The beginning of August has always been meaniful for me. My house growing up was a football house. Meaning? Meaning you could play any sport you wanted, as long as it was football. Football has been in my blood since, well, birth. So the start of August always marked an exciting time for me. Once I started to play football in the seventh grade, it meant reporting to camp. I played football in middle school, high school and college. The start of August was the time my body was ready for three months of punishment. It was primed. The smell of fresh cut grass and the sting of the summer heat resonated. The start of August meant something else once I retired from football. For seven late summers, it meant Football Tab.
Football tab time for me was the busiest two weeks of my newspaper life. Let me explain. Every year, newspapers and magazine across the country produce a football preview/tabloid. While it mostly previews high school football, there are tabs devoted to both college and high school. What you get is a story on the team, which includes returning starters, schedules and newcomers, and other tidbits of information for the avid high school or college football fan. The tab, I call it that because it was the size of a tabloid, depending on the area, could be between 35 to 135 pages.
My first football tab was completed in the fall of 1998. I was the sports editor of the Daily Triplicate in Crescent City, California and I went to my editor with the request to do a football tab. I had no idea how much work went into it. The first tab was about 12 pages. I previewed the local high school team, Del Norte, did a preview of the Big Five Conference, which required me calling all four coaches from Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville and Fortuna, profiled junior QB Buck Pierce, and did a Warriors to Watch segment, that included about eight players on the roster who were expected to stand out. I also did a college and pro write ups.
I did the same in 1999. I moved to San Angelo, Texas in November 1999 and was there long enough to help produce the 2000 Football. It was a 120-page preview that was the absolute highlight of the year in football crazy West Texas. I helped design pages for that and wrote to feature stories. One on a quarterback at Brady High and one on an offensive lineman frm Regan High.
When I moved back to Medford in the fall of 2000, I knew the Mail Tribune ran their own 42 page football tab. I spent two weeks each August from 2001 until 2005 working on the tab. I came in early just work on designing pages. It was stressful and agonizing, but in the end, I produced five very awesome tabs and implemented ideas and designs that are still in use 13 years after I left.