Training Day: Geoff Pastrick of Prime Athlete Development

Today, we continue our series on some of our combine prep partners, and our focus turns to Geoff Pastrick of Prime Athlete Development in Kennesaw, Ga. Geoff’s service is interesting because it represents the next logical step in training for NFL athletes in that it’s position-specific. Geoff’s passion is training offensive linemen, and he’s put his years of experience to work doing just that for players hoping to block for NFL running backs and passers some day.

Here are some questions and Geoff’s answers on his service.

You’ve chosen to specialize in offensive line. Why offensive line? 

“The position of offensive line is the greatest position in all of sports. I’ve spent numerous hours game-planning and practicing schemes and never had the same level of excitement about that aspect of coaching as I did about teaching the fundamentals and techniques of offensive line play. The game of football, and the athletes that play it, have evolved. Unfortunately, the position of offensive line, for the most part, is still being taught the same way it was decades ago. In order to play at a high level, one must be trained as such. Prime is a place where offensive line athletes are given the respect, the undivided attention, and the dedication to their specific skillset that they deserve.”

You’ve chosen to specialize. Do you see this as becoming more common?

“When you decide to specialize, your target market greatly decreases. However, that is what makes it that much more special for those athletes. When an offensive line athlete comes to Prime, they know that . . . not only are they getting position-specific skill work, but they are also getting position-specific strength and agility training.  They know that each lift or movement that they are performing is directly related to improving their on-the-field skills as well as improving their on-the-field performance.”

How do you impress on young players that they can trust you, and that you can help them?

“Part of building trust is proving to the athlete that you know their weaknesses, have a plan in place to help them improve those areas, and have their best interest in mind.  The first thing we do is speak to the athlete to gauge their interest in our program and to find out what, specifically, they are looking for in a training facility. If we feel like the athlete will be a good fit, we then start an evaluation process of the athlete as an offensive lineman. There are certain criteria that we evaluate and certain characteristics that we look for. Once we have all the necessary information we generate a report and then go over that report with the athlete. We discuss what improvements need to be made and the plan we will put in place to address those areas.”

You’ve chosen to go to a longer training cycle (12 weeks v. 8 weeks). How does that benefit your clients?

“To have success as an offensive line athlete you must continually work on your craft.  We believe in a 12-week program to get as much work on their specific craft as possible, which includes strength training and movement patterns, to give the athlete the best chance to make an impression during rookie mini-camp. Our goal is that the athlete is a better offensive lineman on the first day of rookie mini-camp than he was the last time scouts saw him play. Furthermore, our plan is to train through March and then break for the month of April when the athletes will be visiting with teams before the draft. If an athlete wants to continue to train at Prime they are more than welcome. We also stress to the athlete to come back in as much as they can before training camp starts to continue to build on what they have learned.”

Obviously, most of the bigger combine prep facilities are based in the Sun Belt, especially Florida and California. What went into your decision to launch your service in Atlanta?

“We have good weather as well, but if an athlete is more interested in sitting under an umbrella on the beach sipping on iced-tea than he is interested in improving his performance then Prime is not the place for him! The truth is that I have lived in this area for over 12 years. Prime is in the football-crazed Southeastern US, right in the middle of SEC country. We are located in Kennesaw, GA, which is a great area just 25 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta.  There are numerous things athletes can enjoy on their downtime just a short drive from the facility.”

 

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The Rising Cost of Representing Players

Sticker shock is probably the biggest issue facing the modern NFL agent, and that’s especially true of new contract advisors sorting out the financial expectations of their recruiting quarry. Even players barely on the draft radar have come to see training as an expectation, and the entitlement doesn’t end there.

We’ve done plenty of writing about the costs of the business in the past. About three years ago (January 2015), the number we came up with was $10,000 to represent a player who could be drafted in the seventh round, but who would likely wind up as a priority free agent. Of course, that’s three years ago in a business where the dollars spend quickly and desperate knows no bounds. On the other hand, if you’re in the market for a top-100 pick, the number is 3-4 times that, according to our conversation with a top player rep in November 2014.

