Reddit! Landsberg here again. My first go at this was a tremendous success, so here I am again opening myself up to you to answer just about anything you can throw at me.

I’m here for two reasons today – firstly, I’m blessed say that Off the Record will be premiering it’s NINETEENTH SEASON tomorrow on TSN network at 5PM ET. Yes, I’m just as shocked as you are that the big guys upstairs have let me stay on the air as long as they have, so I’m going to continue to milk this for all it’s worth! This season we’ve got legendary Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, Blue Jays’ slugger Jose Bautista, and of course the return of OTR hall-of-famer Michael ‘The Playmaker’ Irvin…and that’s just our first two shows!

Secondly – and far, far more importantly – I’m here to once again hold an open forum to talk about mental health awareness. Tomorrow is World Suicide Prevention Day, something that is very near and dear to my heart. For those of you that don’t already know, I have battled my own personal bouts of depression, and I believe mental health is a subject that deserves to be discussed openly and honestly. My hope is that in sharing my story, I will encourage others to share theirs. In 2011, I created the #SickNotWeak movement to further promote my cause, a community where people can feel safe to share their stories. Since then, I’ve tried my best to keep the conversation going because talking about these things can save lives.

I'll be back at 12PM EST to answer your questions...let's do this! Ask me anything!!

Off The Record

World Suicide Prevention Day

SickNotWeak (work in progress!)


EDIT: Ok reddit, you got me! Let's do this!

EDIT 2: This was GREAT reddit! Love doing this with you folks, but that's all the time I've got today as I'm actually undergsoing a minor "facial surgery" in about 20 minute s(and, you know, getting ready for a new season of television). You can ask me anything, anytime, on Twitter at @heylandsberg

Comments: 408 • Responses: 52  • Date: 

CSM3000176 karma

Can the Hockey night in Canada crew get any worse? What did we do to deserve this?

heylandsberg138 karma

Let's wait and see.

Hark_An_Adventure98 karma

How much does Canada miss Jay and Dan, your former TSN colleagues? I feel so spoiled to have them down here in the U.S. Any fun stories about those two?

heylandsberg176 karma

Jay actually left for legal reasons. He was seen leaving TSN with an actual studio camera. Do you know how big those things are? God knows what he did with the camera - but I do know Jay was spotted around the zoo shortly thereafter.

thecodenameduchess65 karma

Have you ever had any thoughts of having Off The Record return to interviewing those from the Wrestling World? Along with that how did you feel about the episodes you did with the wrestlers including the chairman Vince McMahon and would you have done anything different?

heylandsberg100 karma

Loved the wrestling interviews. There was never, EVER any rules or boundaries, which is my dream. TSN doesn't carry wrestling anymore, so they are less inclined to give us guests. Favourite? Mark Calloway aka the Undertaker. Freaky to have an open, honest talk with the Undertaker. Great guy.

suaveitguy61 karma

Who is the least charismatic athlete you have ever interviewed?

heylandsberg142 karma

Not an athlete, but David Copperfield. I believe he fell asleep - and that wasn't the worst part of the interview.

GFY_EH58 karma

How much plastic surgery have you had? and what have you had done? Do you regret any of the procedures?

heylandsberg199 karma

I have no regrets. I have had 23 actual surgeries. 29 injections. And I have smeared my face with the blood of a goat.

GFY_EH76 karma

Big props for answering honestly. Much respect Mr. Landsberg.

The man can ask the tough questions, and answer them when the shoe is on the other foot.

heylandsberg174 karma

Thanks bud. I've taken some risks, and avoided "the big one", but I actually use the leftover skin from Axel Rose's last neck trim as a filler.

FalcoMcGary54 karma

Appearing "manly" and having a macho attitude with other guys often gets in the way of being able to say that someone isn't feeling like themselves, or struggling with mental illness. I've had guys ask me what it was like telling my friends about being bipolar, and it was honestly so difficult to open up to them.

