No, not me. Both Vinny Testaverde and I have recognized that our best playing days are behind us. But fellow Niles West H.S. grad (I retired from there) Rashard Mendenhall returned to the school to hold a press conference announcing that he would not be in the University of Illinois’ backfield next year and instead would enter this spring’s NFL draft. I bring this up for two reasons.
First press conferences and interview formats can be a great vehicle for your students telling a story. Imagine Caesar explaining why he had to cross the Rubicon (maybe even in Latin), Columbus speaking Spanish (or Italian), General Lee under the scrutiny of the media after Gettysburg, Einstein or Fermi announcing the splitting of the atom. You can also fake a two camera shoot with footage of the interviewer asking a question and then a cut back to a picture of say Washington as another student voices the response. Kids get press conferences. Think of the recent series of beer commercials where actual footage of coaches is cut in with some under achievers asking off the wall questions.
Second, Rashard and his older brother Walter were regulars in our A.V. Media Lab. Walter and his teammates actually started it out by making an epic football highlight film of their season, but as they got comfortable with iMovie they asked their academic teachers if they could make videos instead of PowerPoints and other types of presentations. Then they also ended up mentoring other students with their video projects.
I did wangle my way into the press conference in the black box theater to get a feel for what they are really like. Of course, I also wanted to wish Walter well in his last school year and football season in Champaign, and to wish Rashard good luck in the NFL. I’d love to see him with the Bears…if they can rediscover their defense, and find a quarterback, and some blocking, and…