Born in Manhattan, NY to immigrant Dominican parents, who moved his family to Miami when he was 2 years old. He grew up in North Miami, FL, with three sisters, one older, two younger. He majored in journalism at the University of Florida, where he covered Gators sports for both the Independent Florida Alligator, and several newspapers and news services across the state. Started at the Palm Beach Post in 2000 right out of school, covering the Florida Marlins for a season then the Miami Heat. Worked for the Miami Herald from 2002-2012, first as a Heat Beat writer for six seasons, then as a sports columnist for four years. Now has worked full time for ESPN (started as a freelancer on several shows) since 2012, working as an NBA columnist for ESPN.com, and a regular panelist on shows like Around the Horn, Highly Questionable, The Sports Reporters, The Jump, Outside the Lines, and several others.
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John: Welcome to another edition of the impact podcast. We’re so excited and honored to have with us today, ESPN host and sports personality, Israel Gutierrez! Welcome to the impact podcast, Israel!
Israel Gutierrez: Hey, thanks, John! I really appreciate it.
John: Hey, listen. Before we get going, you know, I’m a huge fan of yours. I was just telling that to you off the air. I have just finished watching you on Highly Questionable today while I was on the treadmill. I watch it every day if I can, whatever show you’re on. Can you share a little bit of your background? How you even got here before we get going on some of the other things we’re going to talk about today.
Israel: Yeah, of course. Absolutely. So, it’s funny because I tell this story often in terms of how I got into journalism. It really was just because I wanted to be in a class with my older sister in high school. You know, I was a sophomore at the time. Sophomore, junior, and senior were the only years in high school in the mid-90s over here. But, I’ve gotten to the class. She was a senior and I was a sophomore. I just wanted to be in the same class. We had, like, similar friends. By the very next year, I was editor of the yearbook. I did it a year after that as well. And so, it just kind of created that idea of wanting to do something that I just find fun, right? As opposed to my initial thought which was trying to be a lawyer. So, I went to the University of Florida. I happened to be wearing my gator stuff right now.
John: I see it!
Israel: I went to the University of Florida, majored in journalism, and did a lot of freelancing over there for newspapers and news services around the country, or around the state, rather. And then, I got my first job right out of school. They actually called to hire me about a month and a half before I graduated. And I asked, “Are you sure it’s okay that I finish school first?” They said yes. And so, I started off at the Palm Beach Post. I covered the Florida Marlins for a year. They were the Florida Marlins then, now they’re the Miami Marlins.
Israel: I covered the Miami Heat for two seasons, then moved over to the Miami Herald. I got hired there and I was there for 9+ years. I was the Miami Heat’s beat writer for 6 of those years and then a sports columnist for the other 3+. Then, right around 2012, ESPN came calling with just the right job offer. They’d had a couple of other offers in the past that just didn’t really fit what I wanted to do. But, you know, NBA columnist is where they sort of got me in. It’s been sort of a transition over the last eight years from, you know, doing a lot of writing and a lot of NBA-centric to more General Sports talk shows and not writing as much. But I think that, currently, I’m at a place where I’m going to try to meld all those together and maybe make another adjustment to my career. Let’s see.
John: What do you enjoy more? Do you enjoy the writing or the on-air stuff more?
Israel: Well, it’s all different, right? I feel like I miss the writing stuff a lot since I haven’t been doing it as much and that’s really where you can, sort of, get in and know subjects, sports, or trends. If you’re just reacting to them on TV, yeah, you’re having a great time, you’re talking to friends and entertaining people, hopefully. But when you really get to the nitty-gritty and just start doing the reporting, the research, and just getting to know the subjects a lot, I think that’s probably my favorite. Whether it’d be a TV feature, whether it would be a writing feature, I think, just getting really personal information from athletes, whoever it is, from the front office people. I guess that’s probably my favorite part.
