Chris Conley earns this year's media GATA award

semerson@macon.comDecember 20, 2013 

Chris Conley, center, holding the 2013 Christian Robinson GATA media award. On the left is Robinson, and on the right is head coach Mark Richt.

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ATHENS - Chris Conley, known for his big words and pitch-perfect sentences, is this year's winner of the media GATA award.

The award, voted on by media that covers the Georgia football team, stands for Gracious Attitude Towards Answering. It is named for Christian Robinson, the current Georgia graduate assistant coach who, when he was a junior inside linebacker in 2011, was the first-ever recipient.

Robinson accompanied Conley after Friday's practice for the award "ceremony," which preceded head coach Mark Richt's meeting with the press.

Afterwards, Conley equated how a player handles speaking to the media with hoe they react to plays on the field.

"I think it's important to your brand," said Conley, a journalism major. "Everyone wants to talk about branding, but do we really know what it means? I think the way you present yourself, the way you talk to the media, the way you present yourself when you play, how does he look when he makes a big play, how does he look when he messes up a play, I think is the same sort of thing. It adds to your brand, so I think you should take it seriously." Last year's winner was then-junior tight end Arthur Lynch, who as a senior this year put on a strong effort to repeat. There were a number of other worthy candidates, such as Ray Drew, who on one Tuesday this season graciously answered media questions for about 45 minutes - and it was only discovered later that he wasn't on the media list, and had just shown up anyway.

But Conley's resume' of quotes and record of accessibility proved too hard to beat.

The junior receiver is known for throwing around words like symbiotic, organizing a film featuring Star Wars lightsaber duels, and this year for being Georgia's leading receiver.

Conley's cell phone wallpaper has a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "To be yourself in a world that's constantly pushing yourself to be something else is the greatest accomplishment."

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