The Man In The Middle
Jay Glazer's exclusive sit-down interview with Richie Incognito last week was, in Glazer’s world, as big an interview get as we've seen this year in the NFL.
Before the interview, Glazer said he "held nothing back" and asked Incognito "everything." Did he fulfill that charter? Peter King thought Glazer handled the interview well, Deadspin called the segment “more theater than journalism” and you can read my review for SI.com here. The initial interview that aired on FOX NFL Sunday lasted about six minutes. There have been nearly 15 minutes of the interview since released on FOX Sports Live and FOX Football Daily. The complete transcript and video can be found here.
On Monday, I caught up with Glazer because I think viewers and readers can benefit from Glazer’s answering why he made some of the choices he made on questions, and to further expand on his relationship with Incongito. As he always does, Glazer answered every question asked of him.
It’s 7:45 p.m. on Monday right now as we talk….
I’m f----- tired.
I’m sure you are. I want to start off with this: What has been the biggest misconception from this interview?
By far, there were absolutely zero restrictions going in. Nothing, okay. He never asked for one. I never asked him. In fact I told him straight out going into this: There is nothing that is off-limits. He said, I hear you. And I said, "No, no, no, I am telling you, there is nothing that is off-limits because I don’t want you getting up after one or two questions and storming out. I am just letting you know." The last thing I want is a four-second interview on FOX NFL Sunday. He said, "Jay, if you held back and didn’t ask me, I would just have to answer it somewhere else. I’d rather you ask it." I said Great. So I didn’t give him any questions [ahead of time]. There was no deal. In fact, his agent was against [the interview]. I have been working this, man, since he got suspended.
So how would you define the ground rules for this interview?
Zero. There were absolutely zero ground rules. Nothing. There were certain things I felt I should ask. There were certain things I felt I shouldn’t ... Look, I knew going in the main things I wanted to hit were number one, the use of the n-word. I don’t care whether you say it is acceptable or not in locker rooms or anywhere else, I don’t think anyone either white or black should ever use the word. And I’m not on my high horse here. I hate the word. I think it should be completely out of the language, and the fact that it is used more and more today absolutely disgusts me. I can’t stand it. I think it’s awful our kids are growing up in a society where it is more and more acceptable. I hate to think that when my kid gets older, this will be part of the language.
I wanted to get bullying in. Like I said in the interview, whether he wants to think it or not, this guy is now labeled as the face of bullying in America. He is America’s bully. Number three, I wanted to get what happened with those guys and what the relationship was. What happened that day? I wanted to make sure I got the biggest controversies in this issue and especially the social part, the hazing. I wanted to hit all that. The controversies transcended sports. Then I wanted to make sure also that I did hammer him. I didn’t say, "Hey, are you a racist?" No, I said, "How do you expect me or anyone else to believe you are not?"
How was the setting [the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in L.A.] for the interview determined?
FOX set it up. I said I got the interview and the producers [Joel Santos and Bill Richards] set it up, which is normal. I saw some people said that it took place at his agent’s house or my house. Shoot, I wish that was my house. Are you kidding me? I wasn’t confident I absolutely had this interview until Saturday. I’m telling you, so much went into this. What I said to him was the court of public opinion closes on Monday. You want to testify or not? I’d want to. But come Monday, Richie, nobody is going to care what you have to say. It will be too late. This is what I would do. And I relayed a story that Ronde Barber told me. He said, I wish my brother [Tiki] had spoken up when he was getting crushed. I wish he defended himself in public. Because he didn’t, it was hard for me and the rest of my family to defend him as much as we wanted. I relayed that story to [Richie]. Whether you believe Richie or not, I want to hear from Richie Incognito. I want to hear from Jonathan Martin. Those are the only two guys who really know the story. Nobody else knows the story. I don’t care who has jumped in with opinions and that’s the problem with this whole thing. I broke this on FOX Football Daily originally, and I started hearing immediately from Jonathan’s people, from other players in that locker room, from people inside the Dolphins, from ex-Dolphins. I started getting all sides, but I did not want to jump out because I want to make sure I report facts. This story became so hot that anything you got, people put out there and it got taken to an extreme. It got lost in the fact that maybe this story is somewhere in the middle or maybe there are three sides. People got on this so fast and I see why because you are dealing with the n-word, you are dealing with bullying—it is hard not to get angry about it. I don’t blame people.