Both costs have risen. This week, the answer we got back on the first question was that it’s closer to $30,000 for a player slated to be drafted in the latter rounds (“we set aside 20k for training, 1500 a month in per diem, then another 2k in random expenses,” said one agent who typically signs late-rounders and undrafted free agents but always eschews top-50 prospects). As for those in the Top 100, by the time signing bonus, per diem, training (including lodging and food), marketing guarantee and/or other costs, we can only guess.

Still, it’s not the upfront costs but the back-end costs we’ll be focusing on later today in our Friday Wrap. We asked 13 contract advisors this question: How much does your monetary investment in a player grow over the draft cycle? In other words, once training costs and other considerations are set upon signing, what percentage (if any) does that total grow with unplanned, ‘out of pocket’ costs?

Based on spending about $30,000 on a typical prospect, here were some of the responses.

  • “Depending on the level of player i plan on spending around 5 to 15k. It usually ends up around 10 to 20k at least.”
  • “I mean, it always happens. It can be as little as a $200 flight, or it can be thousands of dollars. When i budget for each guy i usually add at least $7,500 in “misc. costs.”  If i stay under, great…but it usually tips the other way.”
  • “Maybe 2-3k.”
  • We’re pretty strict so maybe 5%.”
  • “Overall, we know that the promised expenses are probably about 90% of the expenses. Sometimes we need a few extra flights, rental car, or an additional loan, but the main expenses are known upon signing. And of course, we know our own expenses like all-star games, visiting client while training, etc. Very true. Plan is to keep things as clear as possible when they sign in order to avoid the issue later. Usually works but not always!”

For more responses, and a more rigorous look at the ‘out of pocket’ expenses associated with signing and representing budding NFL players, make sure to register for our Friday Wrap. It’s free, and chock-full of notes on the business of pro and college football. Register here.

Merry Christmas!

Training Day: Allen Langford of Athletic Body Mechanics

At Inside the League, we’ve been fortunate to work with several outstanding combine prep professionals in our hometown. One of our longest-standing partners has been Athletic Body Mechanics, led by its owner, Allen Langford. I’ve watched Allen go from training athletes at a high school in a cold drizzle to leading workouts at the gleaming, 6,500-square foot space ABM now occupies.

Today we present Allen’s thoughts on combine prep and what it takes to make January and February count.

There are dozens of gyms in the Greater Houston area, but you’ve had success attracting several Texans and other NFL veterans to your gym. What makes your facility a different? 

“I feel our attention to detail is what really separates us. We take each individual athlete and we give them everything they need to be successful. None of our athletes get lost in the group. Being able to properly assess what’s best for the athlete has really been what sets us apart. And a lot of our vets are super comfortable with that fact that I’ve been through it before and I totally understand their lifestyle.”

It wasn’t long ago you were operating out of a small space in a business park. This year, you moved into a much larger, much better-appointed facility just down the road from where you started. What do you attribute your growth to?

“We have been able to grow and attract new business through results. Our athletes don’t get hurt. We believe in order to be your best we have to minimize your risk of injury, and our injury prevention program, along with our distinct training, has helped our athletes excel. Results is always key in this business.”

You were a member of the 2009 draft class, so it wasn’t long ago you were training for the NFL yourself. How does that recent experience shape your work with NFL prospects?

“Having gone through the process myself, that definitely gives us an edge. I know the effort and time that goes into this process, and how every decision you make affects your progress. I think understanding what teams are looking for from a workout definitely helps us with our training program.”

What’s the one thing that an NFL prospect has to accept – about his training, about his mindset, about his body, his attitude, or whatever — before he can truly unlock his potential?

“Any athlete preparing for a pro day or combine has to understand it takes total focus. This time is not meant to be a time to have a great time hanging out or doing anything. This time is meant for you to prepare mentally and physically for the biggest interview of your life. Only having a short amount of time to prepare means there will be a lot of sacrifice throughout this preparation. Your film means so much, and at the end of the day, you have to be a ballplayer, but your workout can change a lot of things, so it’s important to give 110% to this moment.”

