One of the early and obvious questions from Derek Jeter’s postgame press conference on Sunday: What’s the first thing you’re going to do now that you’re free to do whatever you want?
“I don’t know,” Jeter said. “That’s a good thing. I’ll take some time off, I’ll rest and relax just like I’ve done every season when the season is over with. I don’t know if I’ll necessarily realize it or anything will be different until about three or four weeks from now when I would normally start working out. At this point, I’m on vacation. Get away from it for a while.”
Vacation lasted, what, two days?
This morning, Jeter announced that he’s going into the newspaper business. Sort of. Jeter is starting an online publication called The Players’ Tribune, which seems to be basically an attempt to let players tell their own stories and offer their own perspectives without the filter of a reporter. I’m not entirely sure how it will work — how many players are going to write their own stories mid-season? — but it’s an interesting concept from a guy who’s clearly thought a lot about the impact of media.
“I realize I’ve been guarded,” Jeter said in a letter announcing the new publication. “I learned early on in New York, the toughest media environment in sports, that just because a reporter asks you a question doesn’t mean you have to answer. I attribute much of my success in New York to my ability to understand and avoid unnecessary distractions.
“I do think fans deserve more than ‘no comments’ or ‘I don’t knows.’ Those simple answers have always stemmed from a genuine concern that any statement, any opinion or detail, might be distorted. I have a unique perspective. Many of you saw me after that final home game, when the enormity of the moment hit me. I’m not a robot. Neither are the other athletes who at times might seem unapproachable. We all have emotions. We just need to be sure our thoughts will come across the way we intend.”
I don’t believe Jeter will leave himself set up to fail in one of his first post-retirement ventures. He carries enough weight to get nearly any athlete on board in some capacity. It’s going to be interesting to see this thing develop and to see where it goes and how it impacts my industry.
Here’s the full press release announcing the formation of The Players Tribune:
(New York, NY, October 1, 2014) Derek Jeter today announced the creation of The Players’ Tribune, an innovative multimedia digital company where world-class athletes will share their unfiltered, honest and unique perspectives, bringing fans closer to the games they love. Jeter is the company’s Founding Publisher.
The Players’ Tribune will provide fans with unprecedented access to top athletes across every sport. The platform gives athletes the tools to develop and create quality content ranging from first-person written features to videos, podcasts, photo galleries, polls and more, and will cover topics from sports commentary to lifestyle and popular culture. The Players’ Tribune will provide an authentic and holistic perspective from the athletes themselves. In the coming days and weeks, The Players’ Tribune will announce All-Star professional athlete contributors and will enlist more athletes to become part of this new platform.
“I do think fans deserve more than ‘no comments’ or ‘I don’t knows,’” said Jeter, in an original letter shared on The Players’ Tribune website this morning. “We want to have a way to connect directly with our fans, with no filter.”
Legendary Entertainment, a prominent producer of film, television and digital content joins Jeter and The Players’ Tribune as a partner providing creative support as well as capital. Legendary was founded and is run by Chairman and CEO Thomas Tull, an avid sports fan, who translated his love of baseball into the widely popular film 42, chronicling the heroic efforts of Jackie Robinson as he worked to break through baseball’s color barrier. Tull is also a Board Member of The Baseball Hall of Fame and part of the ownership group of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Legendary Entertainment is known for producing such blockbuster franchises as GODZILLA, PACIFIC RIM, INCEPTION, 300 and CLASH OF THE TITANS along with THE DARK KNIGHT and HANGOVER series of films. Legendary also operates the online destination Nerdist.com, a site designed to showcase all things for the fandom demographic, from news to original content. Legendary also produces content via its Legendary Digital banner.
“I have had the privilege of knowing Derek for a number of years,” said Tull. “His idea of providing athletes with a platform to communicate directly with their fans and the world at large is a forum that we are excited about.”
Gary Hoenig, former Editorial Director of ESPN Publishing and a founding editor of ESPN The Magazine, serves as Editorial Director of The Players’ Tribune and is shaping the team of editors who will help the athletes share their voice on a regular basis. Maureen Cavanagh, former Photography Director for Sports Illustrated, is the Creative Director and Sarah Turcotte, former Senior Writer/General Editor at ESPN The Magazine, is the Executive Editor. Alex Rose, a seasoned sports content strategist, is the company’s General Manager and Mark Grande is the Vice President, Content and Strategy.
“We have the chance to close the gulf between players and athletes and bring us all closer together,” said Hoenig. “It’s a great opportunity to change the playing field in a positive way.”
Associated Press photos