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Jawing with Strahan, Nearly Fighting Keyshawn, and Battling ESPN for NFL Scoops: an Interview with Jay Glazer of Fox Sports

Anyone who enjoys the NFL will be familiar with today’s interview subject: Mr. Scoop, Fox’s Jay Glazer. In the heated battle for breaking NFL news, Glazer has no peer. We got him talking about his battle with ESPN’s dynamic duo of Clayton and Mort, his MMA background (even coaxed a photo out of him), acting with Adam Sandler, nearly fighting Keyshawn Johnson, and nearly getting into it with Michael Strahan, the Giants defensive end whom he ended up writing a book with.

Q: You’ve just be honored by SI as the media reporter of the year. How’d you celebrate?

I was honored, but to be honest with you, I didn’t celebrate other than to get on my cell phone and try to get more scoopage. I’m on that thing waaaaaay too much. When I retire, the closest thing I’ll have to a phone is two cans and a string.

Q: When the NFL tried to prevent you from showing the Levi Jones-Joey Porter fight footage, how did they go about doing so? Did you get a direct call from the commish?

First the Dolphins called me and then my bosses to try to prevent us from showing it. Then, about an hour before the show, the league office called my bosses and again tried to prevent us from running it. To my bosses’ credit, they never waivered. Never even came close to asking me to pull it. Journalistically, they have backed me up with every single story I wanted to do this year as well as the stories I decided to take a pass on. There were a few I at first wanted to go with but after doing some internal debate, I told my producer Scott Ackerson I wasn’t comfortable with it and he couldn’t be more supportive. Journalistically, to have a guy like Scotty, whose pretty much seen it all in this business, to bounce things off of is huge.

At the same time he pushes me when I need it. My first spot on The OT On FOX (our postgame show) this year I had from a hospital official in Buffalo that Kevin Everett had been taken in for emergency surgery on his cervical spine. With all the info and the sensitivity of the story, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to go with it. Scotty sat with me, laid it out and had me break it in the right way, a sensitive way. I’m glad we did because the nation was waiting for any news on such a heartbreaking story.

Q: It was quite a shock that you reported Bill Parcells’ flirtation with Atlanta (which turned out to be a cunning ruse) before ESPN did … especially since he was employed by the WWL. Are you surprised that when Parcells took the ESPN job, the network didn’t sit him down and say, ‘we know teams are going to recruit you … can you just come to us with the info as it’s happening … as a source? Doesn’t that seem like the logical move?

Sure. I don’t think it’s fair to Mort to be honest with you. Considering how it went down the last time before he left for Dallas, — our pregame show at CBS reported the story minutes after Parcells and ESPN got off the air — that was tough for Mort. He and I kind of battled it out who had this latest foray first, whether or not he had it two minutes before me or I had it two minutes before him is pretty stupid. Bill should have made sure they had it eight hours before me or anyone else.

Q: What is your relationship with Mort and Clayton? It’s kind of a two-against-one between you and the guys from ESPN, but what’s it like when you guys see each other? Cordial? Hostile? Do you think they’re checking Fox to see what you’re reporting, or do you think they have underlings doing that?

Actually, we’ve got a great relationship. When I had the Patriots tape Mort sent me a text, “Good job A-hole!” It was classic. We all have our little battles about who had what and when but overall, we’re all cool with each other. We’re all going to get our scoops over time and we’re all going to get beat. Nobody gets them all.

Q: Are there any NFL front offices that are impossible to crack? Ones that despise the media and never want to play ball?

No. Everybody in this league talks to somebody. It may not be me but everyone talks to somebody.

Q: Most folks think of NFL as a 7/8 month sport – July-January and then the combine and draft. Are those other four months time off for you, or are you working the phones year ’round?

My phone never gets turned off. Some of my biggest leads have come at 3 or 4 in the morning. In the off-season is when I shift gears more toward mixed martial arts though. I try to train with the team I’m with every day. My bosses at FOX have told me I can’t fight and can’t come on TV looking busted up. I don’t agree with it because I’m clearly not on TV for my looks but obviously I feel like remaining employed.

So in the off-season is when I get to bang because nobody sees me. If my nose gets broken in May or I get cut nobody sees it, so who cares? My biggest problem is my teeth. Damn training partners keep knocking the chicklits out. Maybe if I wasn’t such a hard-headed idiot I’d finally learn to keep my hands up.

It sounds odd to those who don’t understand that world but for me it’s my haven away from the pressures of real life. It’s my demented version of unwinding after a long NFL season.

But as far as my NFL calls in the off-season, even during training I have my cell phone on. It’s pretty funny, we’ll be rolling or sparring in the cage and all the sudden I’ll hear my cell and I’ll tap so I can run to answer it. At first the guys I trained with just shook their heads but now they laugh about it and will usually scream profanities and other sophomoric things to get me to hurry the call so we can finish the round. I’ve actually been trying to merge the two worlds. Last year I brought three or four NFL guys to train at our fight school and the guy who committed most, Jared Allen of the Chiefs, dropped 20 pounds and made his first Pro Bowl.

