"Imagine if Kirk Cousins lights it up the last 3 weeks? hoooohhh boy all the popcorn"
This interview won’t be as fantasy-heavy as most. I knew I had to get Sharona in the interview queue since we’ve actually hugged it out at Titans games, starting at the scrimmage in early August. Remember when Titan fans had hope? Anyway, in researching for my questions I found out that she may be bionic, as she writes/podcasts/Google Hangouts approximately 23 hours a day on the Titans, fantasy football, real football, and actual *important issues*.
How’d you get started in football writing? Just dumb blind luck I guess. I have always followed sports and played when I was younger and had the time. I started posting on message boards initially. I generally got good feedback and was encouraged to start my own blog. Then I was just fortunate enough to get noticed and receiver offers to write for some great sports related websites like SB Nation and National Gridiron Network.
Congrats on the gig with National Gridiron Network. What will you be doing with them? Thank you! These are exciting times for NGN and we are honored to be the first to host and call a collegiate college bowl game. I will be on the sidelines reporting and doing player, coaching and scouting interviews so I am very excited. There are other things coming down the pike and if all goes well I am going to start calling some college games next year.
Obviously, I write for them too and I am host of The Extra Point which is a podcast every Friday night at 6:00 p.m. CST that is devoted to the AFC and NFC South. I also guest co-host on the Sunday morning 2 hour show hosted by Matthew Falkenbury where we preview the week’s games and discuss fantasy football among other things. [Zach note: I’m exhausted for you.]
Thanks for writing on your feelings about the conclusion to the Jameis Winston rape allegations at FSU. What compelled you to write about the issue and how did a famous alum get mixed in? Thank you for reading the article. I do a weekly hot topics article for NGN which is very impromptu and generally based on what is going on in the sports world midweek. It just so happened that the dismissal of the charges were announced Thursday and the frenzy was on.
I carry great respect for Deion Sanders but I thought it was inappropiate for an analyst who works for the NFL Network to publicly celebrate in that fashion and I tweeted my displeasure. I didn’t expect the response I got but I do understand emotions run high in these matters. I stand by my opinion that it was inappropriate. That led me to write on the topic. [Zach note: Deion tweeted congrats to Jameis and FSU “nation” after the press conference announcing that there would be no rape charges against Jameis Winston. Sharona responded that she didn’t think congratulations were in order and Prime Time responded with a Tweet that has since been deleted. Or just read the article.]
Writing about rape is never fun but there have been highly publicized cases like the Jameis Winston matter that shows we as humans still have a long way to go toward understanding the issue and how to talk about it. As an attorney and a female who has a lot of experience with the issue, I feel a real need to at least try to make an impact so we can better understand the issues involved. [Zach note: There is a tendency to dehumanize when we’re dealing with sports.]
You’re a Titans fan and a writer for Music City Miracles/SB Nation. What’s it like to cover your team and give your fantasy advice on the site? Well, I feel like I am constantly evolving as a writer and analyzer. When I first started way before I became associated with Music City Miracles I had to learn to disassociate myself from my fandom and become more of a critic or perhaps maybe analyzer is a better word. I feel I’m largely successful but again I am want to evaluate myself.
On the plus side, being intimately familiar with a team, it’s background, history and all that jazz I do believe is invaluable to me. It allows me to understand why the team does certain things a lot more than someone on the outside looking in. As for fantasy advice, there is no team loyalty whatsoever in fantasy. You must approach fantasy from a different outlook. I rarely draft Titans players however.
What’s it like to be on the SB Nation fantasy football “desk” on Sunday/Monday? I am truly honored to be writing for the SB Nation fantasy football desk. It’s funny you put it in quote because it’s not really a desk at all. We monitor the games that are being played on Sunday night and Monday for hot fantasy related news. The main objective is usually looking at games that have already been played and analyzing them from a fantasy standpoint. We also identify trends and issues with each week’s waiver wire. It’s a great group of writers and editors.
Do you think fantasy footballers who made it this far should make any changes, or stick with what works to get to a championship game? If you made it this far you probably have a solid team. If not, you probably play with idiots. Most playoff caliber fantasy teams don’t need a ton of work. Maybe a tweak here and there.
Are your Tennessee Vols finally going to turn the corner after a rough few years? That certainly seems to be the question. I like Butch Jones and he is bringing in the talent. There were some things I questioned about the coaching in 2013. Having said that, you can always second guess many coaching decisions. The quarterback situation was largely a disaster early on. [Zach note: As a Missouri fan, I’d like to keep penciling in that Tennessee game as an annual “win” but I think eventually talent will win.]
Mike Munchak: You have posted some amazing “struggle faces” from Mr. ‘Chak this year. If it were up to you, would he get another season to run the team? Mike Munchak has the best struggle face game in the league. Now there I might be a bit biased. There are 3 more games to play and I do want to see how they fight down the stretch. They were clearly outmatched Sunday against the Broncos. They fought hard until the end.
Unless there is an epic collapse yes I would give Mike Munchak another year. If you look at the history behind the hire, and understand exactly what he faced when he took over, you understand how far this team has come. They are so close but not there yet. Attrition is going to help solve some of the team’s issues this year.
He and a large part of his staff are under contract at least through 2014. If you move on not only do you buy out those contracts but you could lose some good assistants like wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson who has been a real difference maker. You might lose Gregg Williams who only signed a one year deal since there would be no guarantee Munchak would survive beyond 2014. Williams won’t want to sign a one year gig.
