Interviews

Published on July 15th, 2020 | by Percy Crawford

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Pt 2: Jay Fiedler Talks Tua Tagovailoa, His Family’s Sports Camps and How Sports Can Bridge Racial Gaps!

Relationship with former New York Knicks forward, Anthony Mason prompted the Fiedler’s to begin Prime-Time Sports Camp.

Many including myself didn’t know that Jay Fiedler’s father treated former New York Knicks forward, Anthony Mason (RIP) like a son. In fact, the entire Fiedler family treated Mason as family. To the point where they started a camp led by Mason. Mason tragically passed away in 2015, but Prime-Time Sports Camp is still operated by the Fielder family to keep his memory alive and well. During a time of racial duress, stories like this are very important for public consumption. For years, sports has been used as a way to break down those racial barriers. Locker rooms can often eliminate cultural and racial differences. A common focus on winning has a way of setting those differences aside while pursuing a common goal.

During my recent conversation with Jay, we tackle the many differences within an NFL locker room, discuss his camps and much more!

You wanted the Dolphins to go all in to get, Joe Burrow. They decided to select Alabama quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa instead. What do you think of the selection?

Jay Fiedler: I just looked at it… I think Burrow was the number one guy far and away. He separated himself from everyone this year. Miami has been looking to get that one guy for a long time. Obviously, there are question marks with the health of Tua. With that there, there is certainly a risk in going in that direction, there’s a risk in giving up a lot of picks that it would have taken to get Burrow. Certainly, I’m sure they inquired about it and looked at a way to possibly go up. Whether that was their intention or not, I’m sure they explored that avenue. In the end, it didn’t look like Cincinnati was going to give that up anyways. Miami got their guy and I think they got a guy that if he can stay healthy, certainly gonna be a tremendous talent in the NFL. The way the league is going now with quarterbacks and offenses, guys who can be creative and still accurate with the football, those are two things that Tua certainly brings to the table as well as his competitiveness and his command of a locker room. He has all the intangibles that it takes to be successful. The big question mark obviously is, is he going to be able to stay healthy for an extended period of time.

Tell us about The Sports Academy in Brookwood Camps as well as Prime-Time Sports Camp.

Jay Fiedler: The Sports Academy in Brookwood Camps, that’s our summer camp operation. That’s something… like I said, my dad was in the summer camp business for 40-years. When I came into the business about 7 or 8 years ago to join my brother in running the business, we looked at the traditional sleep-away camp model. Saw an opportunity to really niche ourselves in the industry. With the connections that I had in the sports world, my brother was a former college basketball coach, so he had a number of connections in the sports industry as well. So, we were looking to create a niche in the summer camp business. With our experience in running traditional sleep-away camps and our connections in the sports world, we came up with programming a hybrid of a sports academy that can bring in top coaches and top instructors from around the world in a number of different sports. Give our kids the training in those sports, but also give a summer experience where they can have some fun and still have the social aspects that a traditional camp brings. So, that’s the focus with Brookwood camps. The website is www.brookwoodcamps.com.

And then Prime-Time Camps is kind of our sports training business. It actually started up with, Anthony Mason who my dad was a high school basketball coach for Springfield Gardens High School in New York where Anthony played. He really became kind of Anthony’s pseudo father. He considered himself like family to us and the relationship was mutual. When Anthony got his shot with the New York Knicks and was playing there in the 90’s, my dad and my brother started up a basketball camp with him under the Prime-Time Camps logo. That’s where it started. It was a basketball camp for a number of years and when I got back into the league in Minnesota, we started up a football camp. So, I have been running my football camp for over 20-years. And over the past 6 or 7 years, I’ve expanded to year-round training. So, I do quarterback training and we run camps and clinics year-round in football, my brother runs a basketball clinic, and Prime-Time Camps… the website is www.primetimecamps.com. You can find out all the information on us there.

I’m glad you mentioned the relationship you guys had with the late, Anthony Mason. Given all the racial tension going on in the world right now. For a Jewish family to take in a black kid and I’m sure if your dad served as a father figure, Anthony was like a brother to you and your brother as well. For you to see the divide right now, what has that been like for you?

Jay Fiedler: I think the sports world is a place that’s always brought people from different backgrounds together. It’s a place that can help unite us and help people find that middle ground in that area of acceptance. It’s really about working together as a team towards a common goal. I think nowadays, everything has become so tribal in every aspect of society. Whether it’s politics and even in the sports world. If you’re for your team, you’re against the other team, but in the locker room, everyone works together. And everyone has a common goal. It’s an area where backgrounds don’t get in the way of going after that common goal. As a Jewish player in the NFL where there was a priest in the locker room before every game, everyone saying the prayers before and after the game… I still felt accepted by everyone.

I remember just early on being in Philadelphia where, Reggie White had certainly had a big impact on the Christian culture of football and being a pastor and someone there. There were a lot of guys in the locker room… even though Reggie was gone, that time there were a lot of guys in that locker room that was heavy into Christian faith. Randall Cunningham was born again at that point when I got there. I always felt that there was a lot more interest in learning about where I came from and learning about the Jewish culture instead of trying to get me to convert to their beliefs. It was a lot more interests in what a different culture is like and how similar people really are when you get down to it.

Very well said. I appreciate the time, Jay. I hope all of this passes over and you guys are back up running your successful camps in the very near future and if you ever need me, I’m a phone call away.

Jay Fiedler: Thank you, Percy. I appreciate that.

 

 



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