About five weeks before training camp, Matt Wilhelm will be going to boot camp. Fortunately, it won’t require a high-and-tight haircut.
Wilhelm has been selected to participate in the fourth annual “NFL Broadcast Boot Camp,” an intensive four-day crash course that teaches current and former players how to be media piranhas. (Lesson 8: How to Hoard Marriott Points.) Participants will learn editing, show preparation, radio production, control-room operation, studio preparation, field reporting and other tricks of the broadcast trade. Each will get a crack at hosting a live show on SIRIUS NFL Radio.
Joining Wilhelm in the Class of ’10 will be players such as Muhsin Muhammad, Orlando Pace, Jeff Saturday and Hines Ward. The faculty comprises more than 30 executives, technicians and analysts from multiple networks.
Wilhelm had to apply for a spot, sending a professional resume and writing an essay describing why he wanted to take part.
“It’s gonna be exciting,” he said Monday. “Just to understand what it’s like to have a pen and paper in your hand, and taking the notes. Also having the microphone in your hand, reading off the teleprompter, sitting behind the desk and talking about pregame, postgame. So it’s gonna be interesting. If this is an avenue I want to take after my career is over, I’ll have it on my resume, and it’s just not cold turkey.”
Wilhelm must have written one hell of an essay, because he doesn’t have any real broadcasting experience. He did study Communications at Ohio State, and he seems to be the type of person who is constantly looking ahead.
“I just think I’ve always had a good rapport with the media,” the eighth-year linebacker said. “I think everyone comes to a point where they realize playing this game doesn’t last forever. And for most of us, we’ve been playing since we were 4, 5, 6, 7 years old. So it would be a great opportunity for myself to stay around the game, to talk about it, to interact with the players.”
Wilhelm will take a red eye to the East Coast – the camp is held at NFL Films in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey – Sunday night, a day after the 49ers’ three-day minicamp ends. It runs Monday through Thursday, June 21-24.
Sounds like an exciting prospect for Wilhelm, but it’s just an interlude along the way to his real goal: to get more playing time in the 49ers’ defensive scheme. He didn’t join the Niners until five games into the season in 2009. Wilhelm is looking forward to a full year in Greg Manusky’s system, and he’s gotten a ton of chances this spring while ILB Patrick Willis has rehabbed after knee surgery.
“It’s been amazing this offseason,” Wilhelm said. “The good, the bad and the indifferent for myself has always been a step in the right direct. Because it’s a progression for me. And I realize I don’t want to know it all right now. I want to know it all in mid-September, when we start the season.”