I think the Titans are doing a much better job drafting under Ruston Webster and Lake Dawson. You can fault them for missing on some free agent acquisitions but you can’t fault them for trying. For years fans complained that the front office didn’t do enough in free agency. Now, they are complaining about some of the big acquisitions.
I say let Munchak and his staff complete their rebuild which should be done next year. Then let the season play out and see what results you get. If they don’t make a playoff berth or at least get close then you know it’s time to move on. [Zach note: I can see why moving on from Munch would be tough since he’s been with the organization since he was drafted in 1983. While it would be somewhat unfair to cut bait after most of the coaching staff turned over this year, I haven’t seen enough to say that this same crew could be a playoff contender, even in the somewhat weak AFC, in 2014.]
What are the pieces the Titans have in place for 2014 and beyond and where do they need to shore up? I like a lot of what the Titans have done since moving on from the Fisher era. [Zach note: Come on, admit it, you miss the beard.] The back end of the roster is getting better. They are making better decisions in drafting and avoiding players with known issues. I thought the lack of leadership issue was oversold but you can’t deny that guys like Bernard Pollard and Delanie Walker have brought a mindset this team desperately needs.
They really needed to rebuild in the trenches and that is an area they are focused on. They will draft an offensive tackle in the 2014 draft without question. I expect one or two defensive linemen as well. They will move on from Chris Johnson and bring in another running back via draft or free agency. They face a difficult decision with Nate Washington and I think they will move on. Look for them to draft another wide receiver too.
The secondary has been a strength but right cornerback Alterraun Verner will be a free agent. He didn’t have his best game against the Broncos which could increase his chances of returning. If not, they will look at the secondary too. Pollard is a free agent and if he doesn’t return safety is a position to shore up. [Zach note: Signing Jurrell Casey and Verner to extensions should happen as soon as the team is able to do so. Sorry CJWTFk, it’s been a fun but frustrating ride.]
Why should every die-hard football fan check out your weekly NFL Female podcast/Google + hangout (besides discussion of players grabbing other players in the junk to make tackles)? Over at NFL Female and particularly at Cover 3 NFL, we tackle the tough issues. Our “Playa Please” and “Play on Playa” is not to be missed. We also “tackle” the issue of players grabbing other players by their baby making parts. Expect us to tackle the finger in the hind parts issue soon. We strive to keep it real.
Do you think the female fan of football, whether real or fantasy, is underserved by the writers being about 95% male? I do think so yes. I do think it’s getting better. I have written on that issue as well. It’s frustrating to see women continue to get sports gigs more so on their looks than their analysis and the emphasis remains that women in sports must be hot. I see a tide shifting there and i hope it continues. There are some really good analysts who just so happen to be female.
When did your sunglass obsession begin? I don’t remember when I first started wearing sunglasses so much but I suspect it coincided with love of all things beach and lake front. I never wore sunglasses when I played sports. Now, you hardly find me without them. I will say however that I have a life long love of matching my apparel choices and accessories which likely contributed to that obsession. Sometimes I’m just a girly girl.
Football or sex: which do you think of more? They go hand in hand obviously. Who can’t watch a hot guy playing in tight pants and not think about sex? [Zach note: Deep down, about half of my interviewees agree.] Wait, did I just say that out loud?
Where are you on the usual football Sunday? I assume there’s a “lady lair”. Well it just depends on whether the Titans are in town or not. I rarely miss a home game and in the past have gone to away games too. The sports gigs limit that in large part now. If the Titans are away I am co-hosting a Sunday morning pre-game show. Then I usually hit the lady lair to chill and watch games. When Sunday evening rolls around it’s back upstairs at the laptop watching Sunday Night Football and manning the SB Nation fantasy football desk.
Tell me about a hobby/interest outside of football. Since the sports gig has taken off I don’t have a lot of extra time and I’m not complaining one bit. I do love cooking and wine so when I have some free time I can be found combining those two things. I am a voracious reader and am constantly reading usually online now. My biggest non sports love though is gaming. I have a PS3 and an XBox 360 and they see a lot of love when i have downtime. Mostly I play RPGs (role playing games) but if I get a chance I am going to revisit the shooter genre.
Which football writers are on your must-read list? Gosh, there are so many great writers out there. Nationally, I read a lot of the writers at SB Nation because they do a fantastic job. I think Judy Battista is a fantastic writer and the NFL website is lucky to have grabbed her. There is som fantastic content being written at NGN as well. Finally, be sure to check out the great articles being written by the women who cover their teams for NFL Female. There are some smart and informed women writing there. Locally obviously Jim Wyatt does a fantastic job as does John Glennon for the Tennessean. My must not miss however are the funny writers over at Kissing Suzy Kolber and Deadspin. I tend toward the irreverent side too and can identify with that type writing.
Tell me about any plugs that you’d like. Sites, podcasts, projects, anything. Well, first of all I want to thank you for finding me interesting enough to follow on twitter and ask me these questions. You have a good feel for what I do which is humbling. I do have my own website and you can find it at www.sportsbysharona.com. My twitter handle is @SportsBySharona and I am on google plus as well.
Thanks Sharona for answering my questions.
Want to support the site or just like reading about fantasy football experts? Then buy my book There Still Is No Off Season: Interviews 51-100 of the Ask Your Fantasy Football Expert Series.