Bryan is joined by A Song of Ice and Fire series novelist George R.R. Martin to discuss his career as a journalist at Northwestern, his view on the media and the impact of the internet, and takeaways from the 2022 NFL draft and his New York Jets and New York Giants fandom.
In the excerpt below, George R.R. Martin discusses his Jets and Giants fandom and his favorite sports media.
Bryan Curtis: We do a lot of sports at The Ringer. So I wanted to ask you a little bit about the New York Jets, which are another passion of yours.
George R.R. Martin: Well, the Jets and the Giants both had great drafts, I think.
Curtis: OK. Can we get the Jets and Giants draft analysis here?
Martin: Well, yes, of course they partly had great drafts because they were so terrible last year so they were very high on the draft [order]. They both had two picks in the top 10 and, you know, most of the talking heads seemed to think that they did really well with those picks and both teams are going to be better this year. But I hope that is true because I watched them every week. And I tell you these last few years, you know, it’s been brutal because they’ve both been terrible.
I’ve been following both teams since the ’60s here. It always seemed like when one was good, the other one was bad, you know? I mean, when the Jets had Joe Namath and were winning a Super Bowl and contending, the Giants were terrible. And then the Giants got good and the Jets got terrible. So it went back and forth. But these last few years they’ve both been terrible. So my Sunday, which is my traditional day off—I mean, most [weeks] I work seven days a week, except during the fall, during football season, and I work six days a week and I take off Sundays to watch the Giants and the Jets.
Curtis: Now if I were standing in your living room while the Giants or Jets were losing badly, how would I see you react?
Martin: I don’t know. I just get deeper and deeper depressed. I’m not a guy to throw things at the TV usually, but God …
Curtis: You’re not a yeller, in other words.
Martin: I don’t know. Am I a yeller? No, I don’t think I’m a yeller.
Curtis: Zach Wilson—in or out?
Martin: I hope he’s great, but I haven’t seen it yet. I mean, the backup quarterback was the one who had the sensational game, Mike White, when he came in, my God, he was incredible. But then of course it’s the Jets, so he gets injured immediately the week following before we can find out if he’s the real thing or not. But I hope they got Wilson some weapons. They hopefully can protect him with some people on the offensive line. I hope [Mekhi] Becton comes back, though. I’m a little worried about that. He’s a man-monster and seemed to be developing into quite a fierce left tackle until he got injured. So we need him and now we’ll see how good Wilson is. He has all these new weapons, and the same thing with the Giants. We gotta see how good they are now that they got some strength for the offensive line. And we’ll see how good Danny Dimes really can be if he has protection and receivers. But I don’t know.
Curtis: Are you a reader of sportswriting?
Martin: I used to read sports columns in the newspapers. I don’t even know where it is these days.
Curtis: You don’t read so much of it anymore.
Martin: No, I watch First Take and I watch The Max Kellerman Show.
Curtis: Wait, you watch First Take?
Martin: Yeah, I’ve been watching First Take for years.
Curtis: You’ve talked about this before? Did I miss this?
Martin: I don’t specifically talk about [First Take], I talk about football in my blog.
Curtis: You’re a fan of Stephen A. Smith?
Martin: He’s great, but I don’t like the change in format. I thought Smith and Kellerman were very good together. Now, you know, it’s a different guy every day. None of ‘em are nearly as good as Kellerman. Some are better than others and I like the old format better, but then again, like I say, I’m an old guy. I also liked Chris Berman. I really miss watching Chris Berman doing the draft, and he did the postgame show and the pregame show. Chris Berman and Tom Jackson were the best, man. And they were fun. Chris would invent all his goofy nicknames for people and all of that, but it wasn’t like a clown show. Some of these current things, it seemed like they’re all, they’re not discussing football so much as they’re kind of clowning around and playing silly games that they’re inventing for the week and doing things with cardboard cutouts and all that. I don’t know. Another proof that I’m just ancient here, but Chris Berman and Tom Jackson were an incredible team. And, and when it comes to actually watching the games, John Madden was so good. He was fun, but it also gave you a great insight into the game that some other people didn’t necessarily give you. So I miss him too.
This excerpt has been lightly edited for clarity.
Host: Bryan Curtis
Guest: George R.R. Martin
Associate Producer: Erika Cervantes