Fox’s Jay Glazer dishes on new Fox Sports 1 show and battles with ESPN

ImageJay Glazer of Fox Sports is the bane of ESPN.

Despite competing with Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter and the rest, Glazer’s the No. 1  NFL Insider, breaking stories such as the labor deal that saved the 2011 season, the many moves of Brett Favre and, most famously, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots “Spygate” scandal.

He’s also broken NFL scandals such as Plaxico Burress of the New York Giants shooting himself at a nightclub, Oakland Raiders center Barret Robbins going AWOL the night before the Super Bowl and, my personal favorite, scoring surveillance video of two players brawling at the Palms casino in Las Vegas.

The longtime football insider for Fox NFL Sunday’s is relentless, well-connected and feisty. He’ll get in anybody’s face if his scoops aren’t respected.

In a recent flare-up with the Worldwide Leader, Glazer mocked ESPN’s policy of attributing info broken by him and other competitors as “sources.” He tweeted: “Does their auto correct automatically change @jayglazer to Sources?”  ESPN changed its policy, at least when it comes to him.

Image 2The 43-year old Glazer grew up in Manalapan, N.J., (graduating from the same high school that later produced Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino of MTV’s Jersey Shore). As Neil Best of Newsday reported, he broke into TV in the mid-1990’s while covering the New York Jets and Giants for the New York Post and local TV station NY1.

Glazer lived in a dumpy Manhattan apartment, where the ceiling caved in one memorable night like an “Inspector Clouseau movie,” he recalls. But he developed tight friendships with players like Michael Strahan of the Giants who helped make him the go-to guy for NFL players. After an off-camera role at CBS’ The NFL Today, he landed the Fox gig in 2004 and never looked back.

Away from the field, Glazer’s a mixed martial artist who posted a 4-3 record before focusing on training. He’s brought his dual interests of football and MMA together by training dozens of NFL, MLB and NHL players through MMAthletics, a company he started with UFC legend and close friend Randy Couture. 

Those relationships with players made him the target of critics who warned the New York Times‘ Richard Sandomir he could have “competing loyalties.” Glazer fired back via Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated: “”Some people have criticized me for getting close [with players], but my job is to get the fans scoops and information and the real inside story, and that comes from relationships.”

Image 1Sports Biz USA’s Mike McCarthy interviewed Glazer about what role he’ll play in Fox’s new, all-sports cable channels slated to launch this year. John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal says Fox will rebrand its Speed and Fuel channels and relaunch them as Fox Sports 1 and 2 in August.

We also talked about the UFC and Fox, his turf wars with ESPN and whether Jim or John Harbaugh should try to ice the opposing team’s kicker in today’s Super Bowl XLVII between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens. Excerpts:

What will you be doing for Fox’s new sports cable channels?

We’re trying to get something done. A daily football show. All my crazy stories. I have a story for everything. There would be lot of interaction with fans. Just trying to bring you something that’s a little bit different than everybody else. It’s not your normal football show where you sit down and go over A, B, C and D.  It’s a lot more a high octane … We’ll see if we can get it worked out.

Has ESPN ever taken a run at you?

Not really … I’ve been with CBS and Fox. I could not be happier.

What’s your contract status with Fox?

Again, we’re trying to do something now because of this new network … I’m just trying to get a deal done with Fox Sports 1 for this show. Fox is where I want my home to be for a long, long time.

Is training NFL players a conflict of interest?

That story is so old and dead. How many stories have I broken? I think people look at my track record and say: ‘This guy is bringing the news first. He’s bringing the news right and correct.’…I don’t make any money off these guys. All the money that comes in goes to the equipment and the fighters. (Sportswriters) write books with athletes. They’re making money. They’re living with these guys. Why is that any less of a conflict of interest … Look, I’ve got two different careers. I’ve got a fight career. And I’ve got an NFL career. I like merging them together.  It helps me preach the MMA way, preach the way of the UFC, which is part of my life. I love it.

Is MMA still the sport of the future in USA? Or has it peaked?

It’s getting bigger and bigger … The (pro athletes) who come in. They are so star-struck with the fighters. They want that fighter mentality — of pushing yourself to the breaking point. A fighter has to shake off something bad happening faster than anybody else out there. They have to shake off a mistake immediately. I think pro athletes will look up to fighters more and more. The UFC will just get bigger and bigger.

Who are your favorite UFC fighters? I’ve always loved Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell.

