[Mike Reiss, the Boston Globe’s lead reporter for the New England Patriots, came to the Cunniff School on June 11, 2008, to meet the staff of the Cunniff Kids News and answer a few questions. The following is an edited transcript of that press conference. — CKN]
Mike Reiss: I just wanted to say thank you for having me here. If I may, may I ask you to give yourselves a round of applause because I think it is really cool that you are all working on a newspaper that’s online. I think that’s awesome!
Now I know that you know that when you are writing stories that you want to watch and see, looking for clues maybe, or you are writing what you see. And I want to see if you think I know how many of you are here, because one of the first things that I did as I was coming in here today was I observed the room. I said, “I wonder how many people I’m going to talk to?” How many people do you think? [The answer: 28].
That’s one of things I wanted to tell you about. When you are writing for a newspaper, it’s good to look around. So if I was writing an article today, I would say, “I came to the Cunniff School in Watertown and I spoke to 28 awesome students who are writing for a newspaper.
I did want to start by telling you that I asked a few [New England Patriots] players that I interview if they could come with me today. They said, initially, it might work out. But I knew how busy they are, because what happens is Patriots players start training in late July. So they get one final break, sort of like you in school. You are going to have a couple of more weeks and then you get a long break and then you come back to school. You know how in your long break you sort of want to get away, you don’t want to be in school, so the players want to get away. So they said, “Mike, I wish I could come, but I’m sorry that I couldn’t.” There was one player that actually said he would come, but he’s actually doing an interview today. So I apologize for that, but I wanted to explain that to you.
Cunniff Kids News: Who were the players that I was talking to?
Mike Reiss: Robert, that was a great question! There was a running back named Sammy Morris – does that name ring a bell? – he was one of them. There was a big defensive lineman – you see me, I’m sort of small, he’s like four times my size – his name is Ty Warren. Then there was another player, he’s No. 23, Willie Andrews is his name. So I tried [to bring players], I’m sorry.
CKN: Which player had an interview?
Mike Reiss: That was Sammy Morris. He’s coming back from an injury. He only played in six games last season, because he hurt his neck.
CKN: How many Super Bowls did you watch?
Mike Reiss: Devin, that’s a great question! I feel really, really lucky, and I want to tell you why. Because as a writer for the Boston Globe, doing the same type of writing that you’re doing for your newspaper, I’ve got to go to five Super Bowls. I feel really lucky. The last [Super Bowl] was in Arizona, all the way across the country, and I thought that was really cool. So if you ever decide to write about football, maybe you can go to the Super Bowl, too.
CKN: How many Super Bowls did the Patriots win?
Mike Reiss: Well, in [the 2001 season] they beat the St. Louis Rams. In 2003, they beat the Carolina Panthers. And in 2004, they beat the Philadelphia Eagles. But in 2007, they lost to the New York Giants, in 1996 they lost to the Green Bay Packers, and they lost to the Chicago Bears [in the 1985 season].
CKN: Didn’t the Patriots also lose to the Colts?
Mike Reiss: When they lost to the Colts [last year], that was in the game right before the Super Bowl.
CKN: How long have you been working at the Boston Globe?
Mike Reiss: That’s a great question! I was hired there in July of 2005. Not too long, but I really enjoy it.
CKN: In your time at the Boston Globe, have you always worked in Sports?
Mike Reiss: It’s always been in Sports. I really like Sports. It’s my favorite. I always liked to play the games, but I also like to write about them. I think it’s really fun. You get to go watch a game and then you get to write about it. Even though it’s Sports, you are also writing about the players. So even though I might be writing something on Tom Brady, but it might be more about Tom Brady likes for music, what he wears, what kind of car he drives. So even though I’m writing about someone who plays sports, I’m writing about something that’s different than the actual game.
CKN: Have you met any of the players?
Mike Reiss: One of the neat parts about being a newspaper writer is that you do get to meet the players. You go in and see them in their locker room, where they meet every day. I tell you something funny: A lot of the players are pretty tall and I’m sort of short, so sometimes when I meet the players I really have to look up, and it hurts my neck sometimes.
CKN: Is football your favorite sport?
Mike Reiss: Shannon, it’s nice to meet you. Football is my favorite sport to watch and to write about. But I never played football. My mother was always too nervous that I was going to get hurt. So I played baseball and basketball, but [football] is my favorite sport to watch. But my favorite sport to play would be baseball.
