As part of my talk to the Denver Broncos rookies during a media training forum nine days ago, I brought up a few examples of how players get themselves in trouble.
One specific example: A rookie telling the media how he planned on becoming the starter right away.
It’s fine to think that way. In fact, all elite athletes should think that way. Without such confidence, these players wouldn’t make it this far.
Stating it for public consumption, however, may have consequences. I warned them that in my 24 years of covering the Colorado Rockies and the Broncos, the veteran starter didn’t like reading or hearing how this new kid was going to take his job.
The rookie may not have been talking about a specific player. He didn’t mean it as anything personal. But the veteran starter would take it that way. And he would not be happy.
I must note Broncos running back Devontae Booker was in the midst of rehabbing his injured knee and missed all but a minute or two of my talk.
Booker, a fourth-round running back out of Utah, is now one of 41 rookies at the NFL Players Association in Los Angeles, as is Broncos’ first-round quarterback Paxton Lynch.
“My message to Broncos fans is I want to be one of the best running backs to come out of Denver,’’ Booker was quoted as saying by NFL Twitter.
No problem there. That’s a perfectly legitimate response. Fans want their players confident.
“I’m not there to carry pads,’’ Booker continued, “I’m there to take someone’s job.”
Uh oh. That may be construed as crossing the line of locker room etiquette. First, it’s an NFL tradition for rookies to carry the pads of the veteran players at their position from the field to the locker room following training camp sessions.
Booker is not going to carry C.J. Anderson’s pads? As in C.J. “Six Million Dollar Man” Anderson? Booker is there to take Anderson’s job?
Luckily for Booker, Anderson had no problem with what the kid said.
“What do people want him to say?’’ Anderson said Friday from Oklahoma City, where he is participating in his first Professional Bowlers Association tournament. “It doesn’t matter what he says. I know what I can do. I know what I can do in this league. He’s coming in with confidence and he’s supposed to. I don’t have a problem with what he said. I said the same thing when I came in undrafted.”
Still, Booker might want to participate in a practice drill before he talks too much more. His knee injury – a torn meniscus that caused him to miss his final three games at Utah and took two surgeries to correct – has kept him from participating in practice drills this offseason except walkthroughs. He won’t participate in the Broncos’ first set of organized team activities (OTAs) that run Tuesday through Thursday.
“If that’s what motivating him, then that’s what’s motivating him,” Anderson said. “I wasn’t going to make him carry pads, anyway. I don’t care about all that rookie stuff, I just want to play ball.”
Besides, Anderson’s mind is focused on another endeavor. He is participating in the PBA Planet Bowl Southwest Open, a regional tournament, Friday through Sunday.
Anderson is an excellent bowler, but now he’ll find out if he can keep up with the professionals. He paid the $285 non-PBA member fee to become one of 66 competitors in the field.
Today is practice. On Saturday, each bowler will roll eight games. The bowlers with the top 22 scores advance to Sunday morning’s cashier’s round. Those 22 will bowl five games.
The top 16 will advance to a single-elimination match play bracket on Sunday afternoon. Does Anderson believe he can make the top 16?
“That’s the plan,” Anderson said.