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An Interview With J. Michael Moore

Those of you who spend a lot of time over at the Atlanta Falcons Team Site are probably familar with J. Michael Moore, who blogs, writes and just generally keeps the windmills turning at that site. I recently had an opportunity to shoot a few questions about covering the Falcons this season his way, and Moore was kind enough to answer with something other than a restraining order.

What sparked this interview was a desire to get some kind of insider's glimpse into what the atmosphere around the team is. Everyone talks about how this team has more chemistry than a reaction between sulfur and phosphorous, but I'm interested in finding out exactly what that means. And before anyone says anything, I have no idea what the reaction between sulfur and phosphorous is.

Check the brief interview after the jump!

Dave the Falconer: I think most fans agree that the atmosphere surrounding this team is totally different than it was a year ago. What kind of changes in the philosophy and attitude of this team have you observed?

J. Michael Moore: Changes in philosophy and attitude are almost too numerous to list.
Though it may seem unlikely in the big-business world of professional sports, the influence of a head coach and general manager are very important to everyone in the organization. Smitty and Thomas set the positive tone on a daily basis and have instilled a “we’re all in this together” atmosphere. Everyone feels like part of the team and that injection of respect has everyone supporting one another in the locker room and in the front office.
The addition mutual respect and fun are easily noticed.
From a football side I think the biggest change in philosophy comes with using talents correctly. I talked with Mike Mularkey before the season and he said the team’s goals would be to identify what every player does well and find ways to make them shine.
They aren’t going to ask a guy do something he can’t and so far that’s turning into success on the field.

DtF: Who is most responsible for the season we're seeing? Is it Thomas Dimitroff, Mike Smith, or someone else entirely?

JMM: That’s a great question.
Directing all the praise at a single person really isn’t the style of this team, but if I must name one person that gets everyone motivated I’d have to say Coach Smith.
Thomas works very hard behind the scenes evaluating the roster and getting ready for free agency and the draft. Day-to-day it’s Smith talking for the organization.
Just this morning I spoke with him in the cafeteria (he’s approachable). Smitty also goes out of his way to make sure the AF.com team has the access it needs.
He cares about the team and the organization like they were part of his family and, in that regard, makes an excellent boss that you love to work for.
Thomas is also very approachable and likes to know what we’re doing on the web. He often asks questions about our equipment and wants to get involved in some of the cutting-edge stuff we plan.
It’s a team effort all the way around.

DtF: To me, it seems as though the two guys who have really rejuvenated this offense are quiet, humble types. Does that jibe with your view of Matt Ryan and Michael Turner?

JMM: You’re on target. Turner is more humble in a quiet sense (he doesn’t talk that much) while Ryan will always identify every person responsible for a successful play (that’s 11 guys including himself). No player is above the team. It’s cliché, but true when you talk about the 2008 Atlanta Falcons. You’ll always see players passing praise and, in the case of Roddy White’s miss on a possible touchdown last week against the Broncos, prop each other up.

DtF: Who is your favorite interview on the team? Are the players generally friendly and accessible?

JMM: This is my sixth season in the NFL and I must say the locker room here in Atlanta is the best I’ve ever worked with in terms of team chemistry and player approachability. That’s not to say other teams were full of a bunch of mean players – they weren’t – but something about the team here offers up a bit more fun and easy-goingness that makes a reporters’ job fun.
My favorite interview would be Todd McClure. He’s great at breaking down complicated football concepts into layman’s terms and he’s one of the more funny guys on the squad.

DtF: As a reporter, I've found that the happier your subjects are, the easier your job is. Have your day-to-day responsibilities been more enjoyable this year given the team's success, or has it not really made a difference?

JMM: No question it’s been more fun coming to work. When the team is losing your job feels very much like a job. After a win everything seems a bit more exciting and you realize that it’s great to be associated with a group that plays a game for a living. The players are professionals win or lose. There may be more laughter after a win or on a winning streak, but they are all very upfront and willing to explain the situation after losses as well.

DtF: For those readers pining for a job like yours, what kind of hours do you put in? Do you have your hand in a little bit of everything at the site? Is it a dream come true to work for an NFL franchise?

JMM: It is a dream come true to work in the NFL and something I didn’t think would be an option until midway through college. I’m honored to be a part of a great organization and league.
To answer your first question, I put in – on average – around 65 hours a week during the season between office work, covering the team, traveling and working games. Some weeks I do more but, for the most part, we all get into a routine during the season.
In the off-season I’ll work more of a regular 9 to 5, but put in many hours around the draft and other big off-season events doing research and covering what the Falcons are doing.
This holds true for everyone on the AF.com team. It’s my opinion we have the best staff in the league.
My responsibilities do include a little bit of everything. My official title is “Manager of New Media” so, along with writing, doing interviews and blogging, I’m responsible for the day-to-day function of the site. That includes planning editorial, placing content on pages, executing marketing initiatives and maintaining the static areas of AF.com like the alumni and cheerleader sections.