John: Got it. Well, you’re wearing your cut-off shirt today. So, this is a fair question because you got the guns out. I mean, wait a second. Israel, is this, you know, from a Darwinism point of view, is this nature or nurture, dude? Let me know because I want your trainer’s phone number.
Israel: Yeah, you know what it is? I mean, it’s definitely not nature. This is no disrespect to the rest of my family but we are not an athletic, shredded group, if you will. It’s definitely a nurture thing. I was actually a heavy kid growing up. I was, like, 200+, I guess, at 13 years old.
Israel: Yeah. And you want to get to the psychology of it or what have you. It’s probably because I didn’t want to look any sort of attractive in any way. That was closeted and brought, you know, didn’t want any attention and so. Or, it was just some version of childhood depression. Who the heck knows. But, I was a bigger kid. There was a point, in my sophomore year of college specifically, when I decided, “Hey, I need to trim down.” I think I gained the classic “Freshman 15” and got even heavier. So I was like, all right. And then I trimmed down a lot and then just over the course of like, my 20s, I just didn’t really have a motivation. I was kind of just meh. And then, at one point, I think it was like 2008, a friend of mine asked to do a half marathon. I tried to sign up for it but it was already filled. So, I signed up for the full marathon.
Israel: Yeah. I pressed send and paid for it before I could change my mind. I trained by myself, having never run, even a half marathon. I just trained by myself for several months and did that in 2009. It was just one of those challenges where I said to myself, “Wow.” Never in my life did I think that I could run a marathon. I hated it. I hated the idea of running. But, once I did that, I was like, well, there are really no limitations to what I can do. So, rather than be jealous of that dude with the 8-pack over there, let me see if I can go get one. And, it probably helped that ESPN allowed me. The affordability. They allowed me to afford a trainer. So it definitely helped. But, it’s definitely just a lot of work. If you really want to get into the psychology of it, I don’t know how happy I was as a person at the time. So, maybe this is sort of me getting out some anger and some disappointment at the time. But, hey, it seemed to work out okay. Because, you know, now I just tell people, “All I want to do is live until I’m 120.”
John: That’s good!
Israel: If that means trying to stay in shape, then that’s why I’m doing it.
John: Well, you look amazing, you look super young. I’m also seeing a new trend. I’m 58 years old right now, Israel. And my hair, this was like, supposed to be winning. But now that I look at your hair… and last week, I interviewed Ryan Searoth[?] I’m realizing now, all the hot thing is to be, like, your kind of gray. And now, look, I’m zigging when I’m supposed to be Zagging again.
Israel: It’s so funny. I laugh about this all the time for a couple of reasons. One is when I was a kid, my dad had similar hair but he would dye it all the time. And… it would just look terrible. Not because dyed hair looks terrible, it’s just because he would never pick the same color twice. It would just be like, all of a sudden he looks like me right now, and then the next day, it’s jet black. And then, three weeks later, it’s, like, a brown. I’m just, you know what? I’m just going to go ahead and lean into it. I used to do it even shorter than this. So, you couldn’t really fully tell how gray I was. But, now that I grow it a little bit more, people just ask me all the time if it’s my natural hair color. Initially, I just started laughing. I was, like, why would anybody dye their hair this color? But apparently, it is the thing. So, I sort of stumbled into a trend that I am [crosstalk]
John: Now, you’re leading the trend! It’s awesome.
Israel: Your hair, by the way, John, your hair looks great. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t know what you did to it, but for 58, you said? 58-year-old head of hair, that stuff’s envious, right there.
John: This was supposed to be winning, but now I see you, I see Ryan Searoth, I see Anderson Cooper, and I’m like, I’m not winning anymore. These guys are winning. You know, I’ve had so many of the great ESPN folks on. Sarah Spain, Shelley Smith, Jessica Mendoza. Now, with you. Who’s been your favorite interview in your career?
