Jay Glazer says his mental health issues date back to his childhood.
Jay Glazer was his usual animated self during a January 2 segment of his “The Inside Scoop” on Fox’s Sunday NFL broadcast, one moment discussing Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians’ Achilles injury, and in the next, analyzing how a right thumb ligament injury might impact 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s performance leading into the postseason.
“What you don’t know, and this kind of comes out of left field, is Bruce Arians, recently ruptured his Achilles tendon. He told me it’s about 50%. He’s been trying to hide it from everybody, including most of the people on the team,” Glazer said, speaking in his rapid-fire delivery, his body swiveling this way and that, like the cartoon Tasmanian devil.
The 52-year-old Glazer certainly leads a peripatetic schedule. During the NFL season, he’s a Fox regular — “My bread and butter,” Glazer says. And for five seasons, Glazer played himself on the hit HBO series, “Ballers,” opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Glazer is a mixed martial arts instructor and has trained scores of celebrities and professional athletes, and he also leads the charitable MVP (Merging Vets and Players) foundation, which he co-founded in 2015, and which unites military veterans with former professional athletes as they transition back to civilian life.
It’s a glittery professional resume, and a long way from Glazer’s early days, the New Jersey kid trying to break into the media world in the 1990s, a time period when Glazer says he was “broker than broke.”
But all these years later, even with all of his success, accolades and fame — not to mention the generous paychecks he earns — Glazer still struggles with depression and anxiety, afflictions that he says date back to his childhood. His beaming smile that viewers see on TV or his outgoing personality belie his daily battle within, where he constantly confronts “the gray.”
“I’ve got to kind of always be on the go,” Glazer said in a recent interview from his Arizona home. “When I’m left with my own thoughts, the roommates in my head do not talk nicely to each other. People think, ‘Oh, you’re on TV, you’re rich and famous. Your life is great.’ Well, my wallet is not an antidepressant.
“I know my life is great. But what goes on between my ears is not great,” added Glazer.
Even Glazer’s famous friends, which include NFL Hall of Famer Michael Strahan, did not know about Glazer’s personal anguish for years. Glazer finally decided to tell his story and go public with his decades-long personal ordeal, with the hope that he can help others. But unlike the conventional wisdom that people may find it therapeutic to let the public in on their personal anguish, Glazer said writing his book, “Unbreakable (Dey St.),” was “painful as sh—.”
“It’s painful for me to look at how much pain I’m in on paper,” said Glazer. “I feel sorry for that kid who wrote that. I still look at myself as this little kid who’s not worthy of being loved. For me, I don’t feel worthy of good things happening to me. That’s a pretty bad cell to be locked in.”
Glazer agrees that society, particularly the sports culture, is more more accepting of individuals who come forward with mental health struggles. And Glazer was buoyed to explore writing a book after other bold-face sports names have openly discussed their own painful journeys, like tennis player Naomi Osaka, NBA player Kevin Love and NFL quarterback Dak Prescott, to name a few.
Glazer came up with his own expression for his personal struggles — “fighting the gray.”
“The reason I did this, writing this book, is to be a voice to fight the gray,” said Glazer. “I’m not a therapist, I’m not clergy, and I’m not your teacher. I’m just a dude who lives in the gray. But I have a big platform and a big voice. If I don’t use this platform that God has blessed me with, then, what am I doing? Why?
“I found my ‘why.’”
The book, however, is only one tool Glazer says can be used toward conquering his own personal demons, and he hopes, helping others conquer theirs.
“I don’t know what it’s like to not live in the gray. It’s an everyday thing and it f—ing sucks. It’s literally every morning that I’ve got to convince myself that the world’s not crashing down around me, that the sky isn’t falling,” said Glazer. “Whatever level you have, you want people to understand it better. We all need to be a team. Be a team that can all lean on each other, lift each other up. I think this is a prescriptive book on how to get through the gray. How to build different teams.
“With a whole bunch of teammates, we can walk this walk together.”