Veteran NFL reporter Jay Glazer was in sunny Southern California on Tuesday having a few afternoon beers with a Navy SEAL buddy when his phone buzzed. Momentum was building for a trade of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
By that night, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the deal was done. Beckham was headed to the Browns, which left the city of Cleveland in a state of ecstasy. Glazer was rather pleased, too.
“I mean, yeah, it was a pretty fun day,” Glazer said in a phone interview.
Last month, Glazer, a longtime NFL insider for Fox Sports, dropped a prediction into an NFL mailbag column he wrote for the Athletic.
“Jay, give us some bold predictions about the NFL offseason,” reader Robert P. asked.
“I predict Odell Beckham Jr. gets traded this offseason. I think that’s bold enough,” Glazer answered.
During the NFL offseason, there are thousands of predictions bandied about by reporters and personalities both well connected and not so well connected. But this one — about one of the league’s biggest stars playing in the league’s biggest media market — struck a nerve. The reaction was unlike anything Glazer had experienced.
Giants fans bombarded him on Twitter; they found family photos on Instagram; they called him fat; they called him short; they insulted his mother; they insulted his kid.
All of which led Glazer to drop the following colorful tweet: “For all you f — sticks who spewed s--- at me, my kid, my mom, my mom’s kid, my kid’s mom, my head size, body size, intelligence, my mom’s intelligence all because I made a prediction about your team today save your ridiculous f----- insults for s--- that matters in life.”
(He didn’t use dashes.)
“It’s never happened like that before,” Glazer said. “I honestly can’t explain why, but Giants fans went crazy. I broke the news years ago that the Jets wanted to trade Keyshawn Johnson. That came out of nowhere, too. But I never got killed like this. It was really like, whoa."
He added, “People ask me if I was really mad, and the answer is of course not. I’m a New Yorker; that’s how I talk!”
(A Fox Sports executive jokingly asked Glazer whether he had to use such colorful language; Glazer said he, in fact, did. “It would have lost its luster,” he said.)
And so after the Beckham trade became official, Glazer was as delighted as any Browns fans. The calls and texts came rolling in from around the league, from coaches and general managers. Fellow reporters paid tribute, too. “I am again reminded why Jay is the best insider in the business,” Michael Strahan wrote. “Kudos,” NBC’s Peter King wrote. “That is why he is the best in the business,” former NFL officiating czar Dean Blandino wrote. “Always believe @JayGlazer more than you believe an NFL team,” Yahoo’s Charles Robinson wrote. “Whenever Jay says something, you have to just about take it to the bank,” wrote ESPN’s Mike Sando, quoting an NFL agent.
“The Rich Eisen Show” tweeted out its own congratulations.
Glazer, too, spent the day flexing, retweeting all manner of praise.
“How could you not have fun with it?” he said. “I don’t take myself seriously, and anybody who does in this business is a moron. We’re not doctors or teachers or policemen and soldiers.”
Glazer is a veteran of the NFL rumor mill wars. A New York native, he wrote for the New York Post in the 1990s when a scoop didn’t land until it was published in the newspaper the next day. He pointed to 1999 as the year everything changed. Glazer moved to CBSsportsline.com and started writing on the Internet, when nuggets of information could be reported instantly. Back then, he used to go toe-to-toe with John Clayton, Chris Mortensen and Len Pasquarelli, all of whom worked for ESPN.
“We invented the minute-by-minute reporting,” Glazer said.
Over the years, Glazer has relished mixing it up with ESPN, wondering out loud at times why the network has been shy to give him credit on scoops. (“My last name isn’t spelled sources,” he once tweeted.) And there have been many scoops, from Brett Favre going to the New York Jets to the Spygate tapes.
Whether Glazer is still journalist in the traditional sense or something else — he trains NFL players in the offseason at his mixed martial arts gym and is a guest star on the HBO series “Ballers” — is its own question. But asked how the scoop industry has changed through the years, Glazer said the sheer number of reporters now chasing after nuggets is staggering. The competition to be first has led to a tricky offseason for NFL reporters. The saga involving Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown, who was eventually traded to the Oakland Raiders, was marred by erroneous reports.
“I’m not going to talk about competitors, but the pressure to be first is real,” Glazer said. “I always tell anyone breaking into this business, just make sure you’re right before you’re first.”
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