Re­porters could play in Penn St. spring game

The Washington Post - - WASHINGTONPOST.COM/SPORTS - BY MATT BONESTEEL

Penn State foot­ball Coach James Franklin has come up with a way to put a dif­fer­ent spin on Sat­ur­day’s spring game.

Or per­haps he wants to in­flict some in­juries on the herd of re­porters who cover the team.

Ei­ther way, on Wed­nes­day, he in­vited me­dia mem­bers to play in the an­nual ex­hi­bi­tion, “catch­ing punts, catch­ing kicks — do­ing some things.”

“Just so you know, I’m dead se­ri­ous,” Franklin said, per ESPN.

Any re­porter who takes the plunge would be fol­low­ing in the hal­lowed foot­steps of Ge­orge Plimp­ton, who in 1964 took part in Detroit Lions train­ing camp and ended up writ­ing a book, “Pa­per Lion,” about how he even­tu­ally was al­lowed to take some (painfully un­pro­duc­tive) snaps at quar­ter­back dur­ing a pre­sea­son in­trasquad scrim­mage played in front of an ac­tual crowd.

“I thought about the ap­plause af­ter­ward — some of it, per­haps, in ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the lu­nacy of my par­tic­i­pa­tion, but it oc­curred to me that most of it, even sub­con­sciously, was in re­lief that I had done as badly as I had,” Plimp­ton wrote. “It ver­i­fied the as­sump­tion that the or­di­nary cit­i­zen could not sur­vive in the bru­tal world of pro­fes­sional foot­ball.”

More re­cently, writer Ste­fan Fat­sis took part in Den­ver Broncos train­ing camp and wrote it up in “A Few Sec­onds of Panic.”

A Penn State spokes­woman said sev­eral re­porters will take Franklin up on his of­fer and will have to “fol­low the univer­sity pro­to­col” to par­tic­i­pate (waivers and such).

In turn, the sports ed­i­tor of a pub­li­ca­tion that cov­ers the Nit­tany Lions should in­vite a mem­ber of the Penn State coach­ing staff to write a side­bar on dead­line. It only seems fair, and no waivers needed.

The Nit­tany Lions fin­ished 11-3 last sea­son and won the Big Ten cham­pi­onship.

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