So I was skimming through old newspapers earlier this evening when I stumbled upon a recent New York Times profile of Jay Glazer, a well-known NFL reporter for Fox Sports.
I certainly know of Glazer, though I probably wouldn’t recognize him were he to knock on my door. He’s been around quite a while; one of those loud TV guys who yells and barks to add emphasis to his points. I’ve never heard anything especially bad or good about the man, primarily because the modern-day NFL isn’t my turf.
The Times story, however, turned my stomach.
When he’s not reporting on NFL players and teams, Glazer, ahem, works for NFL players and teams. Literally. He is a mixed martial arts trainer whose clients include two franchises (the Falcons and Rams) and, apparently, dozens of players, ranging from Ryan Grant to Patrick Willis to Matt Leinart. As in, they pay him for his services.
This, journalistically, is a joke. An embarrassing, pathetic, worst-of-its-kind joke.
When I started at Sports Illustrated in 1996, the editor, Bill Colson, had a policy: You were to receive no gifts/handouts from teams/players/etc that valued in excess of $10. Many of us (myself included) took it a step further: We accepted nothing. Absolutely nothing. When, say, the Los Angeles Dodgers passed out hats in the press box on hat day, we politely declined. Same for T-shirts and sweatbands and baseballs and footballs and, well, everything. Not because we thought we were anything special, or because we wanted to hold up some phony journalistic credo. We behaved in such a manner because we never, ever wanted a player or team to hold something over our heads. “How could you write that, when … we gave you a hat?”
Glazer, on the other hand, accepts money from the very people he’s covering. One minute he’s helping Brian Cushing become a better athlete, the next he’s supposed to be telling us all he knows about the man—warts included. As clients, these players certainly expect—and receive—a high level of confidentiality. To work out under someone’s watch is to provide him with incredible access; access you don’t want displayed to the public. So what if Glazer hears Leinart calling a hooker? What if he sees Cushing (funny example) poppin ‘roids? What if he doesn’t think Grant is an especially hard worker? Does he sleep on the information, or does he ruin his ties with the players by reporting it? The answer is obvious: He sleeps on it.
On his Twitter page, Glazer was bragging about attending Jared Allen’s recent wedding. A. If you’re covering the NFL, you don’t befriend (closely) a player, and you sure as hell don’t attend his wedding. Again, what if Jared Allen gets drunk and vomits all over the cake? What if he punches Brett Favre? What if he doesn’t show up? Do you write it? The true journalist does. A guy like Glazer almost certainly does not.
Equally shameful, of course, is Fox—yet again. This violates more journalistic standards than one can count. Even if Glazer is completely unbiased (a human impossibility), perception outweighs reality. How can anyone take his reporting seriously? How can anyone believe they’re getting the full story? All the details? And if this is the route we’re going, why even hire real reporters? Why shouldn’t the Times or Daily News place, say, Jay Horwitz on the payroll as a “Mets insider”?
Glazer told the Times he’s not trying to be a regular NFL reporter; that he’s trying to “build a brand.”
Indeed, he’s well on his way.
Suggested brand name: Phony Reporter, Inc.
PS: Important note. Some will read this and say, “You’re just jealous.” I assure you, such is not the case. I didn’t enter journalism to become a celebrity. And I loathe many of those who have. I love the craft of writing; the details of reporting; etc. The last thing I want is to be “a brand.” Ugh.
PPS: Oddly, I have nothing against this man. For all I know, he’s a wonderful person. It’s more what journalism’s becoming, and how people like Glazer ruin it for genuine reporters.