Zulgad: “The only guy who jumped the gun was Brett Favre”

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.

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37 Responses to “Zulgad: “The only guy who jumped the gun was Brett Favre””

  1. Ole says:

    Good job Adam. You got Judd to admit that favre is a liar

  2. CSlinde says:

    Way cool interview Adam! That’s some serious blogger cred!

  3. B. Grant says:

    Atta boy, Adam!! By the way, do you have Brett’s cell number?

  4. CSlinde says:

    Some thoughts-

    I get the whole ‘it’s my job’ thing. However, I don’t feel bad for Judd because he too is playing the game. He can claim he’s ‘only reporting what happened’ but, did what happened force him to create a suggestive headline? I read and respect Judd which leads me to think he has an IQ high enough to realize that people would read said headline alone and ‘freakout’.
    It IS his job and creating a healdine that has this effect, I’m sure, bodes well for his story and ‘hits’ or whatever system rates his stories, and ultimately his performance in the eyes of his employer.

  5. Cslinde says:

    Why coach? Want some pics sent to you?

    • B. Grant says:

      NO, Cs, I just had this crazy idea that if you wanted to know what someone was going to do, you would talk to him directly and then tell people what he said. I know it’s a pretty radical approach, but just thought it would be worth trying.

  6. c.carterhof says:

    Kinda like that story last year about Chilly being on a plane to Hattiesburg.

    Right Judd?

  7. Fragile Freds says:

    Freds thinks that Judds is an honest guy and does his best to report what he believes is the truth. His comment below really sums it up for Fred however:

    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.”

    For Judds it’s about driving “business”, for Farve it’s about more money and being stroked. That’s where it begins and ends for both of these guys.

    As the hardcopy newspaper business continue to die, reporters like Judds are put under great pressure to report the news NOW. The internet gives them the ability to report now and often times hours before they would like to and all facts have been checked with a sufficient amount of leg work being done. This doesn’t make Judds (or other reporters) a liar, but it calls in to question the validity of their stories (perhps putting this one aside). Yes, in some cases, they are liars.

    As Judds states, this fiasco was good for him, it drove more business, more readers know him. This makes his boss very happy. It was good for Farve, he get’s more money. As we progress with the world of instant communication, the question will continue to be who will have enough backbone to be honest. If we expect the athletes to be, we are kidding ourselves. They will use the reporters to drive public opinion so they can make more money. One would hope the reports would take the high road, but less of that is becoming important as well.

    I don’t think Zulgads was being dishonest, but being “out front” for old Judds sure didn’t hurt his name recognition or Twitter account did it?

  8. B. Grant says:

    Sorry, but count me among those who do not become interested in such speculative reporting. When I heard about the headline, I simply waited for it to either come out as truth or a borderline hoax. I understand the pressures, Freds, but there is also the responsiblity to abide by basic principles of truth and credibility. Hearing about someone else’s text message is nothing to be writing a headline or story about without a much greater degree of research. Scooping a story and starting/spreading a rumor are two very different things that appear to be separated by a very fine line these days.

  9. Fragile Freds says:

    Glad you understand the pressures Bud, because Fred doesn’t.

    As I said earlier and perhaps you are saying the same thing, the question will continue to be who will have enough backbone to be honest.

    You are more understanding than I am Buds.

    • B. Grant says:

      But you manage anger better, Freds. I want to take unreliable sources of news and set a Lindy rig in their lips, push them out of their deer stand and/or pour coffee all over their keyboard. (Sorry, I wouldn’t really do those things.)

  10. CSlinde says:

    This is a great thread! Absolutey the reason I love this site. Great, well informed readers who add good insight without the back and forth fighting and unintelligible input seen on other sites (cough, strib).

    With that said, I love reading and listening to JZ when he’s a guest on The Fan. I just can’t believe he wouldnt expect the the crazy things that went on after he put this story out there the way he did. He’s a big enough local name with many avenues to have his voice heard. One would think he could have wrote a good story still and report what his sources told him with keeping in mind what would probably happen as a result.