There’s almost an unlimited number of talented athletes in Houston, and that’s especially true during combine prep. How do you build competition in the gym to help all athletes reach their potential?

“Motivation is self-driven. I believe the opportunity that’s in front of these young men is motivation enough. We try to help our athletes see what’s really at stake. Competition pushes us all to be great. We like to create an atmosphere that is similar to being out there on the field.”

Gridiron Tech with Rick Serritella: Dec. 11-15

Welcome back to Gridiron Tech. This week highlights how the increased use of analytics is impacting the NFL, a new league that would like to overtake the NFL as the biggest ‘sports league’ in the world, and a look at how one former ESPN employee is making a career change.

More analytics ahead?: When the NFL began its ‘Next Gen Stats’ initiative four years ago through its partnership with Zebra, initially it was to help provide fans at home and in the stands the next generation of football stats. However, sensor technology has trickled into the offices of coaches and executives around the league, and today, nearly one-third of NFL teams are now utilizing Zebra technology. By tagging player jerseys, teams are able to chart things such as ball velocity for quarterbacks, acceleration speed for wide receivers and even an athlete’s strength and conditioning. Some of the beliefs being adopted in NFL front offices could have a major impact in years to come, such as ‘pitch counts’ for quarterbacks. The next step for the company is to install RIFD tags on NFL footballs. “We use the Zebra Sports practice system to track our players and monitor their participation and performance throughout the season,” explained Saints Head Coach Sean Payton. “The information provided by Zebra has proven to be a vital asset.”

Next best thing to Madden?: While ESPN recently announced another round of layoffs, one former employee has resurfaced as a head coach but with one catch: he’ll be stripped of his authority to call the shots on game day. Former NFL running back Merril Hoge has signed on with Your Call Football (YCF), a real-life Madden-like game which allows fans to dictate everything that happens on the field in each situation. Using the Your Call Football app, users will be able to vote on which plays to call, earn points and win cash prizes. “YCF truly represents the future of the fan experience, and I’m thrilled to be involved,” Hoge said. Former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Sherman has also signed on to be a head coach for YCL.
Overwatch takes aim at NFL: The new eSports Overwatch League is aiming to become larger than the NFL. In order to help its efforts, the company has hired Steve Bornstein, who left his job as CEO of the NFL Network, to serve on the league’s executive committee. “When I left the NFL, the only thing I saw that had the potential to be as big was the eSports space,” he says. “What fascinated me was just the level of engagement, the fact that we measure consumption in billions of minutes consumed.” With a league minimum salary of $50,000, to go along with 401k plans, benefits and free housing, the league is attracting teenage video game players from all over the world.
*Craving more football industry insider news? Subscribe to Inside The League and receive access to NFL Draft breaking news, player/agent signings and exclusive information that will continue to help you Succeed In Football!

Training Day: Alex Brink of E-Force Football

In our last two editions of Succeed in Football, we’ve spoken to two of the trainers we work with at Inside the League, Dave Spitz of California Strength and Darryl Wong of Sparta Science. They are two of the 30-plus combine prep specialists we work with every day at Inside the League.

Today, we talk to former NFL and CFL quarterback Alex Brink of E-Force Football in Lake Oswego, Ore. Not only is he a former NFL draftee (7/223, 2008, Texans), but he was one of the quarterbacks on the 2008 Hula Bowl roster assembled by ITL’s Neil Stratton.

Tell me about your career, who you learned the most from along the way, and how you’ve incorporated that learning into what you do now.

“I was fortunate to play for a number of great coordinators and QB coaches during my career. My college OC (at Washington State), Timm Rosenbach, is one of the best QB mentors I have been around. His experience playing at a high level at Washington State as well as being a first-round pick in the 1989 supplemental draft gave him a depth of knowledge that few coaches I know can match. I was also fortunate to spend time with (49ers head coach) Kyle Shanahan during my time with the Houston Texans. Kyle is by far one of the smartest offensive minds I have been around and I have drawn on his coaching throughout my career and in my coaching of quarterbacks.”

