Jan 27, 2014
By Drew Magary
From : GQ
Listen up, all you football-loving slap nuts: Pretty much every bit of dirt you know about the NFL—every feud, every trade, every bozo busted for a DWI—you heard it first from smack-talking, F-bombing Fox Sports reporter Jay Glazer. He’s crazy good at his job because he’s basically, well, crazy
The first time Jay Glazer landed a big Super Bowl scoop, he was in San Diego in a limousine headed to a Styx concert, drinking beer and surrounded by about ten women.
This was 2003. The day before Tampa Bay beat Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII. “I get a call,” Glazer tells me, “and my source says, ‘You may want to get out of the limo. [Raiders center] Barret Robbins lost his mind and left the team. Not playing tomorrow, and apparently he’s down in Mexico.’ Then I get a call back from someone in the [Raiders] locker room who says, ‘You calling about B-Rob? We are going to freaking kill him if we see his ass. We are so pissed off.’ And then somebody else called. And then, boom, boom—I’ve got my three sources.”
“Why were you going to a Styx concert?” I ask. “Do you like Styx?”
Glazer looks at me like I’m an idiot. “I get a call from one of the girls like, ‘You wanna go to a Styx concert?’ Yeah, I love Styx.”
Barret Robbins’s wild bender is among the all-time-classic off-the-field Super Bowl stories—the resulting chaos basically murdered the Raiders’ chances—and Glazer, then at CBS, now at Fox, was the guy who broke it. So, no Styx concert for him.
“I said, ‘Ladies, as much as I want to hang with you, I’ve got to go.’ ”
And that right there is the perfect Jay Glazer story, starring Jay Glazer breaking news in the most Jay Glazer-y way imaginable.
If something crazy happens at this month’s Super Bowl, chances are you’ll learn about it from Jay Glazer, Fox NFL Sunday’s in-house league reporter and the best-connected man in football. The Robbins fiasco, the resolution of the 2011 NFL lockout, Brett Favre’s trade to the Jets, the secret videotape of the New England Patriots illegally spying on another team—Glazer got all of it first. He is the king of information at a time when there are way more media outlets trying to dig it up—and when NFL players, coaching staffs, and front offices have way less incentive to share it. And how he managed to find himself in this position involves a curious mix of old-school reporting chops and being—how do I put this?—the world’s most charming maniac.
We’ll start with the journalist-y stuff first. Because of Glazer’s three-source rule—he won’t run a story with anything less—his reports are rarely, if ever, wrong. He claims he’s never had to correct or retract a story in his career, which would make him an anomaly not just in NFL circles but in the entire profession of journalism. His network of NFL sources is so vast that he claims players and teams routinely consult with him about coaching hires and free-agent destinations.
“I’m an information broker,” Glazer says. “People call me about players. Players call me about coaches: I’m a free agent—do I want to work with this guy or this guy? Every locker room talks.”
Turns out that working hundred-hour weeks leaves head coaches with little time to learn about what the hell is going on with the other thirty-one teams in football, so Glazer is one of the very few guys they hit up when they need to explore the strange world outside their own film rooms. It also helps that Glazer keeps the same kind of insane working hours that coaches do, staying up all night on Saturdays working the phone to secure at least five scoops for his segments on Fox’s NFL Sunday broadcast. (He says Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez enjoys prank-calling him in the dead of night. “You know how many times he’s woken me up?” he says, laughing. “Fuck him.”) Steal his phone and you’d have direct lines to just about everyone in the NFL, including commissioner Roger Goodell.
“I text him a lot,” he says. “More inappropriate stuff than anything.”
Can I see one of the texts?
Do the players like him?
Do you like him?
“You’ll never meet him and think he’s an asshole. Never. He’s not like that. He’s a regular guy.”
And that right there is the real key to Glazer’s success, the thing that separates him from the dozen or so other super-sourced reporters on the NFL beat: an easy identification—some might say an overidentification—with the manly men he covers. He’s 205 pounds and built like a fucking grain silo, and in his spare time he trains NFL players in mixed martial arts—from stars like Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews to randoms like Saints wideout Kenny Stills.
Glazer’s immersion in the world of MMA is how he scored the first interview with Richie Incognito, the Miami Dolphin suspended for bullying his teammate: Glazer hooked up Incognito with one of his MMA trainers. Glazer insists he’s never made a profit from training a player, and weeks after the fact he still bristles at the accusation—levied by lots of sports reporters at the time—that he was soft on Incognito because they were friends.
“I was fuckin’ right down the pipeline. Could’ve asked him a thousand times: He’s not going to admit he’s a racist.”
Did you think he was a racist?
“He’s an idiot.”
Do you like Incognito?
But he’s an idiot. Why do you like him?
“I have a love for idiots. He’s a meathead, you know what I mean? I love everybody.”
And Glazer especially loves giving everybody shit. From the moment you meet him, you are not you. You are “jerky boy” or “slap nuts” or “dickhead.” The first time he met Tim Tebow—just recently, during a night out in Los Angeles—he teased him about his chastity.
“I said to Tebow, ‘You coming out to the club?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ I said, ‘When you come, you’re the bait. You’re a virgin, dude. You’re not hooking up with anybody, so you’re the bait. You sit right up there, and when all the girls come over, they’re all for me.’ ”
Later that night, Glazer sent Tebow a text that read Jay Glazer: Nonvirgin! Then he shows me what Tebow texted back:
Tim Tebow: Nonreporter!
