"It's tough," Anderson says. "If I could pick one guy who really stuck out the most and had the biggest impression on me, it was Junior Seau. I always wore his jersey: No. 55. I felt so tough because his name was 'Say-ow!' What cooler name could you have?"
Seau's suicide was particularly disturbing: The 43-year-old former San Diego Chargers star shot himself in the chest, the same way former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson ended his life in 2011. Duerson, 50, used that method so his brain could be studied for damage. It was later confirmed that Duerson suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease that results from enduring concussions and repeated head traumas. Seau didn't leave a note explaining why he shot himself in the chest, but his family is considering donating his brain to science.
Between telling stories, Anderson, 25, sips an IPA and checks his phone roughly every 20 seconds for Twitter updates.
Seau's death carries extra meaning for him. Since January, Anderson has been writing the blog NFLConcussionLitigation.com, which tracks concussion-related lawsuits against the NFL. His project, which he initially started to get the attention of potential employers, has become the comprehensive online resource about the 74 lawsuits filed by former players. Perhaps not coincidentally, the day Seau died, Anderson's website received its most traffic - around 4,000 hits.
NFLConcussionLitigation.com is a treasure trove for reporters, lawyers, former players and anyone else interested in the lawsuits. Anderson maintains spreadsheets that organize and list the approximately 2,146 plaintiffs by the lawsuits they are named in, and he has collected court documents and filings from the cases and the league's responses.
"My last semester, I didn't really care about law school," he says, noting that he graduated summa cum laude. "I figured that this was more important."
His fastidiousness is getting the blog noticed by marquee names in the national sports media. Mike Florio, a lawyer and football expert on NBC's Pro Football Talk website, has quoted and linked to the site. Slate's sports podcast, Hang Up and Listen, also touted Anderson's work on a recent show. USA Today and The Dallas Morning News have both directed readers to Anderson's site in the last three weeks. Now, he says, he's getting requests to write guest posts on websites and do interviews on talk shows.
Anderson still wants to be an attorney; he plans to take the bar exam this summer. He's just hoping that sports-oriented law firms will notice him and offer jobs.
Despite his ascension in the ranks of nationwide concussion-litigation experts, Anderson says he wasn't trying to become a professional blogger. As the popularity of his site has grown, Anderson says, he has received a couple of offers from publication companies to put his writing behind a paywall or start a similar site for profit.
"My purpose is to get my name out there, break into the industry, and I think that [a paywall] would defeat the purpose," he says. "Hopefully, this is an investment."
His desire to work as a sports attorney or an attorney for a league is why he attempts to write without bias. (He does admit to writing a post about a new lawsuit because the firm filing it cut him a check.)
Anderson says it's dangerous to put the blame for long-term head trauma entirely on the NFL. At this point, he argues, current football players know what they're getting into.
"At the end of the day, the responsibility - a lot of it - does lie on the player," he says.
That doesn't mean he isn't sympathetic to retired players. Halfway through his second beer, he tells a story that illustrates just how awful things can be for the players he writes about. Following an April conference in Las Vegas for a faction of retired players trying to shake benefits out of the NFL and NFL Players Association - he describes it as a "bitchfest" - he spent several hours at the airport with a retired former Pro Bowl player. He won't name the player because the Pro Bowler is not involved in any lawsuits, but the player is considering joining one. The former star was a mess.
"We spent four hours hanging out before we caught flights. I just felt like I was his mom," Anderson says. "He was super nice, but he would just leave stuff. He would lose stuff. It was an eye-opening experience for me."
The player kept asking where his ticket was and had to claim a misplaced briefcase at the airport's lost and found, Anderson recalls. "I was just like, this is scary, man," he says. The player didn't know about chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Even though it's an affront to his libertarian political beliefs, Anderson says players' mental health should be cared for after they retire.
"If you put in some time, I think you're entitled to lifetime neurological benefits," he says. "And it's only going to benefit everybody because the NFL doesn't want to continue to be stained by these suicides."
Anderson kills his beer and leaves the dimly lighted bar for the startling clarity of the steamy, sun-drenched street. His phone buzzes, again commanding his attention. "Cool," he says, reading the message. "I'm going to do a radio interview this weekend."