What are some classic mistakes that quarterbacks make during the pre-combine process that negatively affect them?

“Too often quarterbacks focus only on the physical aspects of preparing for the NFL. They put too much emphasis on combine drills and fundamental work, but when they end up getting picked up by a team do not know how to handle the mental rigors of being an NFL QB. Although fundamentals are important, the most important work a QB can do pre-draft is learning how to process an NFL playbook and how to handle the mental stress of playing the position.”

What percentage of a QB’s success is dependent on work off the field (film, board, character, leadership)? How do you relate/explain that to QB prospects?

“Obviously physical tools are important — you have to be above a base threshold of talent to make it in the NFL — but more important are the mental and psycho-social elements of playing QB. This is 90% of where a quarterback’s success comes from. I was below-average physically as a player, but was able to extend an eight-year professional career because of my commitment to studying film, understanding playbooks and being a great leader. I am able to relate to prospects because I have been in every possible position you can be in as a pro: making a team as a rookie, battling for a roster spot as a vet, being a starter, being a backup, going to a new team, etc. During our preparation, we constantly focus on how to digest a playbook, break down film and develop all necessary tools to be an NFL quarterback.”

What percentage of a QB’s potential is purely dependent on raw arm strength? Is it the most important characteristic? If not, what is?

“Arm strength plays a role, but it is a very low percentage of a QB’s potential for success. As long as a QB has the base level of arm strength they can make it at the next level as long as they process information well; that is the most important characteristic a QB can have. Do they process all of the information pre- and post-snap in the most efficient and accurate way possible?”

 

 

 

Training Day: Darryl Wong of Sparta Science

This week, with players and agents making decisions on where to train for the NFL Combine and pro days in March, we’re talking to our combine prep partners about their methods, clients, and success stories. There’s more than one way to maximize a player’s explosiveness and unlock his potential, and we’re out to learn how the best trainers across the country hone each player’s athleticism.

Today, we talk to Darryl Wong of Sparta Science, an innovative training destination near San Francisco.

Sparta Science has involvement with National Football Scouting. What is your role with them?

“We were at the NFL Combine last year and here is a short article on what we do and how Jeff Foster, Director of National Football Scouting, integrates our technology in the combine. We will be there again this year and it is part of the medical/physical evaluations that every player will have to go through. That way teams will be able to gather deeper evidence/facts objectively in order to compare and contrast players.”

How much can you tell about an athlete’s future based on your testing?

“The scan cannot predict the future. Each individual athlete’s choices, day in and day out, have the biggest impact on their future.  The scan provides powerful statistical information regarding where an athlete compares to his counterparts, where his/her deficiencies lie, and if the athlete is at a statistical risk of injury. The most important part of this data is not the collection but the action based on the information. The interplay between the data, the coach and the athlete plays the biggest role in improving performance capacities (speed, strength, flexibility, endurance) and reducing injury risk in a statistically significant way.”

How much can injuries be reduced simply by knowing how a player moves and is built, as well as his prior injury history?

“We cannot provide a percentage. No one can. The biggest predictor of injury is prior injury, so any coach helping athletes must consider this. The Sparta Scan is so advantageous from an injury perspective because it looks at the root cause of injuries rather than the end result. Athletes tear their ACL — the real question is why? More importantly, (it’s better to understand) that one athlete tore his ACL because of reason X and the other tore it for reason Y. When we understand the components that underpin the injury from an individual perspective, we can address things more appropriately.”

How long has Sparta been gathering data? How has Sparta been able to head off injuries so far?

“Sparta has been gathering this information for a decade. More importantly our system is set up like a hospital. All of our domestic and international partners (NFL, NBA, MLB, English Premier League, International Rugby, U.S. Special Forces, universities) data feeds into one centralized database which allows unprecedented amounts of medical-grade data to be analyzed regarding athletic movement and injury potential. This depth of data is the key component regarding the statistical power of the Sparta Scan. Sparta’s partners have seen a savings up to $900k in one year of use with the system.