What advice might you have for guys to be able to tell their bros what's going on?

heylandsberg140 karma

A few suggestions. 1) Whatever you say, say it with strength. 2) Whatever you say, say it like you're not ashamed. 3) Whatever you say, make sure they know that you are sick, not weak.

billsfan282854 karma

What advice would you give to friends of people suffering from depression?

heylandsberg160 karma

First thing: you have to acknowledge that you will never understand what your friend is feeling. Tell them that. And stop giving advice that makes sense in your head because it likely won't make sense in theirs. And ask! Ask "what can I do for you?"

zotoole23 karma

What about when you don't know what people can do to help?

heylandsberg129 karma

One thing you can do, always, is reduce their guilt. People with depression always feel guilty about not being able to be the person they were. Tell them you understand, and don't expect anything.

suaveitguy50 karma

Who is the best interviewer ever in your opinion? (Radio, print, or TV?) The conventional best choices might be Larry King, Charlie Rose, or Howard Stern - what do you think of them?

heylandsberg155 karma

Larry King doesn't belong in that list. Charlie Rose I love. Howard Stern is brilliant. Why don't we replace Larry with Barbara Walters. Now, she had balls.

bvlm50 karma

As someone with a significant anxiety disorder, thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you've done to shine a light on mental illness in this country; and for providing support to those of us who struggle on a daily basis. I've read and re-read your tribute to Wade Belak god knows how many times. It remains some of the best writing on the personal impact of mental illness I've ever read.

I guess I should ask a question. We're in an election campaign right now, and outside from Bell's "Let's Talk" day, politicians of the federal and provincial variety rarely discuss mental health. What initiatives would you like to see implemented that would make life easier for Canadians suffering from mental illness?

heylandsberg81 karma

That's easy. More facilities. More doctors. Better access to all of the treatments. But first, an acknowledgment that we have a HUGE crisis in how we treat mental illness in this country.

GGWinnipeg40 karma

Michael, what meds do you take for depression, are you diligent in taking them, have you ever tried to wean yourself off without doctor approval by skipping doses, and do you believe they work?

heylandsberg75 karma

Meds saved my life. 30 mg Cipralex daily. 2x 150 mg Welbutrin. Never weaned on my own. But tried 5 times, relapsed each time.

OhHelloPlease38 karma

Connor McDavid - worthy of the hype?

heylandsberg123 karma

I'm gonna say he's better than me and Stamkos right now.

suaveitguy35 karma

What do you make of the early career of Michael Sam? What kind of career could he have in football at this point?

heylandsberg101 karma

Doesn't have the talent to play in either the NFL or the CFL. Simple. I was pulling for him, though.

ohzopant33 karma

I'll be blunt: are you aware of how unflattering your makeup people are making you look on TV?

heylandsberg62 karma

I wear less makeup than almost anyone, and perhaps I need more - not less! Thanks for your bluntness.

asoiahats28 karma

Do you think Tebow will end up in the CFL?

heylandsberg139 karma

I doubt we'll ever see Tim Tebow, and I doubt he would ever actually make it. How was a guy who can't throw 20 passes a game going to throw 45? He just isn't good enough. End of story. End of career.

IncurableVehemence27 karma

How do you feel when guests get combative when you ask them a seemingly innocent question? I can think of two guests that come to mind that got angry with you; Chael Sonnen and CM Punk

heylandsberg48 karma

I love the combativeness. It's better in person, though, because it's easier to read what's going on in someone's mind. Chael may have been acting a bit. Punk is just overly sensitive...I think.

Emthree326 karma

What do you make of the trend of news stations tentatively avoiding the issue of mental health until a violent tragedy occurs?

heylandsberg117 karma

News stations are not about the news. They are about the ratings. Mass murder coverage gets ratings. Individual stories of mental health struggles do not.

