As Yankees fans, we all became very familiar with Derek Jeter‘s far from headline-grabbing relationship with the New York media. While his play on the field was usually awe-inspiring and highlight-worthy, his interviews tended to have as much excitement as your grandmother’s bridge game.
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During a Q&A on Wednesday night at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, the former captain explained that he was able to keep away from any media problems by purposely avoiding follow-up questions with responses of either “I don’t know” or “No comment.”
While I appreciated his discretion in front of the microphone for the sake of leadership and keeping his and his teammates’ names from any negative publicity, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find Jeter’s interviews to be the most boring part of the entire sports world. I don’t believe for one second that he was in reality just an incredibly uninteresting guy outside of the locker room, which is why I always wished the press were able to get more out of him.
We all watch sports because we find it entertaining. But that entertainment can be multi-dimensional, because there are so many characters that can produce quality programming on and off the field.
As much as we may not care for him, David Ortiz‘s ability to charm the media endears him to the fans and gives him national appeal based on his personality alone.
Look at what Peyton Manning has done off the football field. It seems like every big company out there wants him in their commercial because of how great he is in front of the camera. He’s even able to just hum a tune and sell insurance. His knack for television has surely guaranteed him a future in a broadcast booth on Sundays.
And a personal favorite of mine is boxer Adrien “The Problem” Broner. Not only is he an excellent fighter, but he’s a natural when it comes to being in front of a microphone. Go watch any of his post-fight interviews. Sure, he comes across as a cocky and arrogant jerk, but his on-camera presence is without a doubt a big draw for the sport. (Seriously, check out one his post-fight interviews with Jim Gray, and see how quickly Gray starts to feel sharp pains in his head)
I will always love Derek Jeter and what he represented not only as a Yankee legend but as a leader as well. He was the guy that set the example for others, and not once did he ever throw a fellow player under the bus. I admire that.
But over his 20 MLB seasons, there had to be at least a few times that he wanted to spout off to reporters in front of his locker. I would’ve liked to have heard his uncensored take on some of the issues that made their way through the Bronx during his tenure; specifically, his relationship with Alex Rodriguez. I was always one of those fans who was for whatever reason fascinated by the little rumors that swirled about their apparent falling out.
But just like every other uncomfortable question the media would offer, Derek didn’t swing. And while that may have been frustrating to my curiosity, I’ll always admire how he maintained the same composure and foresight that brought us “The Flip Play” in Oakland as he did in front of reporters.