Chuck and Randy. Those are two of my closest friends. I became friends with them in the very early days, right when they fought the first time. I had a couple of fights back then. Became friends with them. Didn’t know what I didn’t know. I really learned a lot from them. Back then, nobody really knew who they were … Many years ago, Marcus Allen and Warren Moon had a party in LA. I brought Chuck. People were asking, ‘Who’s your friend with the mohawk and tattoo on his head?’ Then I came back a year later and the same people were saying, ‘Can I get a picture with your friend Chuck Liddell?’

ronda-espnWhat do you think of Dana White’s newest UFC star, ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey, who’ll fight Feb. 23?

She’s phenomenal. She is the real deal man. She is tough. She’s like an anaconda. In real life, she couldn’t be sweeter. She’s a competitor.

Was Fox smart to sign a deal with UFC and put it on broadcast TV?

Fox is always cutting edge, man. They always come out of the box. I tell you the greatest difference. When I was at CBS, we used to have the NFL seminar before the season. It was like this real long, conservative day. Then I went to Fox and I showed up in a sports coat. They looked at me like I committed a crime. They were like, ‘Hang out, chill out, come, just be.’ David Hill and Eric Shanks make you feel like you are showing up to their party every day. Like you’re invited to the coolest party in the world every day. That’s what really what it is. David Hill and Eric Shanks are like, ‘You’re going to come to our party and have fun.’

Back to the NFL. Does ‘icing’ the kicker work? It sure as hell backfired on Seahawks coach Pete Carroll against the Falcons in the playoffs.

It’s ridiculous. When does it really work? It does nothing but make you second-guess yourself. And makes everybody second-guess you. Let the guy go out and kick the damn thing. He either makes it — or he doesn’t. But getting him to think about it some more? C’mon. The dude’s a professional athlete. If he was a head case, he’s not going to be out there in the first place. I’m just not a fan of it. I don’t think it works. The risk/reward just isn’t worth it. This is pro football. Let them line up. Let them play. Either he makes it or he doesn’t.

Was adding rules expert Mike Pereira a game-changer for Fox? I’ve noticed competing networks trying to bring in ‘experts’ without the same success.

Everybody is trying to get the next Mike Pereira. But there is none. He’s phenomenal at what he does. He gets the stuff correct. He gives you a different look. Fans want to know instantly. Is this right? Is it wrong? Why? The refs have become as much a part of the story as anybody else.

We have the foremost authority on it all. It’s fantastic. The other people who are hired to do the same thing as Mike? They can’t carry his zebra stripes. Football fans these days know more than they ever have. You can’t treat them like you’re going to teach them something new. They know … The thing with Fox, they let us be who we are. If you have a personality, great, they want us to use it. Not only do they let me be who I am. They cultivate it. A guy like Mike. He’s not just some ex-ref, the guy has a personality. He’s entertaining. He’s an entertaining watch.

How do you compete with Mortensen, Schefter, John Clayton and the rest at ESPN?

I just hope my relationships stand up more than theirs .. .It’s all about the relationships you have with people. The business now is so incredibly competitive. We put more and more pressure, and stress, on our own sources. All of us. Because there’s so much more stress, and pressure, to have that big story and be first and be right. Even our sources and people in the league realize how much more competitive and second by second and minute by minute it is … It’s all  about loyalty. You have to make sure people are loyal to you. You just got to make sure you never screw anybody over. You’ve got to make sure those lines of communication are open for years and years.

Is ESPN out of hand by labeling info from competitors like yourself as ‘sources?’ 

Absolutely. I’m not a ‘source.’ Nor is anybody else. If we are, then cut us a check. I have no problem if you want to use me as a source. But cut me a check. Otherwise you’re not paying me, I’m not your source. All they have to do is say ‘reports.’ If you don’t want to use my name, or anybody’s else name, that’s still really petty. But OK, you don’t want anybody to know you got beat by your competitor. But use ‘reports,’ not ‘sources.’

It’s not just me. I see it with all my brethren in every other sport. I wish more would speak up about it. I’m friendly with a lot of the guys at ESPN. We’re in this together. We don’t have to act like we have every single scoop. We are in this together. We all work in the same office and that office is sports. You don’t take credit for other people’s work … Some fans really keep track of this. They keep scorecards. Other fans don’t care. They get frustrated we care so much. But we care because that’s how I get judged by my bosses. It’s how I’m judged in whether or not I’m going to get a raise. So I care. You’re darn right.

Why does ESPN do it?  Because they tout themselves as Worldwide Leader?

I don’t know. We’re all in this together. I don’t get it. It’s the way they sell themselves. ‘We’re the WWL, we have every single story out there …’ I don’t think they need to do it. They’re great at what they do. They’ve changed the way sports is on TV. Everybody else is playing catch-up. I don’t think they need to do that.

