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 by Elvis
3 years 11 months ago
 Total posts:   38924  
 Joined:  Mar 28 2015
United States of America   Los Angeles

Jourdan was kind enough to answer a few questions for us even though she's obviously pretty busy doing her job as Rams beat reporter for The Athletic and host of 11Personnel with Rich Hammond.


Podcast: https://theathletic.com/podcast/65-11-personnel/

Find her Athletic articles here: https://theathletic.com/author/jourdan-rodrigue/

Follow her on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/JourdanRodrigue

And now for some questions:

1. Firstly, just really interested in what it's like to cover the Rams in a pandemic, not to mention you're new to L.A. and the beat. I assume part of the job is establishing relationships. How's that been? What is your access like? Have you met anyone in person yet? Even your colleagues, like Rich? Have you been to CLU? What's the plan? Will you and the other beat reporters get tested, screened and attend camp or will it all be remote? Have you seen SoFi stadium? If so, feel free to gush. If not, are there plans for a tour?

Here's a fun fact: I once toured Cal Lutheran because I really was in love with the Ventura/Santa Barbara/Ojai area and wanted to go to school up there! There's no way I could have afforded it, but a girl could dream...Otherwise, I haven't been up yet but expect to start attending camp practices in the next couple of weeks as the Rams get into actual on-field work.

Access is weird, but it's that way everywhere right now. For me, I love people. I love stories, I love just standing around talking and hearing about peoples' lives and what is important to them and what moves them, what they have been through and overcome, all of that. So it's been super strange to be on a new beat and not be shaking hands with the great folks who I have met within the organization so far - though I was fortunate to meet Kevin Demoff, Sean McVay and Les Snead at the NFL combine back when I was scoping out the opportunity to come out here. And Rich introduced me to all of them! Great guy, that Rich Hammond.

So we just do the best we can to "be normal" through Zoom and things like that, with the hope that we can get back to the good times soon. The Rams have had to innovate a lot when it comes to details within the day that used to be so straightforward, like media access or even showing up to the facilities. What happens now will all be different...temperature checks and masks, contact tracing if necessary, social distancing, watching practice but doing virtual interviews, and working in a tent...though I'm a big outdoors person, so I'm actually pretty stoked about the tent. And in terms of how I feel about covering the team so far, I really couldn't be happier. Rams fans know the vibe they catch is real - that this is a fantastic locker room and staff. I have genuinely enjoyed my introductions and dealings with the people I've worked with so far. The Rams locker room also has a great rep across the league, so to be honest with you, that was a big factor in my decision to make the move. I knew I wanted to be out in Los Angeles, first and foremost, but also I wanted to be sure that if I moved, it would be to a place where I could tell some great stories about great people. That's the package here.

2. You haven't been here all that long and already your interaction with fans has been great, including your piece on fan uniform designs. So what's your take on us Rams fans? How would you compare/contrast us to Carolina? Is it true that we're laid back?

Thank you so much for saying that - like I said, I love people. I will always do my best to interact and try to pull back the curtain for people. I feel like a part of my job should be letting people "come with me" on the beat, and what I mean by that is I want to paint a detailed enough picture so that people can feel like they're seeing and understanding the things I see and hear (though as someone who prides herself on good source-building, y'all won't always know everything right away).

It's hard to compare fan bases too much just because the Panthers' fans really just went through SO much in the last couple years. It was insane. Losing in the Super Bowl after such an historic season, then a workplace scandal and team sale, then the new owner comes in and totally cleans house and gets rid of beloved guys like Greg Olsen, Thomas Davis and even Cam Newton in super non-glamourous and even downright sketchy ways...Luke Kuechly retires...man I would suggest some good therapy or consistent hugs for Panthers fans at this point!

I will admit I cried writing my farewell letter to Charlotte (that's pinned to my Twitter profile if people haven't read it yet), and much of that had to do with the fans. But so far, I've had a great experience with Rams fans. I'd say yes to being laid-back, and so far great food suggestions. I also like when I get little historical tidbits from people, or questions about how I do my job. Sometimes it's hard to see where we're leading you with some questions we ask in pressers, but I'll always try to explain the process.

3. There's a lot of talk that teams with the most continuity will do best in this truncated run up to the season with so few padded practices. I think that bodes well for our offense but how do you think this will affect Staley and his new defense? Do you think defenses are going to be ahead of offenses, more so than usual, to start 2020?

Where Brandon Staley has a little bit of a learning curve in terms of managing so many players and calling plays, there are some "pillar guys" on that defense that will make things go more smoothly than some people may expect. A new coach coming in has his hands full, but the job gets a lot easier when you don't have to worry about the preparedness of guys in every tier, from Aaron Donald to Leonard Floyd to Jalen Ramsey (and, well, basically the entire secondary). Also, and I hope to have a long profile out about this soon, but Staley is going to be special. Seriously.

4. How do you think things will go with Cam Newton in New England?

I get a big smile thinking about Cam pairing up with Josh McDaniels in New England, and I think people who make a lot about Bill Belichick's buttoned-up personality possibly clashing with Cam's own more extroverted personality are just being silly. Cam is like the only opposing quarterback Bill never had a formula for. Of course he wants that guy on his team. And there's a ton of respect there, too, because Cam is really such a football nerd. The thing I worry about for Cam is all of the opt-outs on the team...honestly though, and I could write pages on this, but there haven't been a lot of quarterbacks that have been expected to do more over the years, with less around him, than Cam. He'll find a way, he always does. I'm excited to see it!

5. You did some really nice reporting on the video the players put together in the wake George Floyd that got a noticeable response from the league. With the NFL and the Rams onboard with Black Lives Matters and social justice initiatives for 2020, are they anticipating a lot of push back like they got in 2016 and how do they plan to deal with it? How do you deal with whatever push back you might encounter when you report on these issues?

Thank you for saying that! That was a story that was very important to me because it was the players and league employees who make up the engine of the NFL itself understanding how to use their empowerment. Social justice causes are extremely important for the Rams to support and historically have been. You won't always SEE the ways the organization is working for the community or how players are having an impact. But players in that locker room are having an ongoing open and kind dialogue with each other about their separate or shared experiences, and they are being heard. The Rams as a front office are listening and trying to do good things in the community. I honestly don't think they're paying any sort of pushback any mind at all. And why would they? If fans want to be entertained by the players, but don't want to even take a moment to listen to them especially as they try to do good and be a force for equality, they aren't really "fans", are they?

For me, pushback is a part of the job. I am proud to always be learning and trying to be better, and telling the stories that matter to people. These conversations are happening every day in the locker room, and so it is my responsibility to cover them. A big part of that is opening my entire self up to listen. I think that should be a common practice for anybody. And if somebody wants to be mad at me for trying to do good, and do good work, and report on what is happening, that's very much less of a "me" issue and more so a "them" issue. I can only control the energy I put out into the universe and I want it to be good energy. To be honest, I've heard just about everything mean or threatening that can come a person's way online...and mostly, it makes me feel sad for the person who decides to treat someone that way. How much pain might they be in themselves, to try to drag someone down in a comment section? I would rather choose kindness and empathy.

6. Any interest in answering an obligatory "how did you enjoy your welcome to L.A. earthquake" question?

I can't believe I'm saying this...but...I slept right through my very first Los Angeles earthquake. It's all good, everyone, you are welcome to make fun of me for this.

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1 post Jul 13 2024