How was Incognito’s mood before the interview?
I tried to loosen him up a little bit. When he walked in he was nervous and stiff. I am used to being around him when he is not like that. He was really stiff and nervous and I would say kind of sullen. His head was down. You know me and my mouth. I said, "Man, with all that paparazzi [greeting him at the airport] you are like the Lindsay Lohan of football now." He kind of looked at me like, Yeah, great, thanks.
You told the audience at the top of the interview that you have a relationship with Richie and had your people train him a couple of years ago as part of your work as a mixed martial arts trainer. Why were you the right person for this interview?
Because that is what I do. This is what I have done for how long? I get scoops. I get exclusives. This is what I do for a living, and I think I do it well. I think this is why FOX pays me. My job is to get scoops and exclusives, and I think I have done it as well as anybody. So it [relationships] has obviously not gotten in the way. I have come out with negative stories. I have come out with positive stories. I have come out with stuff where my own guys get really angry at me. The funny thing is, I am working with Brian Urlacher now (on FOX Sports 1). He got really pissed off with me with three years left in his career because I reported something about a back injury he had that he did not want out there. He never told me another piece of information ever again. People don’t know about that. I had to tell people he was not playing and was not himself. He didn’t say Don’t go with it. He just said I am not talking about it. But I had it. He was one of my closest friends in the league and his last three or four years I never got a piece of information from him. He was pissed about it.
It does not get in the way of what I do. People are like, Oh, my God, Jay has a relationship with Richie. I have a relationship with, like, 900 people in this league. That is my job. Adam Schefter, Peter King—you don’t think Peter King has relationships with people in this league? We all have relationships. That is what we do. We are in the relationship business. But nobody talks about that, and I have talked about it. People keep bringing it up with me when nobody brings it up with everybody else who has written books [with subjects].
You have always been public about these relationships, that's fair…
Wait, let me tell you this too. Richie Incognito never, ever paid me a dime. The guy I set him up with was a fighter named Tyron Woodley, who by the way is an African-American UFC fighter. He is fighting this weekend. That is who I paired with Richie. Richie paid him. I never got a dime.
So let’s be specific here. You would say that training NFL players in MMA is not on face an economic partnership?
No, because I didn’t get paid. How is it an economic partnership? There are no economics involved. There is no money. How is it an economic partnership? He [Incognito] pays his trainer, this guy Tyron Woodley. I do not make a dime and never have. He does not pay me anything. Some guys get charged. Some guys don’t. The money goes to the fighters and the equipment. None of it goes to me. ... These guys come out to train, and I have a great training program. I make either the players pay the fighters directly or if they pay MMA Athletics, I pay the fighters directly or I will use it for travel for the fighters or the equipment. But no, I have never, ever, ever made a dime off this. I have probably lost money. I do it because I love it. I don’t do it to make money. I do it because I try to promote this sport. … I have always been involved with it. I love mixed martial arts. I love it. It is my passion. It is what I love to do. Some people like to play chess or checkers to blow off steam. I like to fight. I like martial arts.
Why in your opinion were the allegations regarding Incognito allegedly harassing a woman volunteer on a golf course last year not a line of questioning worthy of pursuit?
No, it is a line of questioning worthy of pursuit. You have that wrong. I just was not doing it for this particular piece. I think it is a separate story. I pushed him on it, and he said, “Gag order. Can’t talk. Gag order.” I said, "Well, obviously, something happened," and he kind of shrugged.
Well, we didn’t see that on Fox NFL Sunday?
This wasn’t during this interview. This was when that [allegation] first came out. I think it is worth pursuing, but the reason I don't think it fit this story is two-fold: One, this story is about Richie and Jonathan Martin and hazing and bullying and all that. Two, by him being an idiot a year and a half ago, it doesn’t help reaffirm something that we already know. We already know he is a meathead. By him having another meathead situation, it doesn’t make him more of a meathead. We already think he’s a meathead. I think if the thing happened last week, I’d say, "Dude, you have not learned your lesson." It happened a year and half ago, and there is no denying over the last how many ever years that he has done a bunch of knucklehead things. I just think it was a separate thing. What does it add? That he is a knucklehead?
Let me play devil’s advocate. If you ask him about that, does it not speak to Incognito’s character and is this story not about the character of both of these guys?
