SBJ/March 6-12, 2017/People and Pop Culture

Plugged In: A.J. Francis, Washington Redskins

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Washington Redskins defensive tackle A.J. Francis spent two weeks working with CSN Mid-Atlantic last month as part of the NFL Players Association’s four-year-old Externship Program. Francis, 26, who is looking to pursue a media career once his playing days end, was embedded in all aspects of the network’s production, appearing on air and working behind the scenes. A University of Maryland graduate, Francis speaks about his post-NFL plans and how he heard about this opportunity.

I’ve never had a problem with the media. I can express myself and articulate points without saying anything that’s going to upset my general manager or coach.


Photo: COURTESY OF A.J. FRANCIS
On post-career plans: I want to use my connections in sports to get a sports analyst job, do some color commentary and radio. I want to build up a following so that eventually I can transition into the political realm of media — CNN, MSNBC, Politico. Because my undergraduate degree is in government and politics and my masters is in public policy, my goal is to eventually run for political office.

On getting the opportunity: The NFLPA’s Player Manager Dior Ginyard sent an email asking me if I wanted to do it. I did this program two years ago when I worked under Kevin Anderson at the University of Maryland and Kelly Mehrtens, who was then the deputy director of athletics who now works at the NFLPA. Two years ago, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.

On the NFL’s annual Broadcast Boot Camp: I haven’t done the broadcasting boot camp. Partly, that’s because I had opportunities at places like CSN and 120 Sports. I didn’t have to pay $2,000 to do it, so I don’t feel like I need to do it. Plus, a lot of the Broadcasting Boot Camp is for people that are uncomfortable on camera, getting their personality down and getting how to present on camera. I feel like I already have that and don’t have the need to do it.

On role models: Brian Mitchell has done a fantastic job. He has transitioned out of football, got a radio job. Now he does on-air TV work and is one of the best in the business. He’s a hard worker who you can model yourself after. He’s always a happy guy. That’s how I view myself. If you work those kind of hours, if you don’t love what you’re doing, you’re going to hate your life. I want to enjoy my life.

— John Ourand

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