  11. Vikings UK says:

    Really great interview there Adam. I must say that I’m not always Judd’s biggest fan, and my post the other day vented a lot of anger in his direction, particulary in the way he reported a story which is hard for anyone other than him to verify, and one which consequently upset a lot of fans who he is meant to represent.
    I’m glad he answered your questions, but at the same time he still is being a little arrogant in his certainty on the story, and he fails to properly recognise why he should have held his horses in running with it.
    Freds, you are right that the media is changing with the internet and NOW news is all the rage, but I’ve also got to agree with Bud that Judd’s story walked a fine line between gossip and truth, and he failed to see how much his story would upset Vikings fans.
    Okay he now has more followers, but I certainly don’t agree with the way he went about it.

  12. […] Judd Zulgad in his own words. August 6, 2010 — Vikings UK Any of you who read my piece yesterday on what was, in my opinion, bad form on the part of Star Tribune writier, Judd Zulgad should check out this interview with the man himself on Vikings Gab. […]

  13. Fragile Freds says:

    UK,

    Please, never ever and Freds means EVER agree with Buds. This old guy gets an inflated ego soooo fast. The good news is that with his memory problems, he’ll probably forget the compliment anyway.

    Regarding your statement, “and one which consequently upset a lot of fans who he is meant to represent.”

    Freds suspects that Judds would say he represents the left wing rag Star Tribune, and in no way represents Vikings Fans.

    • Vikings UK says:

      Okay mate, I’ll bear that in mind 😉 Bud, don’t get too carried away, okay?
      Judd may not think he represents the fans, but as the main sports writer at a paper in the city of the team, he does whether he likes it or not… Thankfully being across the pond I have managed to avoid the political leaning of sed paper…

    • B. Grant says:

      UK, you should know that Freds agrees with me about most things, but he pretends not to and thinks I don’t know that he agrees with me. Now, even though I know he usually agrees with me, I let him think I don’t know that he does, so therefore he thinks he can tell you not to agree with me. Oh, and you should know that if someone chooses not to agree with me, then I simply point my new Droid X at them and, poof!, no more biologically generated children for that person.

      Now, you were saying…?

      And Freds, you are wrong. I can remember all three compliments I have gotten over my life time.

  14. bigjohnny84 says:

    I wish we knew exactly what the texts said then we could make up our own minds.

  15. Viking John says:

    Agree with Freds on who Jud’s represents. We found this out a long time ago on AV. He doesn’t like the Vikings, just a job to him.
    Go vikes

  16. Fran the Man says:

    Great questions for Zulgad, Adam.
    I wish you would have asked him when the REAL AV would be coming back tho. . .

    Hey Zulgad, when are you going to resurrect the REAL AV??
    (Not that any of here at the Gab would leave now that we have found the BEST Vikings blog on the ‘net)

  17. PJD says:

    Nice job on the interview, Adam. Judd, thanks for doing it.

    Soooo … did Adam ask Judd anything about the Premium Access? Because … there’s that whole thing …

  18. Tomb... says:

    If there are 4 pecks in a bushel, how many Scoggins are there in a Zulgad?

  19. starrc10 says:

    I hope this site never goes down. I need it to sort through all the babble and tell me what is really going on with well thought out and well informed blogs.

    Again, I appluad your efforts, Warwas.

    As for Fragile’s, Johnny, Fran, and the poignent though rarely read Coach Grant (and Tomb, possibly his alter ego) – You are about 15 to possibly 20 percent of the reason I come here as well.

    Go Vikings, Damnit!

    • Tomb... says:

      Alter ego?

      Awesome. While they may be a compliment to me, Coach may take offense and use that neuter app on his fancy new phone…I’d be careful if I were you.

    • starrc10 says:

      … alter ego; based on my recollection of your exactly opposite opinions on everything (outside the Vikings). Additionally you both seem to show up out of the blue, grace us with your presence, then sequester yourselves again. Almost always on the same posts.

      Please don’t neuter me. Please.

  20. Purple Charlie says:

    I have to agree with Starr, No babble here.

    And Freds, Johnny, Frans, Tombs, Coach and Others are the Bomb!!!

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