Israel: You know what, that’s a great question. I think, my answer right now is disappointing because the interview has not been aired in any way. It was an interview I did in 2018 with Billy Beane, a former MLB player. Now, he works for MLB. When I was in high school in my formative years, that’s when he eventually came out. Right? And, he told some stories about playing while being closeted and everything else. He wrote this great book. At the time, it was a real tug at me. It was, “Wow.” This is a major league baseball player or a former major league baseball player, depending on when you listen to the story. For the first time, I realized, “Okay, wow. There are more people like me, perhaps.” There’s a representation and while they’re closeted and fearful, there are. I’m not alone out there. That was something that I, sort of, carry with me for a long time. I definitely followed Billy just because. It’s not like he continued an athletic career, but he continued to be a presence in the LGBT community. All to the point to his job title now with MLB.
So, I spoke to him in the beginning stages of a project that I was working on. Which again, it’s just kind of stalled a little bit, but it’s still in the works. And so, we sat down in the offices in MLB, in New York, New Jersey area. I don’t know what it was, it was just very comforting. It was just, you know, sitting down with somebody. He didn’t know that he had been a, kind of, I wouldn’t even say mentor. But just, kind of like, a light, a guiding light, if you will. So, we sit there and talk. He didn’t know anything about my fondness for him. It was just an amazing interview. He cried a little, I cried a little, and I know he went into it not really knowing what we were really going to talk about. By the end of it, I had the person I was working with say, “Hey, I feel like we’ve maybe taken too much of Billy’s time. He thought it was going to be a 20-minute interview.” And Billy’s just said, “No,” he took a breath and said, “This has been great.” Again, I haven’t even released anything of it yet. I will eventually. But, it was just, to me, the most personal and powerful interview that I have been a part of.
John: Well, I’m so glad. I hope it comes out. I want to watch it. I knew I was interviewing you some weeks back. Whenever I’m interviewing someone who I’m really excited about and really interested in and who’s had a fascinating journey, I’m always working it over in my head weeks in advance. I’m sure you do the same. Hey, I loved your article here. Israel Gutierrez on taking flight after coming out, this was a great article. I want to get into that but last night, I was doing some prep work for this interview and I read one of the most interesting stories I’ve read in a long time. It was today’s New York Times on Glenn Burke and no one can say I didn’t make it. I got to tell you, Israel, it was semi-heartbreaking because it talked about his struggle, his journey. Dying of AIDS in 95, which is only a mere 26 years ago, but almost seems like forever. Definitely, in terms of where we’ve come in society, maybe a lifetime ago. I love the line here. “No one could say I didn’t make it. I played in the world series, I’m in the book, and they can’t take that away from me. Not ever.”
Israel: John, you’re really, just touching on it. Really. It’s a soft spot for me because, actually, the Burke family is one of the several people that I interviewed for this project that I’m working on. To hear the story… And for those who don’t know, Glenn Burke was a major league baseball player who played for, basically, just the Dodgers and A’s[?]. He was, effectively, the first openly gay baseball player because, while he was in public about it, it wasn’t sending anything in the media or would have you. He was in his own locker room, openly gay. In his own Clubhouse, openly gay. I mean, there’s a lot to this story and I won’t bog you down with all of the details but some of them, being that they believed that the reason he was traded from the Dodgers to the A’s. Mind you, this was a player who, retroactively, was compared to Ricky Henderson, which is funny because Ricky Henderson essentially replaced him in Oakland. They were people saying that he was the greatest baseball player they’d seen. He was, effectively, the Michael Jordan. I’m not just talking about baseball. He was the Michael Jordan of the Bay Area at the time. Whenever people show up at pickup games and basketball, they would want to play against Glenn Burke because he was the greatest player out there.
Part of the reason, supposedly, according to his family and according to Glenn, told that why he was traded was because he ran into some LA Dodgers Executives in a gay bar. That’s how: A, they found out he was gay. And that’s how they found out that he knew that they were gay. Then, soon thereafter, he was traded to Oakland. There’s a lot of history and you can read it. Look it up on Tommy Lasorda and his relationship with his child who was openly gay. He was a player for Tommy Lasorda and is actually friends with Lasorda’s son. Again, it was mostly mistreatment and just get him away, despite being a great player. Then, in Oakland, you had his manager,, Billy Martin, at the time. Can I use expletives?
