Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Media Love Big Ben

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Media Love Big Ben

Article excerpt

I was watching the NBA Finals the other night, and Ben

Coleman's face popped on the screen at halftime and told me

about the yummy new chicken biscuit at Burger King.

I was driving in my car the other day, and Ben Coleman was

being interviewed on the radio about the Jaguars' chances of

winning the Super Bowl this season.

I was at the Jaguars' minicamp earlier this week, and a local

TV reporter was working on an in-depth feature about Ben

Coleman.

I half expect to be watching the 6 o'clock news one night and

see Donna Hicken interviewing Ben Coleman about the fires. Or

switching stations and seeing Tom Wills asking Ben Coleman about

the new superintendent of schools. Or reading a Ron Littlepage

editorial and learning that it is indeed Ben Coleman who is

leading the fight to have the St. Johns designated as an

American Heritage River.

"Ben will talk to anybody about anything at anytime," says Tony

Boselli, who plays beside Coleman on the Jaguars' offensive

line. "He's the best quote on the team, and he gets a lot of

notoriety because of it."

Memo to all the rookies who are taking part in the Jaguars'

mini-camp: Be like Ben.

Coleman may be the only little-known offensive lineman ever who

is in danger of overexposure. He has transformed an outgoing

personality, a marquee smile and a good-guy image into near-cult

status among those of us in the media who regularly cover the

Jags. In our sometimes cynical, often adversarial world of

deadlines and sound bites, Ben rules. He is one of a kind -- the

first 6-foot-5, 330-pound media darling in sports history.

When we march into the locker room after games looking for

answers, we ask Ben the questions. Not because he says

outlandish things or makes controversial comments, but because

he is honest, intelligent, candid and pleasant. And, believe me,

pleasant is very important. After the Jaguars have lost a game,

the space around Coleman's locker is standing-room only. He is a

sanctuary, an oasis among these very large, very angry men whose

somber glares seem to scream: "NO TRESPASSING! …

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