JeffyRedHat25 karma

One of the best interviews I saw on OTR was Claude Lemieux and Darren Mccarty were these two as nice to each other off camera?

heylandsberg48 karma

Moments before OTR, they said NOTHING to each other. Not a word. Afterwards, they talked openly and honestly.

ineffablePMR25 karma

Hey Landsberg, can you tell us a cool story about Michael Irvin?

heylandsberg49 karma

Off camera - even nicer than he is on camera. He's never said 'no' to anything we've asked, and we've asked a lot, including getting him to eat an entire box of Popeye's chicken on air. You'll see him tomorrow on our season premiere!

suaveitguy24 karma

You were an early, early anchor on cable sports TV. (Starting on TSN in 1984.) What was it like to produce in the days of complicated satellite hookups and analog videotapes vs. today?

heylandsberg55 karma

I was a talking head with big hair. So none of that was my concern.

johnnynoname1223 karma

You admitted during a interview with ric flair that you weren't really a big wrestling fan

...however in my mind you are on of the best pro wrestling journalists in the business. I would assume that you would have some sort of great passion for the sport given how great you are at your interviews

So how can you be so good at being a wrestling journalist without really being a huge fan of the product?

heylandsberg62 karma

First off - not being a fan makes me far more objective. Secondly, while I wasn't a huge fan of the sport, I was fascinated by the culture. And thirdly, ok I lied. A bit. I was a fan.

15chainz23 karma

Michael, what's your opinion on CM Punk and your interview with him? Also how do you think he will do in his debut UFC fight?

heylandsberg75 karma

I thought all my questions were fair. Is there anything wrong with asking a wrestler whether he's ever taken a real punch to the face? Is there anything wrong with asking a guy who has criticized the company severely whether or not it's uncomfortable for his wife to work at that company? Tell me is there anything wrong with that?

15chainz19 karma

Was the interview always supposed to be open topic? because Punk seemed like he thought it was going to be UFC specific

heylandsberg73 karma

I thought it was open. We had no discussions beforehand. None. We asked his weight division, when he was fighting, who he would fight, who he might fight, and the answer was always "no one knows". So what UFC questions could you really ask?

asoiahats23 karma

What's your Grey Cup prediction?

heylandsberg43 karma

Calgary - Hamilton.

JTB4MOD22 karma

What was the closest you've came to getting smacked through provoking a guest?

heylandsberg73 karma

Probably John McEnroe. On a court at Casino Rama. I honestly thought there was a chance. Too bad, I coulda taken him. Lol.

ocean_spray19 karma

How important is it for Veterans, or anyone with depression really, to seek out peers who've undergone similar experiences?

Additionally, do you favor alternative therapies (meditation, marijuana, MDMA, mushrooms) over pharmacological solutions?

heylandsberg27 karma

For your first question, absolutely. Being surrounded by people who understand you and won't judge you is HUGELY liberating. Secondly, I believe in anything that might help.

suaveitguy19 karma

What are the challenges in booking a guest in/around Toronto? Yours and The Hour with Strombo have been a couple shows that have raised the bar. What is the secret?

heylandsberg27 karma

Mostly, it's to treat people with respect. And you show respect to people by researching them, and asking questions that they perceive as thoughtful.

kissinKyle18 karma

Who would win in a fight between you and O-Dog?

heylandsberg60 karma

O-Dog would win because the taco stains on his shirt would cause me to lose my grip.

ToiletPainter15 karma

Hey Michael,

Who is your favorite personality that has worked on TSN?

heylandsberg30 karma

Rod Smith. There's no replacing a deep voice and big hands. Honestly, love the man.

pleaseluv15 karma

Hi Michael I think it is so Great that you lend you name and time to the cause of raising metal health awareness, thank you

there is a certain parallel that so many of the tough guys of sports, who are now suffering brain injuries that lead to metal health issues, when they themselves were often bullies and psychological abusers in the sport (not necessarily, but possibly outside the game as well).