John: Yeah, of course.
Israel: So, he would basically introduce Glenn Burke as “our faggot.” It just became like, this was a guy in the prime of his physical life, just getting beat down constantly. He would have people over for the holidays and it would be other gay men who didn’t have a family, who were abandoned. His family never, obviously, turned on him. So, they would welcome him over for holidays and everything else. Eventually, he quit. He couldn’t take it anymore.
You know what happens when you’re in that situation when you’re alone, and especially, in that time and that era, you maybe get into a little bit of casual drug use, which he did. The HIV virus, at some point, was something that he picked up and, eventually died of AIDS. But, he was the picture. He was the first real example, at least in baseball. There’s probably another one, David Kopay in football, who was out. It showed you what the world would do, at that time. If anybody knew the story of Glenn Burke and was closeted in professional sports, why would they want to come out? It literally killed him. That history is something that people don’t know. Right now, if you were to ask people, Glenn Burke, they’d probably feel like they’re impressing you by telling you, “Hey, that’s the guy who invented the high five.” They credit him with inventing the high five. That’s the least interesting part of his life. I can’t wait for that to be common information for a lot of people.
John: I hope you tell that story. I’m going to come back to this article because there’s a line in there that I want to come back to you, but I know you’re a basketball guy. Obviously, as a report sports reporter. Michael Jordan, during this pandemic, came out with his 10-part series on him. I want to go to the 8th episode, the last part of the 8th episode, where he got emotional. He said, “Leadership has a price, and winning has a price.” He got emotional. The only time in the whole 10-part series that I saw him emotional. I want to take it back to this whole issue of coming out. Last week, I was re-listening to an episode of Howard Stern. That was taped during the pandemic with Anderson Cooper. And, Cooper talked about Tim Cook, the guy who arguably leads the most valuable company in the entire planet with hundreds of thousands of employees, and talks to the media on a regular basis. He called Anderson Cooper to understand how to navigate the process of coming out. So, Glenn Burke dies with his sister and his family around him but still, in a very tough spot, in a very lonely place, in the middle of the 90s. Israel, you went through this just years ago, a few years back. Have we really evolved that much if Tim Cook’s calling in Anderson Cooper? Are we that progressive? Have we come that far? Or, do we still have a long, long way to go?
Israel: I mean, the short answer is that. Right? It’s that we still have a long way to go. The first thing you mentioned there, with the Michael Jordan, and this is where I can bring these two together here, is that leadership does come at a cost, right? There’s a price for it. I can only speak for me, but I’m saying for us and I’ll just speak for the LGBT community, but, for us, I can navigate my own life. I did it closeted. I was successful at it. I did not have to address my minority status as an LGBT person who, however many or whatever percentage of people in this country and the world thinks, thinks of me lesser. I didn’t have to really do that. This is where, I think, the leadership thing comes with a price.
So, you take accountability for yourself at one point. If you come out and you say, “Alright, I can deal with me and whatever daggers come my way, I can fend them off. I’ll deal with me.” But if you’ve done that, and I happen to be fortunate enough to do that with a safety net, with a lot of people around me, and with a career already in hand, but if you do that and then say, “Man, I don’t want this to happen to other people. If I have a child that ends up being LGBT and all of a sudden, they have to go through the same things, what was the point of me going through it, right?” So, that’s where it says, leadership comes with a price. I said this after I came out to anybody who would listen, my bosses, whatever, that, if people want to pigeonhole me as the gay sports reporter, I’m fine with that. That’s more important to me, what happens at the end of my career, my life, in that area, and helping other people, means more to me, than slightly entertaining people in the sports field. So, I think that when I say that it comes with a price, it really does. Like, I could sit here and just worry about myself. Or, I can try to make a movie, try to make a documentary about it, which is part of the project that I was telling you about. Or I could, and not to get too behind the scenes on stuff, but where I can fight for certain things within a company, within an organization, within anything really. So, when you take on that burden for other people, as well, it could be draining. But you also have to think a couple of things: One, the good fortune that I happen to have had to be in this position without a lot of scarring, right? But also just that, I want to do that.