“The biggest obstacle to overcome regarding pro days and combine preparation is time. Since the dawn of time, coaches and facilities use strong educated guesses to address an athlete’s needs. The technology we use identifies areas of weakness that will inhibit performance and put you at higher statistical risk of injury in under two minutes. By improving said weakness, we improve an athlete’s speed, change of direction, strength, and injury reduction more efficiently than any other program in the world.”

 

Training Day: Dave Spitz of California Strength

For the next three weeks, agents, draft prospects and trainers will be in a frenzy as agents sign players and they, in turn, decide where the top prospects will train. We thought we’d spend some time introducing the people running the facilities where they train, telling their stories and illuminating the experts who are so important in the lead-in to the combine and/or pro day.

Today, we’re talking to Dave Spitz of California Speed, which is based in San Ramon, Calif.

Most of the top combine prep facilities are located in the Sun Belt. Have you found it harder to establish your business given that you’re in the Bay Area?

“The only challenge with having a combine prep facility in the Bay Area is that the cost of living is high, so housing athletes presents an interesting challenge. That being said, the benefits of training in the Bay Area far exceed the potential initial downside. First, we have incredible access to industry leaders in orthopedics, physical therapy, massage, and the latest in technological advancements. Second, the available food and nutritional options are second to none.”

Are speed players made or refined, based on the explosiveness they already possess?

“In the 8-10 weeks of preparation for the NFL Combine, it’s not so much the speed that we are concerned with as it is running the 40-yard dash, running the L-drill and running the 5-10-5 (short shuttle); these events are tests that we prepare our athletes for in a specific and methodical way. We have an overriding approach to block periodization that drives our NFL Combine and pro day results, but within the context of that model, we have a lot of room for customization based on the type of athlete that we receive in any given season.  Every athlete has a specific set of strengths, weaknesses and opportunities that we need to hone in and capitalize on in order to bring out their best performance when it counts.”

What role does pure speed, in your opinion, play in the evaluation process? Can a player ‘run’ himself into a camp invite or late selection?

“The quantitative data that we collect as a result of the NFL Combine or pro day performance is valuable because it essentially confirms what NFL personnel see on game film, or, those performances can force teams to re-evaluate a player and spend time looking at additional game film. We liken the quantitative data of the 40-yard dash, L-drill, and 5-10-5 (short shuttle run) to an SAT or ACT test score when applying to a college or university. Essentially, if the athlete’s game film is their GPA, the NFL Combine or pro day scores are a metric that we can use to determine whether an athlete has, A, the requisite athleticism to play in the NFL, or B, has upside that an NFL team can potentially use. For example, one player we trained last spring, Khalfani Muhammad, ran a 4.34-second 40-yard dash in what was a torrential downpour in 50-degree weather at the Cal-Berkeley pro day.  This performance gave the Titans a critical data point to utilize when considering Khalfani as a potential punt returner and deep threat (editor’s note: the Titans took Muhammad 7/241 last April).”

What’s the most common mistake speed trainers make in the combine prep process?

“The most common mistake is not having a consistent and cohesive strategy for success. The idea that a speed (only) specialist can (succeed) when talking about the 40-yard dash is a flawed concept. You need a closed system that accounts for the athlete’s treatment, nutrition, weightlifting, and linear and lateral speed training that are all married together in a comprehensive program designed to produce optimum results.  We have and always have been the ‘Apple’ of NFL Combine preparation, meaning that we control every aspect and component of the athlete’s training from start to finish.”

What’s the most common mistake draft prospects make in the process of selecting a trainer?

“Not getting on the phone and speaking with the trainer, but instead deciding to simply rely on what others say or decide on a facility based on marketing material alone. I would encourage anyone that wants to work with us to pick up the phone and speak with me personally, learn about our process and be prepared to commit to our training methods.”

Gridiron Tech with Rick Serritella: Nov. 27-Dec. 1

This week in Gridiron Tech, we take a look at some of the movers and shakers in the football industry, including one industry giant who decided to enter the eSports arena, a NFL quarterback who has invested in multiple technology products and a new platform for players to conduct their post-game press conferences.