Our school is terrific though because they can give a rat’s you-know-what that I’m on TV. It’s a great escape.

Q: With your fighting background, we have to ask … have you ever had to use it to defend yourself? With football players or otherwise? And perhaps more importantly, are your fists registered as lethal weapons?

Hahaha. That lethal weapon registration thing is an old wives tale. Plus, trust me, there are some black belts you could hit harder than. Honestly, if I get in a fight anywhere outside of a ring or a cage or a mat, I have to be the dumbest SOB on the planet.

Earlier in my career when I didn’t have as much to lose I was a lot more willing to let it all hang out. But now, thank goodness I’ve grown up. The guys I train with are absolute beasts. Some of the toughest dudes you’ll ever come across. We’ve got a great fight team out in AZ, guys who’ve fought all over the world. One of my primary training partners, Jamie Varner, is fighting for a title next month. Another guy, Tim McKenzie, was recently offered a title shot and two others, Ryan Bader and CB Dalloway are on their way to stardom and are vicious. Jesse Forbes who was on the Ultimate Fighter I bang with quite a bit. I stink compared to these cats. Stink! After I get my butt whipped by them every day, trust me you have no desire to bother with anybody outside.

As for your question about players, moreso early in my career. Keyshawn Johnson and I was almost a good one and now he and I are very tight because of it. Actually, he challenged me to meet him out in the Giants Stadium parking lot about 12 years ago. I told him he couldn’t win this fight. I said, “If you whip my butt, who gives a damn. But when I whip your butt, I’m booking Letterman, I’m going on Leno. I’m going EVERYWHERE with the story! You won’t be able to deal with that humiliation. I can care less if I lose but you can’t afford to lose.” He told me I have problems in the head and walked away.

Shoot, my closest friend in the biz is Michael Strahan and we’ve gotten close to letting them fly many times. Actually, I can’t believe we’ve never actually gone at it. We fight about everything and sometimes it goes too far. But for the most part, I’m a player’s guy. I get along great with the players in this league. We have an awesome relationship.

Q: What’s the best locker room rant – directed at you, or otherwise – that you’ve witnessed? Any legendary ones that are whispered about that you cannot confirm or deny?

Me and Strahan got into it very bad years ago. Jessie Armstead and a couple other guys jumped in to make sure we didn’t start swinging. But again, that’s normal, everyday life for him and I. But the entire locker room went dead silent. The guy who paved the way for me and every other football reporter on TV Will McDonough whipped one of the Patriots back in the day. That man will forever be a legend.

Q: Ever get noticed on the subway? What is the usual reaction?

Yeah, that happens. But what happens more often than not is somebody will stare at me and think, “Where do I know this dude from? School? Work?” I look more like some guy you grew up with or a guy you saw at the end of the bar more than a talking head so people try to figure out where we met. They stare and stare and stare trying to figure out what bar we must have hung out in in college together.

Q: You were in The Longest Yard with Adam Sandler. Highlight of filming?

The trailer they gave each of us. Unbelievable. I can see why those Hollywood folks hook up in those things. Heck, Peter King kept trying to get frisky with me in mine but I’m not that kind of guy. In all seriousness, each of us got our own trailer with kitchen, bathroom, bed, beautiful leather couches, entertainment center. I wanted to move in. Also, Sandler and the producer Jack Giarraputo were as regular guys as you’ll ever meet. We would do our scenes and Sandler would laugh the whole time because basically we all looked like morons pretending to watch a game from some makeshift press box on a tiny little stage. Complete morons.

Q: With your emergence as a sideline reporter who actually brings news to the table (and to an extent, Jim Gray), do you see a time when the networks will give up on putting attractive women on the sidelines?

No because the women on the sideline now, while attractive, aren’t on for their looks. You look at reporters like Pam Oliver, Andrea Kremer, Michelle Tafoya, Laura Okmin and they are as hard-hitting journalists as there are in not just this game but any sport. I’m just glad I’m off the sidelines and in the studio now. I loved being at the games but the studio feels like home to me.

QUICK HITTERS
Name in your cell phone that would impress the ladies most. Shoot, that’s a good question. I don’t really know the answer to that though. I’m so protective of my phone I don’t let it out of my hands.
Early, knee-jerk thoughts on whether Bill Parcells keeps Miami’s No. 1 pick or trades it. Way too early to tell. We’ve got to see what they do in free agency and who emerges as the sure-fire No. 1 pick. Way too early.
Alex Smith: Bum or savior? There is no in-between. I think he makes it somewhere. I still believe he has tools but just needs one solid coach for years and years to let him progress the right way.

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