You know, I have a lot of children in my family, I don’t have any myself but my sister’s all do my cousins do and I’ve always grew up around kids. It’s always been this idea of you just want what’s better. You want life for them to be better than it was for you. That’s all I can think of. This is probably TMI, but I had a niece recently come out to me. That was heavy stuff. It’s one of those deals where it’s just, am I going to even do enough to make her life better in her lifetime? So, yeah. [crosstalk]
John: Did she come out to you first, to help her navigate the process? Or, was it a family deal?
Israel: She technically told her mother first but she told her mother with the idea of, “Hey, I want to talk to-” they call me Elito, “-I want to talk to Elito about this.” So, yeah, it was a heavy situation and it just made me realize that I wish I would have had that. I wish I would have had the ability to be able to say that to someone at that age but also that, yeah, it just comes with a responsibility. And… I’ll be more than happy to just open people’s eyes.
When you say, “How much farther do we have to go?” Well, I don’t know if I’m going to see a resolution that I would like in my lifetime. So… it’s going to be a long time but, you know it’s going to be a long time when basically, if you just break it down, and boil it down to the essentials of the argument, it’s going to be real life versus religion, and the centuries and centuries of background and resume that religion has. You’re not going to win that argument. So, it can’t be an argument. It’s got to be a clarification.
I think a lot of the responsibility frankly falls on leaders in religion and leaders in government to say, “Hey, maybe we haven’t seen this properly and we followed this down the road that we shouldn’t have. Let’s try to clarify.” Whether it be a translation of the Bible. You know, that’s something that you could do a deep dive on the internet and find several different translations on several different topics in the Bible. I happen to have done one on this topic and recognize that, “Hey, a lot of the issue is strictly translation. If you just go with what the consistencies are in that book. This is an anomaly, this is something that’s different.” Again, not to get bogged down in the details, people can do the research on their own, but, I think that’s where the crux of the issue is. It’s just, the belief cannot be stronger than the fact that my life is real and not my choice. Until we get to that understanding, I don’t think we’re even going to be on the same plane in terms of the conversation.
John: Great point. For listeners and viewers who just joined us, we got Israel Gutierrez. He’s a reporter, a sports personality on ESPN, and you can find him all over the place. I just watched him today on Highly Questionable. I’m a huge fan of Israel. If you want to find him, you could also find him: @izgutierrez on Twitter and on Instagram: @mrizgutierrez .
Putting those two points together that you just brought up on religion versus reality, in the Glenn Burke article in today’s New York Times. The true story of Glenn Burke. Father Richard Purcell, when he eulogized him said, “He died in truth. He told the truth. He didn’t live a lie. And I believe the truth sets people free.” You feel that way still?
Israel: I do. Because it’s been interesting, just checking in with myself. The more of my truth that is revealed, right? I came out personally in 2009 to my friends and family. I could tell a shift in me, my friends could tell a shift in me. When I got to ESPN in 2012, I had just started doing Around The Horn again that year. I stepped back in 2009, and so there was a three-year gap. Even on my first show back to a new reality, and I don’t know if this was intended for me to hear, whether he was talking to a preacher[?] and I overheard it, but he was just saying how different I seemed and how much more confident I felt, and… it’s a hundred percent true. When I came out publicly again in 2015, it was another level.
