The most revealing moment in Ed Bradley’s 60 Minutes profile of Derek Jeter last night (transcript) came toward its end, and the subject was the wall Jeter puts up between himself and the media. Bradley, like just about everyone else who has ever interviewed the Captain, was not going to get past the protective facade Jeter has constructed for himself. From the transcript:
Jeter admits he’s been wary of people since he was a kid. “I wish I trusted people more,” he says. “But when I meet someone, the first thing is, ‘What does this person want?’ And I put up a defense mechanism. But I’ve always been that way.
Not surprisingly, the CBS producers have removed the next exchange from the transcript, which went essentially like this:
Bradley: “Am I gonna get through?”
Jeter: (laughing): “No one has in 31 years, and it’s not gonna start now.”
We can’t help but respect Jeter’s desire for privacy, and the shots 60 Minutes provides of him getting mobbed in a midtown Starbucks and walking down the street near his home besieged by autograph seekers show, in part, why he’s guarded. The profile also suggested, though not very deeply, that the cause might be the fact that he is the product of biracial parents, and that as a younger man he was subject to sadly typical racial slurs.
Bradley gets some interesting material, though not much fresh, from Jeter’s parents (his father’s competitiveness, the good-behavior contract he signed as a boy, a certain signal he may have with his mom to indicate he’s going for a dinger—we suppose that’s bs, but anything for mom is okay in our book) yet never probes with any real deepth. (Okay, it’s tv.) There’s no sign of Jeter’s sister, and a half-assed stab at the “nightlife” (non)issue. Mr. Torre provides some pap. No teammates are interviewed, nor any of the Yankee beat writers.
It’s gonna take more effort than that to crack the Jeter facade.