Then there was the NFL player who quit football for good because his teammates caught him jerking off.
“They have, like, a computer room where the guys can go study film. And somebody caught him. Pants right down, going to town. And I guess he caught wind that they were gonna make fun of him, and [snaps his fingers] gone. He quit football. Never went back. Man up, man! It’s not like nobody else does it!”
After drinks, Glazer and I head back to his bachelor pad in Beverly Hills. He immediately hops on the phone and begins carpet-bombing contacts. (Sample voice mail he leaves: “Dickhead, what the fuck? I called you already once tonight. Call me.”) Eventually he hits pay dirt: An anonymous source tells him that Broncos defensive coordinator and interim head coach Jack Del Rio quietly interviewed for USC’s head-coaching vacancy. When Glazer hangs up, he literally beats his chest in excitement. He’ll be working until close to sunrise getting official confirmation.
“I won’t sleep. I’ll be up all fuckin’ night. It’s a hard night. It’s a bad existence, dude.”
That pressure clearly gets to Glazer on occasion. He is constantly selling you on his jokey demeanor, but there is an edge that never really goes away. That unrelenting intensity has nearly brought him to blows with more than one big-name NFL player, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger among them.
“We almost got into it once at the Tahoe Championship [golf tournament].”
“Just him. He’s an asshole. He was just being a dick. He was just being demeaning to me. I told him to go fuck himself.”
At the Pro Bowl in 2007, Glazer got into a shouting match with Peyton Manning after Manning made a lighthearted wisecrack to Glazer about New York Giants legend and ABC-talk-show co-host Michael Strahan’s divorce. (Glazer and Strahan are best friends.)
“I took it the wrong way,” he tells me now. “So I said, ‘FUCK YOU, PEYTON. Fuck you.’ I was just fucking screaming at him, yelling at him: ‘I’ll beat your ass. Don’t fucking treat me like a bitch, don’t talk about my friends and their fucking problems. I don’t give a shit who you are, okay? We’re fucking men. Just because you play football and I don’t does not make you any more of a man and does not mean you could beat my ass, because you cannot.’ It was pretty surreal. All of a sudden Peyton’s like, Aw, what did I get myself into?”
Do you feel like you reacted properly?
But here’s the kicker: According to Glazer, he and Manning are totally cool now. Bros. This happens a lot in Glazer’s orbit. Glazer almost always mends his fences—though not without a very real moment of tension first. He is a man who lives for pushing things right to the brink. I ask him if he’s gotten better with his temper over the years.
“I never had a temper!”
It is Sunday morning at the Fox NFL Sunday studio, and Glazer has his five scoops ready for broadcast. After the show, I sit down in a dressing room with Strahan, who’s also on the show, to chat about his good buddy. Strahan has known Glazer for more than two decades, and the root of their friendship is near-constant shit-giving. (Even Strahan’s fiancée gets into it: “I call [Glazer] Pussy Ears,” she says, “because he’ll shave his head and it looks like pubic hair right there,” pointing to the back of her ear.)
“I think Jay has gotten more intense,” Strahan says. “He’s always been a little moody fella. Jay has the personality of… Most people love him or hate him.”
Why would people hate him?
“I think people who hate him just don’t understand his personality. They don’t understand his energy levels. And most of the people who hate him are ones who are mad because he always seems to be the guy who breaks the story.”
Does he like being recognized?
“Oh, more than damn anybody else I’ve known,” he says, laughing. “He has a Napoleon complex, you know. He’s with a bunch of athletes and he always feels like he’s got to prove himself. But nobody can do what he does. Once you’re used to being that guy, it’s hard to not be that guy.”
You get sort of addicted to your relevance.
“Yeah. Exactly. Success is addictive. He’s weird, because in a sense, he’s the most caring and generous person, and he’s obviously also the most selfish person I’ve ever met.”
How is he selfish?
“All Jay, all day. But at the same time, he’s the most generous guy.”
The moment Strahan leaves, Glazer comes in and asks me what Strahan said about him.
He said you had a Napoleon complex.
“No, he didn’t say that. I’ll beat his ass. Is he out of his mind?”
Does that ever play into it with you?
“Fuck no! I walk around like I’m fucking six feet twelve. You kidding me? That ain’t a Napoleon complex—I’m just that freaking sure of myself. If I walk into a place, I just…I impose my will on the world. He’s a fucking jackwad.”
Do you like attention?
“You’re not my therapist. That’s what you’re coming off like. Fuck, I don’t know why I walk in a fucking place and own it. I’ve been like that my whole life!”
After I get home, Glazer will call me twice to insist that Strahan’s comments were entirely in jest. So, okay, Glazer ain’t the most introspective of guys. But you can hardly blame him. Glazer has climbed to the top of the NFL by pushing himself to be the alpha-est of alpha males, and—like the players he covers and hangs with—he’s never going to let his guard down. “We live in a dudes’ world,” he tells me. “Football, fights. What I love about locker rooms is you never have to grow up. It’s great. I’m 44 going on 7.”
Drew Magary is a GQ correspondent and a staff writer for Deadspin.