Philadelphia magazine contributor and author of Friday Night Lights Buzz Bissinger is in the spotlight again this week after penning the much-talked-about profile of Caitlyn Jenner for Vanity Fair. Since the cover hit the web on Monday, he says he’s received hundreds of interview requests. He’s done the morning-show circuit, and appeared on Anderson Cooper and Katie Couric to talk about his experience profiling the most famous transgender woman in the world.
I caught up with Buzz on the phone this morning to find out how the story came about. Why did he get the assignment? What precautions did he take to keep it under wraps? Did he, a man who’s written about his own gender experimentation, glean any insight from his time with Caitlyn?
Here’s a roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles this week.
Philadelphians have responded to Buzz Bissinger’s request for an apology with a definitive “Shut the Fuc* up” you “narcissistic moron.” Those quotes came from a couple of the kinder comments and tweets directed at Bissinger following his desperate and needy appearance on WIP radio.
Before I share more responses to Buzz, a little background:
After Nick Foles was leveled by a cheap shot from 325-pound Washington Redskins nose tackle Chris Baker, a vicious hit that would have knocked a lesser man out of the game, the Eagles quarterback got up and led his team to victory in one of the gutsiest NFL performances of the year. The next day I wrote that Buzz Bissinger owed Nick Foles an apology. Bissinger wrote a cover story on Foles for Philadelphia magazine where he called the quarterback “soft” and “chicken shit.”
Bissinger waited until Foles had a less than stellar performance to respond and then called in to the Angelo Cataldi radio show to say it was Philadelphia who owed him an apology for giving him such a hard time about the article. And then Bissinger doubled-down on the Foles hate, again calling him “chicken” and claiming he doesn’t have what it takes to win in the NFL.
Once upon a time, Buzz Bissinger didn’t seem to think much of Nick Foles. That time was July, and Buzz was writing for the cover of Philadelphia magazine:
But unless he stops being chickenshit and goes into the middle, he will never guide the Eagles to the place that only tantalizes us. We are tired, Nick. We are already dependent on you. So man up to be the man.
Long before the cheap shot on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles by Washington Redskins 325-pound nose tackle Chris Baker, Buzz Bissinger launched his own cheap shot at Foles. Baker attacked Foles’ body; Bissinger attacked his character.
Bissinger penned the cover story on Foles for the July issue of Philadelphia magazine. Bissinger, frustrated that Foles refused an interview, lashed out like a petulant child. In the article he called Foles a “one-dimensional choirboy caricature.” He said Foles has “fragility embedded into everything.” Bissinger, always Mr. Class, even called Foles “chicken shit” and said he needed to “man-up.”
But of all the quotes in the article, one paragraph stands out as especially foolish now that Foles has bounced back from a hit that would have sidelined most quarterbacks.
In Philadelphia magazine’s July cover story, Buzz Bissinger wrote memorably of Eagles quarterback Nick Foles that, “unless he stops being chickenshit and goes into the middle, he will never guide the Eagles to the place that only tantalizes us.” He instructed Foles to “Sidle up to a bar on the road and order a slug of single malt, not a double shot of milk.” And,”Don’t ever publicly say again that your favorite movie is The Lion King.” Bissinger observed that “there’s still an aura of softness about him, no fire. Maybe it’s the hee-haw face.”
But Bissinger overlooked all that on Labor Day, when he selected Foles in the second round of his 12-team fantasy football league.
In a recent mini-interview with Vanity Fair, Buzz Bissinger said he was doing much better after rehab and had locked his infamous Gucci leather away in a storage container. But as he put it then, “I really do like nice clothing.” Case in point: The dandyish velvet blazer and scarf he donned last night, as he read from Friday Night Lights at the Kelly Writers House in West Philly. Not bad, Buzz. Not bad.
My name is … Buzz Bissinger. I was born Harry Gerard Bissinger III. “Buzz” was a nickname given to me at birth by my mother.
I grew up … in New York City, on the Upper West Side. It was great. The city was different, and my parents gave me the full run of it at the age of 11 or 12. It was incredibly stimulating.
I live … between my apartment in downtown Philadelphia and a home in Long Beach, Washington, which I bought in October. It’s basically where Lewis and Clark ended up, with the Pacific on one side and Willapa Bay on the other. I’m in Philadelphia a week a month, sometimes more. But I dress the way they do in Washington now. More Carhartt, less Gucci.
I am most proud of … canceling my Twitter account, despite 25,000 followers.
On Sunday mornings … I read the New York Times online. Then I lie in bed watching NFL football to see how my fantasy football team is doing.
My parents taught me … both the importance of culture and, much more, the importance of working and trying to succeed. Which is a double-edged sword, because there’s a limit to ambition, and when you’re always trying to reach the next level of success, you are never really satisfied.
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Last seen confessing a shopping addiction, Philly scribe Buzz Bissinger has returned from rehab—and says he’s changed: No more Twitter, no more Daily Beast, and no more expensive clothing. All the really nice stuff went into a storage locker in Texas. He tells Vanity Fair: “I went into rehab for a variety of compulsive and dangerous behaviors, shopping addiction the least of them. I was doing physical harm to myself and beginning to take pharmaceuticals. I did tremendous damage to my marriage and caused my wife unforgivable pain. I also hurt others. I no longer cared about anything. I had a breakdown on pretty much every front. It had been in the making for years. The GQ (shopping addiction) story really did create an enormous misperception, one that was my fault. But I do not regret it. It was my way of bottoming out and knowing that I needed in-treatment help. I could no longer continue the way I was living.” [Vanity Fair]