Derek Jeter, The Aspiring Media Mogul (Who Dislikes Media), Reveals Next Big Swing
"I don’t miss playing,” he says, as the press-shy former Yankee leads new website The Players’ Tribune, where David Ortiz and Tiger Woods break news (sorry ESPN) and his big-name backers are betting on a media home run.
BY MARISA GUTHRIE, SCOTT FEINBERG - read the full story here
On a warm Tuesday evening in mid-July, dozens of elite athletes pack a rectangular patch of faux grass turf on the roof of The Standard hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Among the partygoers: New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist; tennis star Caroline Wozniacki (in a white Grecian gown); race car driver Danica Patrick; tight end Julius Thomas (in a black fedora), who in March signed a $46 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars; 14-year-old Little League sensation Mo’ne Davis (with her mom, Lakeisha McLean); new Los Angeles Clipper Paul Pierce; and Alex Morgan, fresh from a World Cup victory. Though it’s an exclusive affair, the menu is curiously unhealthy (mini cheeseburgers, fried mac-and-cheese balls, bratwurst hunks on toothpicks). And snippets of overheard conversation reveal frustrations of the athlete’s life. Obstacles to romantic entanglements (“I tell her I’m going to crawl into bed with you at 3 a.m. and I’m out at 8 a.m.,” a football player relays to a bespectacled pal). The sometimes mundane nature of the job (“I want to tell the truth,” says an MLB veteran, “but how do I explain to a fan that I could give two shits about what’s happening in the third inning?”).
These are the kind of admissions that would never pass the lips of the party’s host — the tall, slim man in the bespoke Nigel Curtiss jacket nursing ice water from a plastic cup at the end of the bar — at least not in the open where a reporter might be near. In fact, Derek Jeter — the revered New York Yankees shortstop, a 14-time All Star who led his team to five World Series titles — spent 20 years playing baseball in the most intense media market in the country without revealing much of anything about his personal life, save for what could be gleaned from the occasional paparazzi photo.
“I always knew that my job was to limit distractions for my team and not cause headlines,” reasons Jeter, who retired after last season. “So I kept a lot of things to myself.”
But on this day, the man who perfected the polite shutdown is putting himself out there in an effort to convince more athletes to share their stories on his website, The Players’ Tribune (TPT). Launched in October, the site lets athletes speak in their own words — in written pieces, video interviews and podcasts — directly to fans, eliminating the interpretive agenda of the press pack. The site has become a source for first-person athlete accounts that increasingly are making news and driving headlines in a rapacious media environment: Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash announced his retirement in a letter; Red Sox slugger David Ortiz refuted widespread PED allegations in a revealing as-told-to account; Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders talked openly in a video interview about the anxiety disorder that caused him to bolt the NBA.