I think, right now after a lot of these, my personal things that I’ve gone through, I now start to feel what I imagined most people my age – I’m 43 – start to feel like. It’s like, “Wow.” Like you’re just starting to figure life out a little bit. Right? I think the more you speak your truth, the quicker you get to that point. The more you can sort of, soak in and compare yourself to others, and just recognize your place in the world, just have a clearer view of things, where, I feel terrible saying that in the context of Glenn Burke, though, because it cost him his life. It’s probably unfair to say, frankly, because who knows, he could have gotten HIV/AIDS, even if he wasn’t treated… But, you can’t imagine that he would try to isolate, right? You can’t imagine that he would feel so down.
Frankly, the reason he got worse, health-wise, is because, and he has been playing in the gay leagues, and it was a source of life for him because it was just like, “Wow, I can be myself out here and not have to worry about all these.” Then, one night randomly gets hit by a car. It ruined his leg, can’t play again. So now, it’s everything crashing upon him. I just can’t imagine he would have had that look if it would have been, supportive while at work, stayed in the major leagues, and didn’t have to play in the gay leagues, he wouldn’t be crossing the street at the time that he didn’t. Who knows what would have happened. He could have been a beloved person, who, when he actually announced that he had HIV or Aids, everybody would have rallied around him. Who knows what that would have resulted in.
So, it’s hard to say definitively without a sort of, you know, generally you can’t just say, “Hey, the truth will set you free.” Because for some people, the truth, people aren’t ready to hear that truth. At that time, that was certainly the case for Glenn Burke. I don’t know what situation we’re talking about now, whether it’d be somebody who’s transgender and people don’t understand. Who knows what path that takes them. In general, I believe in that saying and I think it’s the way to go. It’s the way toward progress but sometimes, man, it’s just depending on the context you’re talking about. It’s not always true.
John: I hope the project that you refer to is real. If it does come out, I think there’s going to be a lot of value to it. If you can get that produced and get that out, I think there’s a lot to it. When you think about, just as a sports reporter, what’s the one get that you want to get, that you haven’t gotten yet? Who do you want to get? Who do you see on television or a player in a sport who is doing something really different and you’re just dying to get in front of that person?
Israel: So I kind of just want to spend a day with Serena Williams. It’s really just curiosity, right? Everything about her life, from when she was a child until now is wildly intriguing. The way she carries herself and the way that she’s done everything has been very impressive. I just kind of want to be by the person for a little bit, you know? This is more of an interview, not necessarily spend the day with, but I, and probably going to do this at some point, hopefully, they’re still together. Sue bird and Megan Rapinoe are a couple that I would like to talk to at the same time. I was thinking about representation growing up, right? I mentioned Billy Beane and I cannot imagine how awesome it is when you’ve got Megan Rapinoe and Sue bird. Two lesbian women hosting the ESPYs. Now, I know the ESPYs is kind of, like a contrived award show, whatever. But it’s been around for a long time. There are people in their twenties right now, who know the ESPYs is just a regular awards show. It’s just part of the others, right? Almost as much history as the Oscars. And, you have them hosting it, talk about just normalizing, right? They’re two of the greatest sports figures of our time but also just happened to be really likable people. And as a couple, here they are presenting all these other amazing athletes to you. It felt really, really cool and, you know, that’s an interview that I feel that, in terms of groundbreaking, in terms of people who, in the long term of the story, of our story, who’s going to stand out to me. I mean, those two women, definitely stand out to me. Not just for everything that they’ve done individually, but, even at that moment, it was a wow thing, for me.
John: Tomorrow’s the championship game of any sport you could choose. NHL, NBA, MLB NFL, Tennis, or the Masters. Where do you want to be?
Israel: Tomorrow? Wimbledon final. It’s basically the only event that’s on my checklist that I haven’t done yet. I did Olympics in ’08, which was great. It checked off a lot of boxes, mostly because I’m a huge volleyball fan. The men went on an indoor run to gold, the women, silver, and then, you had Misty May and… don’t make me forget Christie… Oh, man. Misty May-Treanor, I can even give you her full name and I’m forgetting the other. Oh my god. Anyway, the most popular women’s volleyball beach duo ever. I was a big fan of her when she was at Stanford, too. Why her name is escaping me is driving me crazy.