CKN: Is it really exciting to meet the players?
Mike Reiss: I think it is. … It is exciting to meet those players. I enjoy getting to know them and to ask them questions and to really talk about football.
CKN: Have you interviewed all of the players on the Patriots?
Mike Reiss: Do you know, right now, just take a guess, how many players are on the Patriots right now? [The answer: 80]. So to interview all of them, it would take months! But I think I might be close. What happens is, right now there are 80 players, but when the season starts for real in September, they have to go all the way down to 53. During the year, I usually get to all of the players.
CKN: How much money would Super Bowl tickets cost?
Mike Reiss: For reporters, I was able to get in with a pass, so I was able to go to the Super Bowl for free. If someone wanted to buy a ticket, I would say it would be about $400.
CKN: What is your favorite part of your job?
Mike Reiss: Charlotte, it’s nice to meet you. Probably one of the favorite parts of my job is writing a story that when you open the newspaper and read it, you say, “Wow, that was a good story. I didn’t know that about Tom Brady.” Or, “I didn’t know that about Tedy Bruschi.” That’s one of the favorite parts of my job, Charlotte, because I like to write stories that I think people like to read. That was a good question.
CKN: Who is your favorite football player?
Mike Reiss: May I ask you a question back before I answer? Do you mean my favorite player, like the way the player plays the game, or my favorite person that I like talking to because I think they’re a good person?
CKN: The way they are on the field.
Mike Reiss: I would have to say my favorite is someone named Wes Welker. Why do you think I like Wes Welker? Because he’s my height! And he’s playing with all these big guys! Guess how many catches he had last year – 112! No one else had more catches than Wes Welker.
CKN: Who was your favorite guy that you have interviewed so far?
Mike Reiss: I think that’s a good question, because I really like talking to the players about more than just football. I like to talk to them about their friends and what they like to do, and I would say that one of my favorite players is Sammy Morris, the Patriots running back. He was going to be here today and I think that was really nice that he was willing to do that. I think he’s a really nice man. Can I tell you something? Do you know what, in addition to playing football, what he likes to do? He likes to take pictures and then print them and hang them up on his wall. I think that’s pretty neat.
CKN: How many games have you been to?
Mike Reiss: Rachel, it’s very nice to meet you. Well, maybe you can help me do some of the math. There’s 16 games every year, and I’ve been doing it for three years, so that’s 48, plus let’s put in some more for some playoff games and games before the season, I’m going to say 68.
CKN: Have you ever written for a team that’s not the Patriots?
Mike Reiss: That’s an interesting question. I have, but it hasn’t been a specific team, in fact I remember writing something about Watertown High School and the basketball team. They had a really good basketball team a few years back and I remember writing an article about them. So I have written about teams other than the Patriots, it’s just been a little while.
CKN: Have you ever written about the Celtics?
Mike Reiss: I’m going to have to think way back on this one because it’s been a while. I think I did write an article on one of the Celtics, but do you know what the article was about? It wasn’t about one of the players. Not Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen or Rajon Rondo. It wasn’t about any of them. It was about someone that works with the team and goes to all the games. His name was Rich Gotham [who is now the Celtics president].
CKN: What’s your favorite football team besides the Patriots?
Mike Reiss: I really have to think hard about this … Not Miami, not the Steelers, not the Jets. I’m going to say the Green Bay Packers.
CKN: I have two questions.
Mike Reiss: This is what we call a “two-part question,” because you ask two questions in one.
CKN: One, are you a coach for the Patriots?
Mike Reiss: No, I’m not a coach.
CKN: Two, have you ever been to a Red Sox game?
Mike Reiss: I have been to a Red Sox game and I’ve really enjoyed going to the Red Sox.
CKN: If you had your choice to interview the Red Sox or the Bruins, who would you choose?
Mike Reiss: I’m picking the Bruins. Do you know why? Most Bruins players are really, really nice guys. I don’t know the Red Sox as much, but I know the Bruins are really nice guys.
CKN: Have you ever gotten to touch one of the Super Bowl rings?
Mike Reiss: Those are really big! I see people wearing them and I feel like when they put them on, their hand drops because their so heavy. I haven’t got to touch one of them, but I have seen them really up close but I haven’t got to put my hand on them.
