Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brooks' Bunch: Day Two in New York

Derrick Brooks' traveling group of students started Monday on the CBS Early Show and ended it atop the Empire State Building, with several informative stops in between

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LB Derrick Brooks thrilled Hannah Storm of the CBS Early Show with a gift of his jersey

Despite a late night in Times Square to end Day One of the Brooks' Bunch & Beyond 2003 adventure, the group got off to an early start on Monday with an appearance on the CBS Early Show with Hannah Storm.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Derrick Brooks and his Brooks' Bunch program are in the early stages of an 11-day tour of New York City, Chicago, Atlanta and Tallahassee, FL, where they are focusing on the educational and career options in each city. Monday was the group's second day in New York City, and it began with an 8:50 a.m. live interview on the Early Show. The group, which included the 29 traveling students in Brooks' Bunch, all dressed in Brooks' number-55 jersey, arrived at the CBS Building on 5th avenue at 8:00 a.m.

The early arrival allowed the students an opportunity to absorb the sights of downtown New York on a weekday morning. As they waited, two characters from J.K. Rowling's newest Harry Potter book who were entertaining a group of children made their way over to the group and performed several magic tricks for the students.

As the live shot approached, Storm ventured over to the Brooks' Brunch group on the steps of the CBS Building to learn more about the 2003 & Beyond program. During the interview, as most of Brooks' fellow travelers stood in the background, 17 year-old Cyndi Bailey of Wharton High School accompanied him during the interview and answered some questions from Storm.

"I was real nervous," said Bailey later. "I was real shaky and Derrick told me I was going first. When I met Hannah, she tried to calm me down. She was hugging me and telling me not to get nervous and that made me feel a lot better."

Storm seemed as excited to meet Brooks as Bailey was to confront a national audience. When the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year presented Storm with a Brooks jersey from one of the students, the veteran reporter was genuinely thrilled. And when Brooks personalized the jersey to Storm, she could hardly contain her excitement.

"This is great," beamed Storm. "I'm so excited. Thank you."

Bailey, a young anchor in training, acquitted herself nicely and, with her adrenaline level returning to normal, joined the rest of Brooks' Bunch on a brief tour of the CBS Early Show studio. A production manager explained to the students what the Early Show employees do and how they broke into the field, also noting that they have to be at the office at 4:00 a.m. five days a week.

From the CBS Building, the Brooks' Bunch headed off to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), where they learned about the career opportunities available in the fashion industry.

FIT, the students were informed, is comprised of several schools, including Art & Design, Business & Technology and the Continuing & Professional Education. The Art & Design School is for students who want to be fashion designers, such as Brooks' Buncher Shardawn Monroe, the Business & Technology School is for fashion buyers and sellers and the Continuing Education School offers an array of courses for those returning to school.

The students then learned about the specific programs offered by FIT, including Accessories Design, Direct Marketing, Fashion Design, Illustration, Packaging Design, Photography, and Toy Design, and about the FIT internship programs and the fashion industry employment opportunities that abound in New York City.

"I was curious about how I can become involved in the fashion industry," said the 15 year-old Monroe. "I want to be a fashion designer, so I was very interested in what FIT had to offer."

Lunch at Planet Hollywood, next on the agenda, gave the students a chance to discuss their visit to FIT and write about the experience in their trip journals.

A visit to the Vibe magazine offices was next for Brooks' Bunch. Touring the offices, the students met many of the people who make Vibe the second largest music magazine, with a subscription base of over 850,000.

During their two hours at Vibe, the students met the human resource manager, an advertising representative, the music editor, the assistant managing editor and the lifestyle editor, in addition to the director of marketing, director of photography, editor in chief of Vibe's sister magazine Spin and the CEO/CFO of Vibe, Alex Mironovich.

Mironovich discussed with the students the factors that set Vibe apart from other magazines (it's the voice of urban culture), explained Vibe's rise to success (followed the boom of hip-hop and rap), how the magazine plans issues (they usually work three months in advance) and how to succeed in life (keep an open mind).

"When I first got there I thought it was going to be boring," said 17 year-old Zsantel Allen of Brandon High School. "Then we got there and they started talking about what they did and I thought it was very interesting."

Mironovich fielded questions from the students for nearly 20 minutes, before stepping aside to let his employees explain their job functions and provide an insight into the magazine publishing business for the students.

"I'm impressed with all of the questions they had," said Mironovich. "They asked about all of the things you need to know to succeed and they all have so much enthusiasm. It's a great group of kids."

The students peppered a phalanx of Vibe employees with dozens of rapidly paced questions. Overall, they discovered that, while the magazine's workers may have fun at their jobs, they still have to work very hard.

"I liked the music director and the lifestyle editor positions," said Allen. "Their jobs sound really interesting and I love listening to music and would love to be able to do all the things that the lifestyle guy gets to do, like drive the Hummer and BMW."

A special visitor to the Vibe presentation was Sia Michel, the editor-in-chief of Spin magazine and the first woman ever to head a major rock magazine.

Michel discussed the opportunities that have opened for women in the past decade since she became involved in the music magazine world and touched on the inspiration for her career choices and what it's like to manage a magazine as a woman.

After learning all about the art and business of magazine production, the students were presented with special gift bags by the employees at Vibe, with each bag containing several CDs, a few issues of Vibe, a Frisbee and miscellaneous Vibe merchandise.

Since this particular group happens to be traveling the United States with one of the National Football League's most recognizable stars, a trip to the NFL Headquarters in New York was a natural. The league office had arranged a special evening for the students.

The evening at 280 Park Avenue began in the NFL Officiating Center, where all games are reviewed and NFL referees are judged on their performances. The students were told about the high level of scrutiny on referees, the referee grading system and how referees can be fined for various offenses, ranging from getting autographs to making poor calls. The meeting providing a rare insight into the pressure placed upon the men in stripes on an average Sunday.

A detailed account of the marketing of the NFL and its players followed, as the students learned all about the NFL halftime shows and how the NFL coordinates player appearances on cable networks.

Public relations was next on the agenda, with the students hearing about the history of the game, how to pitch stories, media training for the players and what a "PR nightmare" is.

Brooks' Bunch then learned a little bit about what other players in the NFL do in their communities through NFL Community Relations. Among the topics were NFL Tuesdays (the league-wide community service day), Hometown Huddle (an NFL/United Way partnership) and Community Quarterback (a program to recognize local volunteers in each NFL city).

The informational session concluded with a description of the special events department - "We do everything you don't see" - and the distribution of gift bags containing Super Bowl XXXVII merchandise.

Brooks Bunch then headed to its final destination of the day, the Empire State Building. At the tallest building in New York, the students were taken to the 86th floor observation deck and provided with audio tour tapes. As they listened to 'Tony,' the automated tour guide, the students started around in wide-eyed wonder at the vast New York City skyline. The students were amazed by the sight, and satisfied by their first full day in New York.

"It went great," said Bailey. "It was all fun."

You can follow the travels of Brooks' Bunch and Beyond 2003 through daily updates here on Buccaneers.com. On Wednesday, look for a description of the group's additional travels through New York City, including stops at Julliard, the Apollo Theatre and Rockefeller Center.

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