So, I got a lot of things checked off there and the only thing that, as I said, tomorrow I would want on that list, would be the Wimbledon final, or the Wimbledon, in general. So, that’s the answer you’re getting today.
John: That’s awesome. I love it. 10 years from now, you’re still very young. Obviously, with the way you look, you’re going to live to 120 as you said at the top of the show. When you’re 53, I’m interviewing you and I’m a lot older, hopefully, gray by then so I look like you, good like you, what are you going to be doing? Like, what’s your role going to be then? And, how are you going to evolve your career?
Israel: Ideally, I would love to be done with the Daily Sports World in my early 50s and just, sort of, moving on to using, even if it’s sports figures or would have you, as just a way to get information out there and, that’s doing it through, whatever it would be, interviews and some of the stuff that I was talking about that I really like doing, to begin with. I mean, you want to joke and say it’s like a Roy Firestone situation or whatever, I just want to talk to interesting people. Just get little nuggets of information out there or just thoughts that people don’t think of every day I thought about this the other day, too.
Because, I don’t want to get into detail on this, but I was basically explaining to someone, why something would feel bad or be unfair to an LGBT person. And the person that I was speaking to, you would think, would recognize these things. But he didn’t. So, after me explaining that to this person, it was very eye-opening to him. That was one of the many reasons why, I just think, there’s a lot that we don’t know and there’s a lot we assume. There’s so much information and there are so many ways to get it all that I think we just assume too much. A lot of times people mess up and say things that they’re not supposed to say. And, you realize that “Oh, we’re all just all judging them, castigating them.”
It’s just like, they haven’t had time to think about that subject. Especially when you talk about some of these professional athletes who have spent almost every minute of their day, focusing on their craft and not really worrying about the outside world so much. Maybe they slip up on the lesson. Oh, you’re not supposed to say that word, and it’s still teachable, right? But, if all these things are out there and accessible more often and you get personalities that people recognize and just to talk about it, then it’s in your brain. You can download it, register it all. Then, down the road, you won’t use an offensive slur or you won’t treat somebody a certain way.
That’s basically what I can see myself doing. Just dropping in and doing some interviews, doing some podcast, doing something with people who are either underrepresented or have a little bit of an Underdog Story. Or, just anything that’s heartfelt and unique because I think that’s where people… I mentioned Roy Firestone and you think of like a Tom Rinaldi or something when you think of the heartfelt stuff. I get it. It’s a soft voice, it’s great delivery, and it’s a soothing story, but I think, just really getting to the real heart of a lot of people, everyday people, in sports. That’s probably where I just want to be. I just want to open up the lines of emotion and sensitivity when it comes to this animal that we call the sports world.
However that manifests itself, whether it’d be me doing occasional interviews for, interview shows or having my own content, network, what have you. That’s what I would love to do.
Outside of that, probably just throw some money in real estate and not really have to work very hard for the second half of the 120 years.
John: Are you going to stay down? I know you’re a gator and I know you’re down in Florida now. Are you going to end up staying in Florida? Or, are you going to look to change your venues down the road?
Israel: I’m down to move. I love South Florida because it’s where I grew up. I’ve been down here since I was 2 years old. The weather, we get about two weeks of winter, and then it’s summer the rest of the time. I’ve gotten used to that, I kind of enjoy it. I can definitely move though. I just got a lot of families here. All those nieces and nephews I was talking about and sisters, they’re all here. So, it would have to be something really important to sort of pull me away from here.
John: What’s happening with your old crew? I miss you and the crew, Dan Le Batard and Stugotz. When are you guys all coming back together? I’m dying for… give me an exclusive here.