FanDuel and beyond: About a decade ago, I was attending a Sports Business Technology Conference in New York City and bumped into a gentleman by the name of Nigel Eccles. He was quick to slide me his business card and his accent suggested that he surely wasn’t from the States, but he was eager to tell me about his great new fantasy football concept. The fantasy football market was in the midst of a boom and there were many competitors. I remember walking away from the conversation thinking that he just might have a fighter’s chance. Well, he had much more than that! There was one minor detail that he implemented, which turned out to be significantly different than all the others. His fantasy football game featured weekly competitions and the ability to re-draft a new team, or multiple teams each week. The website was called FanDuel. I mention this story because even though the market was extremely saturated at the time, Eccles had the vision to offer something unique to the consumer. This past week, at age 42, he stepped down as CEO of the industry giant so that he can pursue his next opportunity in the eSports arena. I’m confident that Eccles and his new eSports venture will be a sure bet.

Helmet gets help: With the type of momentum that Seattle-based Vicis is generating on the gridiron, you wonder why the high-tech football helmet, which was founded in 2014, has not yet been fully integrated into the NFL. The helmet is designed to mitigate the forces thought to cause concussions. This season, players from more than 15 NFL teams and 20 NCAA football programs are wearing the helmet. One of those players is Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who loves the product so much he decided to invest in it. Wilson participated in a $7 million round led by The Peregrine Group. Total funding in Vicis is now close to $50 million. This is not the first technology venture that has drawn Wilson’s cash. Just last month, he was part of a funding round led by Jeff Bezos for his new app, TraceMe.

#Verified Arrives: The Players Tribune has rolled out its new show #Verified, which airs exclusively on Twitter, Monday nights at 7:30pm EST. The program is intended to be a next-gen press conference that connects athletes directly with their fans and provides interesting commentary from a side rarely shown— directly from the players themselves. Twitter users can submit questions using the hashtag #VerifiedTPT. The first episode featured Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green. Other players scheduled to appear on the lineup include Mohamed Sanu of the Falcons and T.J. Watt of the Steelers. For more info, visit here.

*Want more football industry insider news? Be sure to visit our premium site, www.InsideTheLeague.com, which features NFL Draft breaking news, tips for new agents and information about the top combine training facilities in the country!

A Conversation with EA Sports’ Clint Oldenburg

In last week’s edition of our free weekly newsletter, the ITL Friday Wrap, we had the story of how former NFL offensive tackle Clint Oldenburg transitioned from the pro game to video games. Today, we expand on our conversation with Clint and ask him more questions about the future of Madden Football, of video games in general, and how they intersect with the game on the field.

By the way, Clint talks about how EA Sports and the NFL are engaging to make teams even better, and how that could take shape in the future, in this week’s edition of the Friday Wrap (sign up for it here).

What is the next frontier for video games as they intersect with sports, specifically football? Are we reaching the limits, or scratching the surface?

“We are just scratching the surface. Not only with video games, but with technology in general. As the technology improves every single year, the possibilities are really endless, be it video games, virtual reality, next-gen stats or something cool yet to be discovered. Where we’re at right now is a great base for teaching football fundamentals – many kids today know what cover-2 is because they play Madden.  The next frontier, I think, is virtual reality in both the teaching aspect and player safety aspect, as well as next-gen stats which are beginning to be used to track players’ health and athletic habits beyond the standard football statistics. I personally foresee these technologies being used heavily in the next 3-5 years and beyond as football starts to use more metrics following the path of Billy Beane’s Oakland Moneyball model.

How has your college football playing experience enhanced your work in the video game field? Do you see others deferring to you because of your on-field experience?

“This was the primary driver in my getting the position I was offered. I often tell people my college and NFL experience got my foot in the door, but my humility, communication skills and willingness to work as a team got the me the job. But to answer the question directly, yes, my football experience helps us make our game more authentic. There’s certain things I can see when I watch football that others cannot. For example, when a QB gets sacked on Sunday, commentary teams and fans are quick to blame the offensive line. But because I can see the protection scheme the team is trying to employ, I know almost right away if the sack was actually on the RB or the QB as opposed to the OL. I also tend to be the ‘go-to guy’ on our team about NFL rules & regulations, specific techniques being coached and how players think when breaking the huddle.”