Is it sometimes hard to ratify the mental image you have of these tough guys you have in your mind, with sometimes very vulnerable individuals who are suffering, in front of you in the studio? How has that changed your perception of violence in sport?

heylandsberg23 karma

Most of the tough guys that I know were not tough off the ice when they played, so your perception of them was never the way I saw them. Really, likely the group of guys that I liked the most in any sport have been the NHL tough guys.

eflemingo1715 karma

If you had five minutes to create the world's most disgusting burrito and everything in the world was at your disposal, how would you create the burrito?

heylandsberg77 karma

Burrito filled with tomatoes. I'm sick thinking about it...but not weak.

rbarton81214 karma

You've had plenty of WWE Superstars on your show over the years; was there any 1 in particular that was difficult to obtain or flat out refused? Any one that went on the show and was overly-confrontational?

heylandsberg51 karma

First off, there's no such thing as overly confrontational. Confrontational is the BEST part of this job...bitch. (kidding) Stone Cold was likely the biggest challenge. One of the smartest guys you'll meet. Loved Vince. Never got hurt feelings, no mater what I asked.

Krapshoot14 karma

What got you to where you are today?

heylandsberg19 karma

One thing. Hard work. Practice, practice, practice. Just like playing a musical instrument. The only way to get decent, is to do it. Oh yeah, one more thing - make everything you do unique to you.

thedsizzle13 karma

First off, thank you for all the mental health advocacy you do! I have suffered from bipolar disorder for almost 10 years now and strongly believe that I lost my last job because of it. What steps, over and above general awareness, do you think might help end the stigma in the workplace?

heylandsberg18 karma

The key to reducing the stigma everywhere is dialogue. We need to make it part of the conversation. What we don't talk about, we don't understand.

thedsizzle10 karma

Thanks. Just wondering if you have any ideas as to how to get the dialogue started in the workplace given the added fear of losing your job if it does not go well?

heylandsberg15 karma

I would say it's management's job to start an maintain the dialogue. If they aren't willing to do it, then we all have a real problem. Whatever YOU say, say it with strength. If you act like you have something to be ashamed of, then people will see you as weak.

MWeezy0412 karma

Who are a few names of guests that you have been trying to get on OTR but have not been able to? and why?

heylandsberg43 karma

CM Punk in a return. Why? Because he thinks I'm a jerk. Tried for Phil Kessel knowing this is the LAST place he'd wanna be. But I really wanted to understand him ad get to know him a bit better.

Shadft11 karma

Hey Landsberg!

Me and my dad have been watching your show for almost two decades now, and we keep tuning in together because you're by far the one guy on TSN who is least afraid to ask your guests tough questions and let your panels talk about controversial issues.

I remember recently there was a big argument about Caitlyn Jenner, and you let your guests argue their position, even if it was totally offensive and you disagreed.

Some of your regulars make for great television, but you clearly know that they aren't always the most "politically correct." Was there ever a particular time where you felt like the conversation got too political, or that a guest said something so bad that it upset you or you couldn't air it?

heylandsberg19 karma

It's happened a few times. The threshold is not whether or not I agree, or whether I am personally offended. The threshold is whether we as a team feel it is 'destructive'. By that I mean inciting hate, or belittling a group. By the way, what's politically incorrect on OTR is irrelevant.

jdflyer9 karma

How good of friends are you and Chael off screen? You guys have I'm pretty sure the best interviews I've seen between any anchor and athlete.

heylandsberg16 karma

That's awesome! Thanks so much, To be honest, any idiot could do a good interview with Chael. He's that good. We're friends. Not best friends, but friends. I told him last week that the best things about him, no one ever gets to see.

suaveitguy9 karma

Can a sports broadcaster fake their love/knowledge of sports, the way newsreaders can? Ever known any that could?

heylandsberg19 karma

I've known many fakers, but none that could fool the people they wanted to fool (big sports fans). Talking sports is a language.

OptimusNog8 karma

Hey Michael!