CKN: What was the most exciting story you’ve ever written?
Mike Reiss: That’s a tough one. I’ll have to think. … I would have to say just probably just this last year. Do you remember the Patriots were winning all these games? They were in the final game of the season. So they were 15-0, and they went to play the Giants and it was really a close game in the fourth quarter. There was anamazing play. Tom Brady threw a long pass to Randy Moss and he dropped it. And everyone said, “Oh, my goodness, they had a chance to win and he dropped it.” And then the next play, he threw another long pass to Randy Moss, and he caught it and he scored a touchdown. It was the most exciting play. It was so exciting, I couldn’t believe it. It was like goosebumps overtook me. I was like, this is the most exciting moment I’ve ever been a part of. One other cool thing is when you go to the Super Bowl, sometimes when the player kicks the ball for the first time [to start the game], you see all these flashbulbs [go off] because people are taking pictures. That’s a really cool thing to see. [The stadium] lights up.
CKN: Do you like the [Patriots] backup quarterback?
Mike Reiss: The backup quarterback, the guy behind Tom Brady, his name is Matt Cassel. He’s a really cool guy. He’s a nice guy.
CKN: Did Wes Welker have the most catches in the league?
Mike Reiss: Wes Welker’s 112 catches were tied for the most in the league with someone’s name that’s really hard to pronounce: T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Can you image being a newspaper writer and having to write that name all the time? It’s a long name.
CKN: When you went to the Red Sox game, did you ever interview Big Papi [David Ortiz]?
Mike Reiss: I never had the chance. I would like to. He seems like a really nice guy.
CKN: Did you ever get a chance to interview the owner of the Patriots, Bob Kraft?
Mike Reiss: I did get a chance to interview Bob Kraft, and he’s a very nice man.
CKN: How many newspapers have you worked for?
Mike Reiss: Oh, good question! I’ve worked for a newspaper called Patriots Football Weekly, a paper called the MetroWest Daily News, and the Boston Globe.
CKN: Did you ever misspell someone’s name and [the editors didn’t see it] so it got printed misspelled?
Mike Reiss: I did and I felt so bad. It felt like the worst mistake. I called the person on the phone and they said, “What happened?” I had forgotten to ask them [the correct spelling]. One of the nice things you can do is ask someone to spell their name for you. My last name is Reiss [pronounced Ree-ce]. Is it R-e-c-e? R-e-e-s-e? It could be. R-e-s-e? R-e-e-c-e? It could be that. But guess what? None of those spellings were right, because it’s actually R-e-i-s-s. That’s why when you are doing newspaper reporting it’s always nice to ask someone to spell their name, even if it’s the most simple name, like “Smith”. Just say, “I just want to make sure.” And I think the player’s name I spelled wrong was T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
CKN: Why do you want to do your job?
Mike Reiss: That’s a neat question. Because I love to follow sports and I love to write sports, so it’s sort of a great thing. And I also love to write at a paper like the Boston Globe, because a lot of people get to read your writing.
CKN: Did you go to the Jaguars-Patriots game?
Mike Reiss: Timmy, it’s nice to meet you. I did. I’ve been to a few games in which Jacksonville played the Patriots, both in New England and in Florida. I liked those games.
[Time for one more question]
CKN: Did you ever interview any of the Bruins players?
Mike Reiss: I did. One of the last Bruins players I interviewed was one of the best players of all time: Ray Bourque. He was the nicest guy. I was real nervous and I went up to Ray Bourque and said, “Ray, can I ask you a question?” And he put his arm around me and he said, “Sure, what can I do for you?” And it made me feel really good.
I just want to say, before we finish, please clap for you guys. You guys are awesome. You asked awesome questions. I think what you’re doing with the newspaper is fantastic, and I hope you continue with it.
(Among those attending the press conference were Cunniff Kids Staff reporters Brian A., Timmy C., Daniel D., David K., Robert K., Katherine L., Jie Sen L., Ryan L., Emilee M., Jessica M., Rose M., Kaitie M., Luke M., Shannon M., Katelynn O., Ryan O., Tia P., Lauren P., Elizabeth P., Frederick P., Rachel Q., Tommy S., Derek S., Devin S., Dylan S., Renee S., Charlotte V., and Isabella V., and CKN correspondent Jack L.)
–June 17, 2008–