Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Access Vikings set off a media blitz on Tuesday when he reported that Brett Favre was texting teammates and Vikings officials that he intended to retire once and for all.
The day was crazy, and before I was eating lunch that day, many of the pundits were reporting that Favre was retiring… not that Favre just texted some people that he was retiring.
A day later, the media and fanbase did another about-face, and it was determined that Brett Favre was not going to retire. Zulgad himself said that he was 99.9% sure that Favre was going to return to the Vikings for another season.
Then, Favre and agent Bus Cook used various outlets to put the message out there that he has not made a decision, and that he would play if his ankle were healthy. Of course, that happened after the Vikings reportedly offered him a substantial raise with the hope of coaxing him back.
So, the question on everyone’s mind was “what the hell happened here!?!” Ever since this happened, Zulgad has been under fire from readers commenting from behind their cloak of anonymity and also from Twitter users. People say that he messed this up. People say he made this up. Some have even gone so far as to say this whole thing was a media conspiracy to create some Brett Favre news when there was nothing else to report.
If you remember, Zulgad penned a very earnest article about a year ago this time which called out the Vikings for their handling of the Favre situation the first time around. I had trouble believing that somebody who was so fed up with the drama a year ago would be so apt as to purposely create more drama when none was necessary.
So, I decided to ask him some questions on the matter (and a few other matters) and he was kind enough to oblige. Judd is the best in the business when it comes to covering the Minnesota Vikings and, as always, I encourage you to check out Access Vikings by clicking here or to follow him on Twitter by clicking here.
Here is Judd’s account of how things happened the last few days:
Adam: Recently you reported that an unnamed source told you that Brett Favre was texting teammates that he was contemplating retirement. Was there more than one unnamed source? Anything more you can tell us about the source?
Judd: I really can’t get into any source issues because these people trust me based on the fact that I protect them. I can say that I am 100 percent sure every part of what I wrote about Favre was and is correct. Believe me, if I felt I made a mistake I’d admit it. Please don’t read this as being defensive, rather, I just want to convey how confident I feel about the reporting that has been done not only by myself but others, such as Jay Glazer of Fox Sports and Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press. I have no idea who Jay and Jon’s sources were but they were right on the money.
AW: That report sparked quite the uncontrollable wildfire of reports. It wasn’t long after your report that NFL Network and ESPN were basically telling audiences that Favre was retiring. Were you surprised how things played out?
JZ: Yes. My story — and others — made it clear Favre told teammates and team officials he was going to retire. However, in the next breath, I wrote that this did not mean Favre was retiring. In fact, I was sure he would change his mind and he did. That’s why I think that a lot of people didn’t really read the story. They either looked at the headline or just saw what they wanted to see without digesting the information.
AW: Who jumped the gun first? You or the National Media? Or the hack bloggers of the world (i.e. me)?
JZ: The only guy who jumped the gun was Brett Favre. He sent a message to people and then decided he didn’t mean it and wasn’t truthful when asked about it on Wednesday. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell people. The guy to look at in this case isn’t the media, it’s Brett Favre. And don’t say, “Well, you guys should just leave Favre alone until he makes up his mind.” That is not a realistic response and, in fact, we all should be fired if we simply just wait for Favre to say what he wants to do.
AW: I noticed people shooting you quite a bit of venom via Twitter about the whole thing, even though Visanthe Shiancoe confirmed your report. Do you think its fair criticism you’ve been receiving?
JZ: I don’t know. It doesn’t bother me because I know I’m right. People are passionate about Favre. That’s good. The man helps sell newspapers and drive Internet traffic. At the end of the day, I’m a sportwriter. It’s a great job and I love it but I’m not saving lives or fighting fires or keeping people safe. If people want to get upset with me because they don’t like what I’ve written about Favre that’s OK. The only thing I tried to explain to them is that just because Favre said something that doesn’t mean he was telling the truth.
AW: Shortly after the report, you said that you are 99.9% sure that Favre will return. Many people viewed that as you turning a complete 180 in the matter of a day. Was that the case, or were you 99.9% sure prior to the “text” reports?
JZ: Never changed my mind. I reported on what is a very fluid story and what obviously was an emotional decision by Favre. We all know Favre changes his mind frequently and that’s being kind. That’s why I wrote that he told teammates he was going to retire and then quickly added that didn’t mean he was retiring. I never changed my opinion; I just wrote what was happening. I still think he comes back.
AW: Anything else you would like people to know about what happened in the last 72 hours of Favre-a-palooza?
JZ: Yes, I added a ton of Twitter followers and I think many of them don’t even like me. Nonetheless, I appreciate their business.
AW: How’s training camp going for you?
JZ: Great. Long days but once again I have a great job and would NEVER complain about it.
AW: Got any opinions on the position battles that might surprise a few people?
JZ: I think Jamarca Sanford is going to push Tyrell Johnson for the starting strong safety job in a big way. Also think Asher Allen could find his way into the nickel role this season and earn some playing time. Finally, the fact Adrian Peterson has been sitting out because of tightness in his leg appears to be a good thing for Albert Young and Toby Gerhart. Both are getting plenty of reps.
AW: You recently said that reporting on Deadspin.com’s allegations against Brett Favre was not your job. Why is that and do you think mainstream media outlets will shy away from that one?
JZ: I don’t know what’s going to happen with this story. Let me correct myself on one thing. If my editor at the Star Tribune tells me to cover it, then I will cover it. It’s not my job to tell them what I will or won’t do. However, a story that breaks on Deadspin isn’t something that we would run with until we report it out and confirm it. And in any situation like that it has to be considered on a case-by-case basis. Believe me, I have my hands full right now just covering Favre as a football player.
AW: Again, thanks for clarifying for us what happened in the last few days. We appreciate your coverage of the Vikings and hope you can stay cool enough down there in Mankato. Don’t be a stranger to Vikings Gab!
JZ: Thanks. I really enjoy your web site and check it out on a frequent basis. Keep up the good work and I appreciate you giving me a chance to answer your questions.