Yeah, but that is what I am saying: We already know about his character. We don’t have to single this out. We already know what his character is. I talked to him about this. His character issues go way beyond that. Let me tell you something: The voice mail shows character. It’s just another one of many. Why single that one out when they are so many others. It happened a year and a half ago.
Are there questions you wish you asked Incognito that you did not?
No. I think I got him on everything. Here’s the thing: All I can ask you is that you look at my body of work. I have said this to people in the past: Hey, if you want to question something, look at my work, look at what I break, look at the exclusives and scoops that I get. Did I hold back on any of my line of questioning? I don’t think I did at all. I never gave him an out. I was like, ‘Hey, how are we not to believe you are a racist?’ I didn’t act like a friend of his at all. By accusing him of being America’s bully, that's not being a friend. I said ‘You say you are a good guy, how does anyone in America believe that?’ That’s not being a friend. That is being an interviewer and a journalist.
The one way to get this thing to end would be a Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin interview where they hug, kiss, hold hands and they walk out together.
Was there any thought to running this on Saturday night on Fox Sports 1 as opposed to waiting for Sunday?
We got done way too late. I give the producers here a ton of credit. When we left it was dark out and we had to turn it around in 12 hours. I know people say it was choppy; we had 12 hours to get the thing done. I don’t think people realize this: If [the interview] was done on Tuesday for Sunday, it would have been put together totally different. I think our producers did an amazing job. Joel Santos was the producer and he did not sleep. Bill Richards [the executive producer of Fox NFL Sunday and Fox Football Daily] did not sleep. I didn’t sleep. These guys were up all night long. We had 12 hours. When people do a sit-down like this, whoever it is, you do the sit-down and then they [producers] have days or weeks to put together. These guys had 12 hours to do it and you will never win because everyone thinks they could have done a better job or everyone thinks the questions could have been asked in a better way. Also, everybody who does not get the answer they want, they are critical, too. But my producers, honestly, I don’t how they did it.
Are you actively trying to get Jonathan Martin?
I was very actively trying to get Jonathan Martin before this—absolutely, extremely hard—and talking to his people. Quite frankly, and I told his attorney David Cornwell this, the one way to get this thing to end would be a Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin interview where they hug, kiss, hold hands and they walk out together. In my opinion, that is the only way both could go back in the locker room. I was trying to help make that happen and I was trying to get both guys in the interview. That’s what I was actually working for.
I think it very clear to those who have watched this unfold that ESPN has been sourced well in the Martin camp. That’s my take. Do you expect ESPN to land Martin as an interview?
I hope not. They [Martin’s camp] were kind of leading me on that it might happen with me [both guys together], but after Richie’s interview it was all out the window. I was hopeful I would get it because that is my job. I was hopeful.
How comfortable are you with the amount of pressing or follow-ups that you did with Incognito on his use of the n-word either in the locker room or outside the locker room, because obviously that word is something crosses well beyond sports?
I hate that word. I think people wanted me to do is press him until he admitted he was a racist. It’s like people wanted me to ask him 10 times. I asked him a few times and I kept going back to different things. I think I used the term racist with him—I don’t know how many times during the interview but several times. There were two questions directly about it and I mentioned it elsewhere. … I think I would be really upset as a viewer if I said, “Hey, Richie, you are not a racist, right?" The right way was asking, "How does anyone believe you are not a racist?" As I said my personal thing is the word should be totally taken out of society but this interview is not about me. It doesn’t matter what my thought is on it. It matters whether or not this guy is a racist and what America thinks on it.
You have done thousands of interviews, and what is often most interesting is the moment the camera gets turned off. You can get a sense of the subject in a unique way. How much time did you spend with Incognito afterward and how would you evaluate his mood?
A minute, and I don’t think he was happy.
Interesting. Why do you say that?
Because he said, “Man, I’m not too happy." We literally finished the interview and Bill Richards said, "Okay, we have to go." I spent about a minute there. and I think his head was spinning, and I don’t think he knew if he was coming or going anymore. It was almost like, I'm glad I spoke but I don’t even know where the hell I am. I think he was nervous with how he represented himself.
Have you heard from him since the interview aired?
I did, yeah.
Can you share that conversation?
I asked him about the golf story again and he said, “I told you. Gag order. Why do you keep asking me?" I did ask him what he thought of the interview and I think his head is still spinning. …The bottom line is this is my job, exclusives and scoops. And I got it. And now I’m trying to get the next one.