The Secret of Interviewing Sports Figures

Later this week we will be releasing an article titled “Things You Never Knew about the Athletes you Love”. senior writer Pam Modarelli-Hegner has been crafting this gem with two primary purposes, A: to break down the five personality types you encounter working in sports and B: provide tips and advice on how to deal with each.

Sports Reporter Bryan Salmond Interviewing Floyd Mayweather

The Five Personality Types of Athletes:

  • The Emotional Wreck
  • The Canned Answer Man
  • The Hothead or Loose Cannon
  • The Rock Star
  • The Volatile Superstar

What makes this article unique is that Modarelli-Hegner interviewed numerous members of the sports media who were willing (and often wanting) to name names.

They didn’t just say “This one QB I dealt with was a real jerk”, they told us who is great to deal with and who is awful.

All the interview subjects took it one step further, providing insight into what they’ve learned over the years on how to approach and deal with each personality. This is information that will give you a leg up in your career, or just make for fun water cooler conversation.

Modarelli-Hegner received so much great feedback we couldn’t use it all (despite it being Grantland-esque in length.) Here are a few stories that didn’t make the cut:

Steve Berthiaume, ESPN Baseball Tonight Host & SportsCenter Anchor:

“In the Yankees spring training clubhouse a few years ago I asked Mike Mussina if he had time for a few questions. Standing in the center of the locker room, he screamed at the top of his lungs, “Why, why, why…” while throwing both his arms directly over his head as he walked away and out the door. Was it something I said?”

Astros Pitcher Brett Myers fits the "Hothead" Category (Photo Courtesy: Bleacher Report)

Chris Duncan, Associated Press Sports Writer:

“Astros pitcher Brett Myers is a flat-out jack-ass…He tears into teammates to their faces, and always needs things done a particular way… Some guys will joke when they walk up and see media around their locker…”Get away from my locker!” He’ll walk up and say, “Get the F**k away from my locker,” and mean it.”

Talk to him after a loss at your own peril. “I don’t know. What do you want me to say? I threw the pitch and he f**king hit it out of the park. I mean, I don’t know what else you want me to say”. Paraphrasing, but typical…He’s just a gruff, mean person…Highly competitive, but doesn’t seem to derive any joy from what he’s doing for whatever reason”.

Pedro Martinez (left) and "Volatile Superstar" Nomar Garciaparra (right) (Photo Courtesy: National

Paul Crane, veteran sportscaster for over 30 years at the national and local level:

“My a-hole list includes Don Shula, who was a prick every time. Nomar Garciaparra is another. We had set up a 1-on-1 with him when the Red Sox came to Atlanta for 2 preseason games after breaking spring training and before the start of the season”

FSN wanted this because he played at Georgia Tech, they were televising several Yellow Jacket games and I was doing a series of lengthy 1-on-1′s with several athletes/coaches. So, we set it all up for before the first of the two games, on the field before BP (which is where the Red Sox asked we do it). Their PR guy met us there, said Nomar was in the locker room ready when we were, watched us set up for 45 min and once we were ready he went back to get Nomar.”

The PR guy returned, said he’d be out… 90 minutes went by with no Nomar. I kept asking the guy to get him, kept saying I’ll go back to the locker room to get him (the guy asked me NOT to do that) and when Nomar finally came out I went right to him in the dugout to introduce myself, let him know where we were, etc.. and he said he didn’t feel like it today, maybe tomorrow.“

I told him we wouldn’t be back tomorrow, that we had been there for over two hours for this interview and he screamed at me, literally yelled at me that he had to get ready for a game! I told him fine, no one would miss this and I get paid the same whether we did it or not and we left. That doesn’t help on how you deal with someone like that, but it’s just an example of doing the best you can and standing your ground (I think).”

Without question Greg Maddux fits into the "Volatile Superstar" category. (Photo Courtesy: AP Images)

Crane: “The other guy on that list is Greg Maddux. He was an a-hole every time. I would approach him and get a “no” 90% of the time and then when he did agree to speak he often was so bad he was trying to make sure you’d never ask him again.”

Sometimes I got sound, sometimes I didn’t, but I always asked, even if I knew it would go badly. The last time I ever asked him for something was when Tom Glavine returned for the first time as a member of the Mets, I thought that feature needed a comment from Maddux. I went up to him in the dugout during BP, he saw me coming and started smiling. I told him I was doing a story on Glavine’s return and asked him if he’d give me a quick comment. He said no. I asked, “Not even for Glavine?” and he just smiled, shook his head no and walked away. I’ve always had the approach, it’s a free country. If they don’t want to do it, they don’t have to.”

These are the stories that didn’t make the final cut.

The full-feature will have more unique stories and a breakdown of how to approach sports figures and get results…at least some of the time.

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Article by Brian Clapp

Authors bio is coming up shortly. Brian Clapp tagged this post with: , , , Read 112 articles by
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