OK, so maybe Jeter won't be waking up every morning to create GIFs and quip on that day's news. But it does look like he has an eye on becoming the Arianna Huffington of athlete-produced content with "The Players' Tribune," a website Jeter believes will become a direct line from athletes to fans.
Jeter announced the creation of the website with a letter on the site Wednesday morning and is listed as "the founding publisher."
Jeter, who has listed publishing as a post-career interest for awhile now and owns his own book imprint, says his goal is "to ultimately transform how athletes and newsmakers share information, bringing fans closer than ever to the games they love."
And just so we get the irony out of the way: The man who became famous by saying almost nothing of note during a 20-year career now says he has something to say.
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.
It's an interesting proposition, even if the name "The Players' Tribune" made me think of Lenny Dykstra's ill-fated athlete magazine "Players Club" at first. This isn't an idea that's been half thought out. Eric FIsher of Sports Business Journal reports that Gary Hoenig, the former editor of ESPN The Magazine, will be overseeing editorial operations. The money to fund the venture is partly coming from Thomas Tull, the tycoon behind Legendary Entertainment and a part-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Also, if anyone can draw other athletes into this venture, it's Jeter. You have to think that any number of athletes would want their brands associated with The Captain's. It shouldn't be a problem attracting them.
But as Jeter is soon going to find out, the public won't simply be sated by the typical "we're going to play hard and take one game at a time" tripe you see from a majority of athletes who take to the Internet in search of an "unfiltered" landline to fans. If that were the case, websites and newspapers would just run transcripts of press conferences and call it a day. (It'd be a lot easier and a lot more profitable.)
Jeter may understand this, but do we really think he's going to be the one to break down the wall and get access to a player's thoughts on teammates, game plans and opponents? Do we really think these posts aren't going to be vetted by an army of PR pros and brand managers? Jeter knows better than anyone the value of being bland. (And let's say he is successful and does produce headline-worthy content. Those quotes are still going to be filtered by blogs and newspapers for readers who may never venture to his website.)
I suppose The Players' Tribune can feature other content that people might want. Things like workout plans, nutrition tips and behind-the-scenes vignettes with athletes, but it will take a high level of execution to make it a success.
That's not even mentioning the big challenge that all publishers face in monetizing online content, regardless of what it is or who's producing it.
It'll be interesting to see if Jeter and his people succeed with this one. The money here says the website will have to be a lot more interesting than Jeter ever was while standing in front of his locker after a game.
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