A lasting presence at TSN, Landsberg, 58, hosted the long-standing show, Off the Record, for 18 years
I never hid it. From 1998, people that I worked with knew, my family knew, friends knew.
I never spoke about it on television because I never thought there was a value. I thought it would be, literally, 'Oh, who cares about your problems, Michael? Why are you telling us that?' I had no idea the power of sharing.
I had no idea just by hearing someone, especially someone you recognize, talk about it without shame and embarrassment and without sounding weak, that you could inspire change in other people. I didn't realize that until after the show was broadcast and I checked the inbox for e-mails.
I got an e-mail from a viewer saying, 'You don't remember me,' – and I did remember him – 'but what you didn't know was just how deep in the hole I was. It wasn't until we had that conversation that I realized I hadn't ever gone for help and maybe there was help. It saved my life.'
That changed my life. I found the power I had.
I have been off meds four times and each time fell back into the deep, dark hole of depression. At a certain point you don't say, 'I'm cured.'
If your best days are 10 and your worst days are zero, on medication my best days are seven and my worst days are four. So my bad times now are at least tolerable. And I'll never be off medication.
I have hosted 300 shows with severe depression. Anything else that I've done in terms of being a challenge isn't even in the same ballpark.
I went off meds several times, which proved to be an enormous mistake.
I'm a guy who walks through the halls saying hello to everyone. I would know I was really bad when I would go outside to avoid seeing everyone, to not see a human being.
The first week we were on the air we had Bret Hart on the show. I didn't know anything about what we were doing at the time. Bret Hart was talking not as the Hit Man [his wrestling persona], he was talking as Bret Hart.
Somehow, Vince McMahon decided he liked it. TSN was broadcasting Raw at that time so there was a relationship with the WWF. They came to us and essentially said you can have our entire roster. You can interview The Rock as Dwayne Johnson, you can interview Steve Austin as, I forget what his name was. So we had all these people out of character. For some it's still the only time they've ever done it.
It became huge for us, with ratings that were insane. It put us on the map. Bret Hart put us on the map.
To this day, once every two or three days, someone will tweet, 'Hey Michael, can you put up the wrestling shows?' And we haven't done one in so long. We probably did six a year, tops. The reason why these interviews became so legendary in the wrestling community, and I can say this with entire humility, which sounds funny because I'm saying something I did was legendary, was because of Jeff Marek and Bob Mackowycz. I had nothing to do with what made them great.
I had nothing to do with it. I didn't even watch wrestling. It's funny because people still to this day stop me in the street and say, 'Hey, Mike, you love your wrestling, don't you?' Sometimes I go, 'No, actually I was never into it, I never watched it, I never liked it.'
Honest to God, I didn't know who Stone Cold was when we booked him. They said Steve Austin and I thought Six Million Dollar Man? We booked the Six Million Dollar Man?
I found out early on I was better in the studio as a host than I was as a play-by-play person. I also realized one of the things that is a marker for maturity is realizing what you're good at and what you're not good at.
I've never been a person to make rash decisions. I never felt like I had something to prove, not like a lot of guys who decide, 'I've got to do something bigger and better or I've got to go to the United States.' I always was content with doing a job I wanted to do. For me, it was about the job more than anything else. My wife and I wanted to bring up our kids in Toronto and Canada.
Most guys who've done this job have been fired once or twice. I've never been fired because I'm the last guy who's going to give you trouble. I'm not knocking on the boss's door and asking for something. I just do my job and for that reason, if you're an employer, you go, 'Hey, this is the guy I should be loyal to.'
I have my father's sense of genuineness and his sense of treating the people around me the way I want to be treated. I think if you were to poll the people I worked with over the years the vast majority would say, 'Yeah, he's a good guy.'
Fear plays a role for me, that I'm very protective of giving up something I like for the unknown. I hear words I counselled others on, saying if you really like your job you've got to be really, really careful not to give it up for something that might be better because there's a pretty good chance you won't really, really like it.
Could I have got a job in the U.S. doing local sports? Yeah, I'm sure I could have. But could I have got a job as good as the one I have here in a much more competitive environment? The answer is probably not. I'm not as good as the guys you see doing my job on ESPN.
- As told to David Shoalts