I resigned from Deadspin today. No more Funbag questions. No more Jamboroos. No more telling you why your team, and your children’s television program, and the St. Louis Cardinals, and Christmas catalogs, and mayonnaise all suck. At least, not here (or there, I should say; I no longer have posting privileges at Deadspin proper, and so I gotta post this to this here). Nothing stopping me from taking those toys elsewhere. But alas, the time has come for you and me to part ways here at this particular corner of the internet.
I learned about this place from Sports Illustrated. That was 14 years ago. Holy shit. I read a short item about Deadspin in an SI print edition, logged on, and felt as if I had been waiting to discover this place my whole life. I was a commenter at Deadspin first. Then, in 2007, Leitch let me start the Jamboroo for a weekly freelance stipend. A few years later, AJ Daulerio took over and let me start the Funbag column (originally called Open Mailbag Tuesday, which was not terribly catchy) and do other regular freelance work on top of it. In 2012, Craggs managed to get me aboard full-time and this has been my internet home ever since. It’s been a good home. It bursts into flames roughly every four months, but that’s the risk you take when you’re firing off takes that are just THAT hot. I fisked my own kid’s Christmas wish list for this site. I took the SAT again. I fought a mirror. I wrote about my son almost dying. I wrote about being a deeply lonely and depressed college kid. I also wrote some truly nasty shit, much of which I am no longer terribly fond of.
And of course, the people of this site ended up literally saving my life less than a year ago, which makes me all the more heartbroken that I must now leave. I haven’t been back to New York since I nearly died. I wanted to surprise the rest of the staff in the office one day by bringing them cheesy bread. That’s not a joke. Julianne at Jez said they all love cheesy bread from the shithole Islanders bar near the old office, so I wanted to buy them some. But they’re all gone now, and so am I. I’ll still bring my friends that shitass bread one day, even though it will have been far too late by then.
It’s quite a thing when you find your favorite site in the world and then end up writing FOR that site. All the purply garbage that people spew when they’re waxing nostalgic about The National or some other late, lamented sportswriting collective… that was true of this place. This was the site that made everyone who read it want to start a site of their own. It can still be that place, if the people in charge cared to keep it that way. My exit—along with that of my colleagues—should tell you precisely how optimistic I am about them doing so.
I never knew this kind of job—cheerfully profane sports blogger at-large—could exist when I was a kid, pre-internet. But had I known, well then that’s what I would have dreamed about growing up to do. I’ll still dream about it, though perhaps now more in memory than in future ambition. Here is where I learned that there was true joy to be had in the grunt work of this dream gig, and I plan on taking that joy with me to new and fertile pastures. I am hardly alone in that plan.
I am not bullshitting you when I say that Deadspin’s voice shaped me far more than my voice shaped it. For over a decade, I’ve been the guy parachuting in every few days to yell YOU DICKHEADS at NFL owners before going back to my parenting duties. Meanwhile, a coterie of other writers, all with brilliant voices, helped mold the site into a place entirely its own, one I have loved to read top to bottom (though my now former colleagues will tell you that I always dropped news into the Slack after they had already posted about it, a practice they called “drewing” for years and years), and one that influenced me on a daily basis.
I have had five-and-a-half EICs in my time here. All six of those people shielded me from the bureaucratic and political horseshit that typically engulfs any media company, this one included. The last one and her hubby helped convince ER doctors that I was in mortal danger when those doctors didn’t think my life was in any danger at all. Her replacement kept us protected from all the garbage cascading down from the Great Hill front office until, at long last, none of us could keep at it bay.
I swear to god, if you knew the OCEAN of bullshit that these people—along with deputy editors, union reps, the astonishing Victor, and the art and video departments—had to hold back every day so that the rest of us could do what we did, and so that this place wouldn’t become stupefied in a way its detractors would just ADORE (but not enough to entice them to actually come read it), you’d buy them endless rounds. You know a bit about that right now, but not nearly all of it. Thanks to those aforementioned guardian angels, Deadspin remained Deadspin far longer than many of us thought it could. A decade ago, this site was on verge of getting demoted to the Yankees tag on Gawker. But it held on. It stuck.
That tenacity and that defiance won’t go away. They may drift to other places on the internet, but good fucking luck ever trying to snuff them out. Everyone who has ever worked here has felt some ownership of Deadspin, as have I. It’s a bitter truth that none of us have ever technically owned it. The one time I had some equity in this joint, a vampiric billionaire and a horny wrestler and and a braindead Florida jury all conspired to render it literally worthless. Now a private equity firm has finally come along to finish the job for good, and render Deadspin spiritually worthless.
But, like Gregg Williams’ coaching career, the spirit of Deadspin strangely cannot be killed. People bitched X PERSON RUINED DEADSPIN! nearly as many times as they’ve bitched about SNL being past its prime, and they were always wrong. And even if Deadspin.com itself gets butchered and then made over as Bleacher Report circa 2010, I’m gonna bring its vintage spirit with me wherever I end up, just as other Deadspin alums will take that spirit, and have taken it, with them anywhere THEY go. It lives on with Marchman at Vice, and with Puja at Pitchfork, and with Adler at The Athletic, and with my former colleagues at Sports Illustrated (Rohan, Emma, Sam, Dickey): the place that once birthed that spirit within generations prior, only to be ravaged by a separate but not terribly different band of white collar predators.
Today, it lives on with you. Once you get a taste for sports news without access, favor, or (nor?) discretion, it doesn’t go away. That is how this will work. That is how you and I will keep the joy afloat. You are told every day that the internet is a shitty place, and you are given, in a steady stream, ample and mounting evidence that proves it. But there’s a reason people stay online. I came here to eke a career out of yelling about things sucking, but I also came here to make a friend or two. And I did. More than I ever imagined, in fact…
Thank you for your support of Deadspin. You’ve been a wonderful audience and I send you out into the day wishing you peace and joy. We’re not done, you and I. We’ll see each other again.