I used to see you all the time at Delisle Goodlife Fitness. I hated to see them close that location down, they had the best steam room in the city!

My Question: What is your favorite part/perk of your job?

Congrats on your 19th season and #SicknotWeak

heylandsberg26 karma

The OTR steam room. Towels not mandatory.

GFY_EH8 karma

Would you rather fight one horse sized dutchy (this is, in reality, a dutchy sized dutchy) or 100 duck sized dutchy's?

heylandsberg19 karma

I actually already have fought one horse sized Dutchy. It didn't go well for me. His mitts are pretty good.

donniemills7 karma

Look back on how mental health was approached 20 years ago and then use your crystal ball to tell us how it will be approached 20 years from now.

Thanks for this, even though I love to hate your on air persona (is it a persona?)

heylandsberg24 karma

Forget about 20 years. 5 years from now we will never hear the term 'mental illness'. It's biased, pejorative, and damaging. Why is my depression called a mental illness, and my friend's Parkinson's called a brain disease? Keep on hatin'.

Tom_thefavorite_son7 karma

Will you ever bring back Tracy Mcgrady and Vince Carter (+Charles Oakley) to a live interview?

I know the last time was during a video broadcast but to have them all in the same room would be pretty awesome.

heylandsberg15 karma

I would do that in a heartbeat. Are you kidding?! When Vince retires, guaranteed.

hatcherhullmodano7 karma

Mike, if depression is clearly rooted in someone's life circumstances, do you still consider it a sickness? Or is this distinction reserved for people who seemingly should be happy but aren't?

heylandsberg19 karma

If life circumstances change our brain chemistry, then of course it's still an illness.

diskhead15 karma

Is Patrick Kane guilty?

heylandsberg39 karma

No, he's innocent, until proven guilty. So I'm going with innocent for now.

coolhand595 karma

Thanks Michael for the AMA. I've always enjoyed your work

For a while, I've struggled with on again / off again depression.The biggest struggle is wanting to be open with the struggles and get help, but worried about the stigma's and potential impact on the career it might have.

Based off this few lines of text, where would you think the best place to start is?

heylandsberg7 karma

The best place to start is with you. If you believe the stigma, then others will believe it about you. Learn that you are sick, not weak.

DJ_Molten_Lava4 karma

Your run with Brendan Connor on Sportsdesk was the greatest anchor duo in TSN's history. How would you feel about doing a throwback with you two back together for one more highlight package?

heylandsberg9 karma

I would do that any time. Any day. Any where. Assuming I still remember how to wear a tie. By the way, greatest duo? Nah.

explodingbarrels4 karma

Hi Michael

Big fan of your work since back in the Sportsdesk days and love OTR when I can see it (currently living state-side). I work in mental health and I'm so happy that you're championing this cause north of the border. So I have two questions about that subject.

1) In your interactions with Canadian mental health professionals and advocates, what's your sense of what they see as the most important issues/problems in that area? Is it stigma? Access to services? Quality of services? Something else?

2) If you could get one of the major leagues (using the NHL as an example) to rally behind a single cause or message related to mental health, what would you want that to be?

Forgive me if you've answered these on prior AMAs or on OTR/other media and I've missed it. Looking forward to your responses!

heylandsberg12 karma

1) Those are all hugely relevant. But stigma is the thing that people like me can help with.

2) One message? Mental health problems are never, ever, EVER about weakness. Remember, #SickNotWeak

Marlboro_Gold2 karma


heylandsberg7 karma

I'm not entirely sure how to answer this, as the system is very different between the U.S. and Canada. But a believe that what we can all do is talk.

ImAlexTrebec-9 karma

Why don't you actually report news?

heylandsberg16 karma

Because I'm actually not a news reporter.

RMF_-12 karma

Toronto: shitty city, or shittiest city?

heylandsberg18 karma

Something tells me you live in a town that feels inferior, but acts superior.