Greg Simmons' 2019 Training Camp Blog: Day 4

An interview with Jerry and dodging late-night disaster

OXNARD, Calif. – Day 4 of the Dallas Cowboys 2019 training camp turned out to be the most challenging, so far. Remember when I told you that everything was working well? I knew I jinxed us. Those words came back to haunt me on a day that looked like it was going to be a cake walk.

Everything started off well. Morning walkthrough was great. Interviews came off without a problem, but a hint of rough seas ahead came when Jason Garrett delayed his press conference from noon to after 12:30. Not a problem for the most part, but it does start pushing up deadlines when the 5:30 pm newscast hits at 3:30 pm pacific time. Still, everything goes off without a hitch.

We are informed by the Cowboys PR staff that Jerry Jones will do all of his camp interviews at six pm in an area we call the “gazebo,” since there is a large gazebo next to the swimming pool. How clever we are. That also doesn’t seem to be a problem since it is 8 p.m. back home. But then you have to factor in eight stations wanting access, including KSAT, and since we don’t hit till 11 p.m. or 9 p.m. pacific, I volunteer to go last. Everything goes well. The card is given to our producer, Mike, who heads to the work station to start getting the interview ready to be exported. These are computer terms I’m told, and I take their word for it.

Now here is where the fun begins. The Cowboys make DeMarcus Lawrence available to all of the stations with the same round robin format, and now things start to get dicey. Once again we are last, since we are on the air last, and now that deadline monster is breathing heavily down my neck. I had written the start of Instant Replay earlier in the day, just in case, and most of what we call “teases,” but I still had not printed the show.  When it’s an hour-long show, there is a lot of printing. We don’t finish the Tank interview until 7:38, which is 9:38 back home. Now the deadline monster is breathing fire.

As we rush back to the work station in Mike’s room, I’m informed that we are having trouble exporting the Jerry file because of its length, since the interview went seven minutes. While Mike is dealing with that, I start to print the show and the printer won’t function. I do several resets and finally get it to breathe, but now it’s going to throw us another curve. The printer has decided it will only print one page, anything longer than that, too bad. So I grab a pen and start to fill in the blanks. Now it’s 10:10 CDT, and my first hit is at 10:25 pm CDT on the field. Our photographer, Billy, needs a light out of his room. I grab that and I’m off. We make the first deadline. Now the deadline monster saves it’s best for last.

We are still having trouble exporting the Jerry interview while I’m fighting the printer, and having to handwrite everything it decides it doesn’t want me to see. Now it’s 10:40 CDT and my next hit is at 10:52 CDT. I have to grab what I have and go into the show believing I’ve got everything. But as I’m heading to the field for the live shot, I notice Mike running a pretty impressive 100-yard dash to the field. He’s going to have to feed the Jerry interview off our internet connection at field level in order to get it on the air.  Remember it’s 10:40 p.m. CDT. The interview is seven minutes long and we go on the air for Instant Replay at 11 p.m. CDT. This is going to be close.

As I arrive on the field, I ask if the interview is in. It has been fed, which is a term meaning that our staff has the file back in San Antonio, but they still have to turn it. That means they still have to put it in our system back home in order for it to play out. It’s 10:58 p.m. CDT now, and producer Daniel Villanueva tells me in my ear that he will check the interview during the first break. If it doesn’t fire, the plan is to move it to the third segment of IR. Stand by, here we go.

“Good evening everyone and welcome to our live coverage of the Dallas Cowboys training camp here in Oxnard, California. Here’s what we have for you tonight on Instant Replay.”

So you wanted to be in broadcasting…

At the break, Daniel is able to confirm the interview is in and it’s playing well. Disaster averted.  But then I noticed I’ve left the second half of the show in Mike’s room, so guess what. This time, it’s two 100-yard dashes to retrieve the remaining scripts. I’m reminded of the cartoon of two brain surgeons at work, and as they are in the middle of an operation, one looks to the other and says, “At least it’s not TV.”  Don’t get me wrong, we are not doing brain surgery here, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be nerve wracking.

The show is over.

“Good job, everyone,” Daniel exclaims.

Let’s not do this again tomorrow.

About the Author:

Greg Simmons is the sports director and a sports anchor for KSAT 12.