Israel: I mean, honestly, if I were to answer that question, it’s probably a breach of contract. I don’t think I’m allowed to talk to that company but it’s interesting to watch. I know ESPN’s a little bit less joyful without them. But, I just love the idea of and, you know, it might not be an ESPN place, but the idea of just bringing your friends together and talk. That’s kind of what we do in sports. Dan Patrick did that, as well with the Danettes. The way they’ve done that, it was just fantastic. I just really hope I can still hear it for a long time, whether or not I’m part of it. I’ve sort of interjected my voice into a lot of the conversations, anyway. Nobody needs to hear what I have to say, necessarily. But, it’s just a fun group. I think I’m lucky because I can, if I really needed to, just invite any of them over and just hang out.
Eventually, who knows if we’ll ever be on the air together again, but, I feel like they’ll always be a part of my life.
John: Yeah, I hope so because you guys are all great together. It’s always great to watch you with them and then with you. Israel, I’m going to give you the final call here. I know we have a little bit of a hard stop and I want to be sensitive to time and everything like that, but, I want to give you the final word and I want to thank you again for coming on today and being so open and true to everyone about yourself and about some of your thoughts on some of the most important topics that are out there today.
Israel: Yeah, I appreciate it. Again, thanks for having me on and, you know, most of the time I just say yes to any sort of interview because I feel like in large part if they’re getting to know me then we can sort of veer off into some other topics. I really appreciate you, sort of, hitting the ones that I feel like really matter to me, and I didn’t ask you to. So, I appreciate it.
I think, what we’ve got going here in sports media right now is just a really cool, sort of, melding of personalities, right? So, I considered Dan Le Batard, when I grew up, and by grew up, meaning from my 15, 16-year-old, I considered him, this is going to sound crazy… my conscience. Because, I always thought I was like, I mean, I read him and I knew him a little bit and I’m just like, man. It was almost like, what would Dan do in this situation? I tried not to emulate him in terms of writing and everything else because that’s impossible. But, just in terms of decisions in the real world. As I mentioned earlier, I never felt like I was fully formed. Because I hadn’t gone through all the normal things that most kids go through, you know, the relationship part of life, the breakups, and the personal stuff. That really wasn’t part of my life. So, I just kind of look to others a lot. I feel like we have that in sports media right now. If you really wanted to, you could just create a collection of people that are going to give you amazing sports information and they’re going to entertain you a little bit. But, they’re also going to be a little bit of a direction, a little bit of a nudge, a little bit of a, “Hey, we know this is a good group of people. If we learn a little bit from them, I think we’ll all be a little bit better.” I only say that because of the people who reach out and ask these questions and are very thankful about that. If people weren’t interested in us and what we were outside of our jobs, then, we wouldn’t get questions like that. Hopefully, that’s just kind of where we’re at right now and a little brat pack at ESPN. Hopefully, it doesn’t get broken up too much more. We can all have, a sort of grow up together if you will, in this industry.
John: It’s fun watching you all together. I tell you, all the stuff, it’s actually really fun. You make sports journalism something it wasn’t years ago. It was a little more stuffy in the days and I grew up with Howard Cosell, Dick Schaap, and all those legends. Now, you guys have made it really fun.
Israel: But there’s a place for all of that. I don’t want people to just think that “Oh, it’s just going to be a bunch of clowns trying to make everybody laugh.” I was on the Sports reporters for almost a decade and it felt stuffier, but it felt necessary, too. Because on a Sunday morning you just want to hash it all out and not have to worry about having to crack somebody up. I think there’s a place for all of it, and fortunately, I’m a part of a group that sees that and you can balance it out and play both sides if you want.
John: For our listeners and viewers who want to find Israel Gutierrez, it’s @mrizgutierrez on Instagram, and it’s @izgutierrez on Twitter. Israel, you’ve inspired me, even inspired our listeners and our viewers. Thank you for doing what you do. You’re constantly making positive impact in this planet. I know you’re making the world a better place and you’re always welcome back on the impact podcast. Thanks again.
Israel: I feel like there’s plenty more to say so whenever you want me back, just hit me up.
John: We’re going to be back, take care.
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