Do you think we’ll ever see an interface that reads the video game player’s thoughts and takes away the need for a controller? 

“It’s on the horizon, but I can’t say when this will be a reality. There are a lot of discoveries happening right now around eye tracking and machine learning, but we’re not yet quite sure how much carry-over they have to video games, especially complex sports games like ours that offer a lot of different choices and strategic decisions. It would be short-sighted to say there’s absolutely no chance of that happening in the future, but there’s still a lot of work that has to be done to make those options viable in the immediate future. Fortunately, there’s a lot of brilliant people much smarter than me working in the software development industry that are going to solve all these problems and unlock an unlimited amount of possibilities for all of us as we move forward into the future.”

Gridiron Tech with Rick Serritella: Nov. 13-17

Welcome to Gridiron Tech, a weekly column highlighting the latest technology trends and how they’re impacting the football industry. In this edition, we take a look at how Sports Illustrated and ESPN are turning their attention to online video programming, plus a look at the newest NFL tourist attraction that is lighting up Times Square. 

SI dives into Amazon: Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated slashed its editorial staff in an attempt to shift its sports coverage from articles to predominantly video. Now, it’s launching an independent online video channel. Starting Nov. 16, Time, Inc., is launching Sports Illustrated TV (SITV) as its first-ever OTT channel available on Amazon. For $4.99 per month, viewers will be able to access 130 hours of movies, documentaries and original content programming. Original SITV shows will include, The Vault, SI: Under the Cover, and original weekly studio shows The Crossover, Planet Futbol and The Line. Oscar-nominated and award-winning sports filmmaker Mike Tollin, co-chair of Mandalay Sports Media, and 10-time Emmy winner Jonathan Hock have also been hired to produce two different sports documentary projects slated for 2018. The channel is available at Amazon.com/amazonchannels.

SportsCenter goes Snapchat: The jockeying for online digital platforms continues as ESPN has announced that its flagship show, SportsCenter, will now be available on Snapchat via their mobile app. The show will vary from its TV counterpart as hosts will dress more casually and program content will target the under 25-demographic. The move comes at a time where ESPN is trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding from losing online cable subscribers, while Snap Inc., struggles to meet Wall Street growth expectations since its initial public offering in March. “A year ago we launched Snapchat shows, and currently have 30 to date,” said Sean Mills, Snapchat’s Head of Original Content. “We really wanted to reimagine SportsCenter for a new generation, while still keeping the DNA that makes the show what it is. In today’s world, especially with the younger generations, the ‘mobile screen is the first screen,’ and we’re making a significant investment in producing content for this medium.” Daily episodes will vary in length between 3-5 minutes and are scheduled to air at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET during the week and 5 a.m. ET on the weekends. 

Times Square welcomes NFL Experience: If you live in New York or are visiting for the holidays, be sure to check out the much-anticipated NFL Experience, which opens its doors this week in a partnership with Cirque du Soleil, which produces and operates the attraction. The project took 12 weeks of careful planning before construction could even begin, and now is composed of a 38,000-square-foot attraction housed in a 39-story, mixed-use high-rise. It includes a 188-seat, 4-D movie theater with motion-capable seats and weather effects that simulate NFL experiences from the athlete’s standpoint. The space also hosts interactive exhibits and simulated training drills, including running back and tackle challenges and a touchdown dance photo op that can be televised on a 2,120-square-foot digital display in Times Square. While the attraction is designed to draw fans to its interactive displays and technology features, its main purpose is to capitalize on the 26 million visitors who pass through the tourist section of the Big Apple each year. NFL memorabilia and merchandise will be on sale, in addition to food and beverage stands.

*Looking for more football industry news? Check out InsideTheLeague.com, which features inside information about the evolving world of sports agents, combine training and NFL Draft breaking news.