Eddie Paskal, 25, is a millennial. By popular stereotype Paskal as a millennial should be the leader of his own one-man parade, guided by spectacular intuition and insight that are his alone, stopping only momentarily to acknowledge his admirers, annoyed by the impertinence of a critical question.
Paskal could take that bait of course. It would be tempting. Paskal is a full-time employee of the most-discussed team right now in the NFL. And it’s not like Paskal works 40 hours a week in the Oakland Raiders’ cafeteria dispensing those delicious pancakes. Paskal is one of two writers for raiders.com. He goes wherever the Raiders go, like this past Monday to Mexico for the Houston game. Responsible mostly for online content, the 2009 graduate of Cardinal Newman knows and has interviewed everyone great and small in the organization, spending most of his time with the players.
He’s three years out of college (Oregon).
This is the only full-time job he’s ever had.
And this should be about the time I ask for his autograph and wonder if he’ll give it to me.
Instead, this is what I get.
“I am very aware how fortunate I am,” Paskal said. “There are people as qualified, if not more so, than me. I don’t take anything for granted. I don’t think my path is the kind of path that is normal.”
His voice is without judgment or volume. Rather, it is soft, polite and forgiving. Near the end of our interview, Paskal said he played soccer for Newman. I blushed. I apologized — near the beginning of the interview I unwittingly stepped in a verbal gopher hole: I said soccer bores me.
“I’m sorry, Eddie. What an idiot to say that, especially at the beginning of the interview. But you didn’t say a thing.”
“That’s OK,” Paskal said in that soft, polite, forgiving voice. “No big deal. No worries.”
He meant it. He wasn’t condescending. And as he told his tale of how he came to be with the Raiders, never once did he wash himself with praise. In one respect, how could he?
His mother, Adrienne, started it all. Wasn’t like he found himself at a bar having a drink with Derek Carr.
“She asked me what I wanted to do with my life.”
Yes, that’s how Paskal began his journey to the NFL. It was 2013. Paskal had just graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Oregon. He had worked for the school. He did some writing for the Eugene Emeralds, a short-season Class A minor-league baseball team.
“Mom, I’d like to stay in sports,” he said.
Well, Adrienne said, I know someone in the Newman library whose daughter works for the Raiders. Paskal was told to send a letter seeking employment. Time passed. Oh well, Paskal thought. Then came the call. There’s an opening as a public relations intern. Paskal interviewed twice. Got the job. He started the day before training camp opened in Napa in 2013. It was a part-time job.
Thus it began to where he is today — “Senior Insider” is his job title. If Paskal is pinching himself, he is doing it out of eyesight.