Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Workin' for a Livin'

Everybody has those mornings where the alarm clock goes off, and the overwhelming urge to do just about anything besides work sets in. Some people just happen to have far fewer of those days than others. Former Green Terror football players, Justin Sheridan and Dan Gadd, who earned six Centennial rings between them) are some of those people.

While they may be two of the busiest people in the working world this time of year, you won't hear any complaints about long hours. That's because they are cashing paychecks earned working in the game that they love.

For Gadd, a short commute across sunny Jacksonville, Florida, lands him at Alltel Stadium, home of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars. He is the Multimedia Specialist for the Jacksonville Jaguars, or more specifically

It's a pretty sweet gig that grants Gadd sideline access to all of the Jags games, both home and away, and allows him the creative latitude at work most can only dream of. So, you might ask, what exactly is a Multimedia Specialist?

"To be honest, I couldn’t tell you myself," laughs Gadd. " I’d never heard of that title until I was one. Basically I have to be able to do a little bit of everything for including writing code, graphic design, content management and writing."

But his primary responsibility is video content. He shoots, edits, produces, and sometimes even hosts video features including in-studio segments, highlight packages and press conferences.

It's a job Gadd began training for during his own football career on the Hill. While his teammates were catching up on classwork, sleep, or their golf game on the Monday afternoon off, Gadd was in the tiny TV studio, editing VHS game film between two VCRs into a highlight reel for his weekly coaches show with the Terror's head coach, Tim Keating. His show was so successful that the local cable operator picked it up for broadcast.

Gadd now works with state-of-the-art digital video equipment, and McDaniel has since added a high-tech studio of its own, but Gadd certainly wouldn't trade his hours in the basement of Rouzer for the world at this point. Those long hours prepared him for his new long hours, but Gadd doesn't sweat punching the clock.

"Working in the NFL can be a very hectic and sometimes stressful job," he concedes. "But hey, I’m working in football so I love every minute of it!"

Sheridan is no stranger to stress himself. He stays extraordinarily busy as Director of Football Operations at Northwestern University. It's a great job title, but a tough one by every stretch of the imagination. Responsible for the day-to-day operations of a Division I football program, Sheridan's hand is involved in just about every aspect of Wildcats' football.

Aside from coordination the team's pre-season training camp, currently underway at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Sheridan is the primary point of contact for on-campus constituencies, as well as outside vendors. He also oversees the team's travel arrangements, evaluates prospective talent, hosts interested NFL personnel, and directs the Wildcats summer football camp.

Sheridan wears many caps in his day-to-day life, but is ultimately the gatekeeper between Head Coach Randy Walker, and the rest of the world. He allows Walker to wrap himself in a worry-free football cocoon.

"Everyday is different," says Sheridan. "There is always something new to begin, or a new issue or set of problems to conquer.

The job is not all paper pushing, phone calls, and long hours -- Sheridan's life is devoid of both a cubicle or a sense of 9 to 5. In his position, Western Maryland's old number 9 experiences Division I football up close everyday, particularly Saturdays.

"It sounds corny, but I still get that rush when we come out of the tunnel and take the field," says Sheridan. "I enjoy being a part of the team."

And it is for that reason Sheridan still smiles when the alarm clock shakes him from his sleep. Waking up in his Lincoln Park neighborhood, which he describes as "a great place to live" is another, and it seems Sheridan is putting down roots in the Windy City.

Despite his preference for thin crust to the Chi-town deep dish, the native of rural Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, is becoming a full-fledged Chicagoan. He prefers the Cubbies to his hometown Pirates, but hasn't sold out his Steelers for the "Da Bears" just yet.

"The Bears are growing on me though," Sheridan admits. "And there is no doubt I am a Bulls guy." That may have something to do with the fact that his new bride, Kristen, who he met at Northwestern, is one of the Chicago Luvabulls dancers.

Just one more reason for Sheridan to smile at that pesky alarm clock.