How is your job changing with increased competition?

As ESPN gets more and more (reporters), and NFL Network gets more and more and people, it’s harder and harder for me to do the minute by minute. I can’t keep up with 10 guys at each place. You know, I just can’t do it. What I try and do now is only report when things get done. I don’t do the minute by minute. Same with Favre. I didn’t do the second by second. When the man got traded to Jets, I had it.

That is as much for the fans as it is for my own sanity … With the lockout, I didn’t do anything. It was like reporting on a boxing match where you’re reporting every jab and feint. I’ll just report when there’s a knockout or a decision on the scorecards … I try to report as much as I can –when it’s done. If I get it, great. Stuff I get beat on, I get beat on.

Does the press love the process story, the tick-tock of what went down and where?

Everybody goes after that. But it doesn’t make any sense for me to do it. If you link somebody to eight places, and they go to one of them, well then 7 of the 8 are wrong. I only care about getting it right. I don’t care even that much about getting it first. I just care about getting it right. That’s all I care about.

So now when I say something, or report something, hopefully fans can say, ‘We can put more stock into this because we know he only reports stuff when it’s done.’ It’s a big thing for me. I’m not being cliched. I’m not being hokey. As a result, I lose out on a lot of stories … I’d rather hit a home run than a single. I just don’t want to make an error.

Even Jacksonville Jaguars appear to have no interest in Tim Tebow. Is he done?

It’s hard to do business with Tim Tebow. That’s actually a quote I took from a head coach I’m friendly with. It’s hard to do business with him because of all the other stuff. Because all of a sudden, training camp is televised. ESPN’s sending people up there to do a whole week. NFL Network.  Everybody’s there — just for a backup.

So many of these coaches just want it all about football. Wherever Tim goes, is going to be a circus.  There’s going to be people who are jealous of the attention that he gets. So you’re going to have a lot of backbiting. You’re going to have a lot of people talking …Unless somebody says, ‘He’s our starting quarterback.’ Then you have to bring in different coaches. You have to run a different scheme. You have to do a whole totally different thing. I don’t see why anybody else would do that.

Name your biggest scoop?

Spygate is No. 1 by far. Spygate was enormous.

What happened to the defending champion Giants this season?

I don’t think they had a the same defense. Last year, when they won it, and the year they won it when Strahan was there, that defense set the tone. They were feared. They were dudes you did not want to mess with. And they didn’t have that this year.

It all starts with that pressure up front. If they don’t get that pressure up front, theyre not going to be the same old effective Giants. It really starts with those guys. They just weren’t there … Osi (Umenyiora) got after it this year. But nobody else really did.

Even star players are wondering out loud about the future of the NFL due to mounting concerns over concussions and on-field violence. Your thoughts?

I love the NFL … Can there be injuries? Yes. There can be injuries in hockey, in fighting, in a ton of stuff. I think the confidence it builds in young guys, the teamwork. The social skills it builds for young kids. It’s not something I’m going to hold my kid back from. I think there’s an awful lot of benefits … Most of these football players understood what they were getting into and they understand the risks of doing it. They know they’re going to get banged up doing this sport — but they love it.

I asked Jerome Bettis once during warm-ups: ‘If I told you at 18 or 20 or 30 (years of age), I’d give you this career. But at 30 you’re going to have trouble walking, at 40 youre going to have a horrible limp and 50 you’d be in a wheelchair, would you still do it?’ Absolutely he said. That’s the mentaility of a lot of guys … For me personally, training in MMA has helped me as a person. It’s helped with confidence, the camaraderie I have with other people I train with. It’s helped me in an awful lot of ways.

Ever picture your pal Michael Strahan as host of a daytime morning show?

He can do anything he wants. People don’t realize his worth ethic. He has the uncanny ability to make people at home think, ‘He’s talking to me. I feel this connection with him.’ I knew he was different the first appearance he ever did. He and I went together. It was at a synagogue in Long Island … I was at NY1.  He was the Giants’ top pick, but he was injured. So we go out to do this appearance.

I tell you there weren’t two people under 75. A whole bunch of senior citizens. He got up there, and I’m telling you, he brought the house down. He’s talking to 80-year old Jewish men. He had this place roaring. I said: ‘This guy is different.’ Talk about a scenario where you think, ‘Oh this guy is going to sink.’ And he just lit it up. They were like, ‘Oh Jay, thank you so much for bringing him. This guy is just incredible. We’re going to watch his career now. We’re going to root for him.’ It was phenomenal. He brought the house down. It may have been one of the best appearances he ever did. And it was his first one.

Photo credits: Fox Sports

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