This blog already has an “About” section, but it’s outdated to where it doesn’t even mention when I started working my first full-time job in 2013. As of today, I am a free agent. I thank Aaron Schatz for giving me the opportunity, and I wish him and the other writers the best going forward.
If you told me I would get fired over something involving Twitter and Patriots fans, I could have believed it. I just would have assumed it would be something that happens in the moment rather than tweets primarily from 2012-13 back when I was a freelancer. Now I’m sitting here, on one of the coldest days temperature wise in my 32 years, to write what really is the most important thing I’ve ever written. Some may advise this is a bad idea, but I only know one way to defend myself, and that is to be brutally honest, transparent, and state my case. I’ve been silent long enough.
Three paragraphs in and a lot of you probably still don’t know what’s going on, which is a huge source of my frustration here. On Wednesday afternoon (1/30), I was alerted that old tweets of mine were collected in screenshots on Twitter from members of “BJBSJ,” a news outlet that doesn’t even have a website. I’ll let one of them explain what their service is:
In other words, they are Patriots fans with an ax to grind as I already had several of the people involved Muted before Wednesday. That means past interactions didn’t go well with these people. I’ve gotten into it with Patriots fans online for 15 years, but this group is particularly obsessed with ending people who view their favorite sports teams differently. Their leader, Craig Bernard, is a self-called “Bountyhunter” and is no stranger to calling people c*nts and pedophiles online (I can screenshot too in case he deletes). Here’s a series of tweets from him on Wednesday where he confirms no fewer than six people dug through my nearly 140,000 tweets since 2011 to pick out about 16 bits of (in their eyes) racist gold. He also refers to me as “Kochsmear,” which I’ve grown used to seeing (or Cocksmear) from those who don’t like me online over the years. It’s just amusing to see it here as this was clearly a smear job as he implored someone at Barstool to run with their attack.
On Thursday (1/31), Black Sports Online (BSO) ran with the story, for which I was never contacted for comment. BSO has the tweets in there, but I will get to them all below shortly. None of the tweets had any racial slurs or threats, but some of the tweets were absolutely cringeworthy and I’m ashamed and embarrassed to have my name attached to them. If I had a do-over, I never would have made them, but I did and here we are and that’s far from the last time I’ll own up to them here. Please read along to the end.
I needed to write an apology, but that proved to be more difficult than imagined. Normally, when you offend someone, it’s easy to be direct and offer them a sincere apology. Here, I was trying to write an apology that I would float into the void on my Twitter account over a situation most were completely unaware of (BJBSJ’s not exactly CNN). Looking at what other media members have gone through when they apologized for something, some people will always complain regardless, but this is what I posted and it didn’t go over too well. It certainly wasn’t as detailed as I wanted it to be, but they were all my own words.
Readers didn’t like the “if anyone feels offended, I apologize” part. I understand that, but the problem I ran into there was I didn’t know who the people I was apologizing to were, and I know that not everyone is going to be offended by it as I’ve heard back on Twitter. Trying to apologize for something hardly anyone knows about, and where a lot of people might not even care is not an easy thing to do.
The part that aggravates me more than anything is that these BJBSJ people are not offended by the tweets they exposed. They’re offended by the tweets I’ve made over the years, including this week, about the New England Patriots, their team. That’s why it was such a connected network of Patriots fans that continued to push this story on this week and harass the companies involved over doing something about it. Again, many of the people replying I already had blocked or muted before this started, and several were even followers of mine I had muted. These people were out for blood and I guess they got it for the time being.
If you don’t know me, you should know that I have a longstanding feud with Patriots fans about their team’s place in history. I back up what I say with stats on Twitter and in countless articles, and I’ve never let it interfere with my work as you can see if you look at the last piece I co-wrote — at least I ended the tenure with strong work — where the Patriots got a push over the Rams to win this Sunday. But these people are obsessed enough with someone critical of their team that they’ll do this during the week their team is in the Super Bowl. That’s the kind of petty society we live in today where people can disagree with you on sports or politics and try to ruin you. I’ve had it attempted before with a Trump supporter who didn’t like my Ivanka joke in 2017, yet her own timeline revealed an incest joke about having sex with someone’s aunt. These people are hypocrites at best and deplorable at worst, yet get enough of them together to fake outrage and they’ll mess your life up.
I’m suddenly billed as a racist because that’s the most convenient way to get rid of me in 2019, facts be damned. Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows that is bullshit. As I said in the apology, I acknowledge that I have a history of bringing up race on Twitter, but it’s always been in a quirky, comedic way, and never about hatred or indifference. Here are examples of some tweets that were not brought up this week that I do not feel ashamed about posting:
Have I ever pushed the envelope of decency on Twitter before? Yes. But if I was getting a lot of negative reactions from these tweets, then clearly I wouldn’t be making them. But I thought this was all in good, harmless fun. Clearly I do bring up race more than the average 30-something white guy, but show me where it’s ever been out of hatred. I also have shown I’ll change when I know someone is offended. I used to have “Lover of spreadsheets and Japanese women” in my Twitter bio for a couple of years. After seeing complaints about that, I realized that needed removed and I needed to be more professional. I’m not always tone deaf on these matters. If someone (especially a woman) lets me know that was creepy, then I’m going to fix it.
Now for the tweets in question, which were posted by @dontaboomhauer (formerly @designatedkyle). I’ll go through them the best I can to explain my thought process. Sometimes, there simply is no explanation other than I was fucking stupid to post that, but I also hope that with some of these you’ll see just how much these people stretched to paint me as something I’m not.
Top two – I have made many tweets over the years about fireworks in my neighborhood, typically on 4th of July and New Year’s. I was doing it to start this month even. For the 2012 tweet about fireworks in the ghetto, I apologize for that. I meant no harm. I see how “ghetto” can take on a negative racial connotation that I didn’t consider at the time, but I assure you that’s not how I view it. I just tweeted the word ghetto in November 2018 to describe old CD-Rs that were generic. In 2016 I described the Gallagher family on Shameless as ghetto (they’re white if you haven’t seen the show). I’ve lived in an impoverished area my whole life. While it is predominantly African-American, I’ve had neighbors of all races. The biggest offenders for the fireworks have actually been a white family nearby. I had nothing racial in mind when I made that tweet, and the same can be said about the section 8 tweet because “ghetto” and “section 8” are not racial things in my eyes. Again, there is section 8 housing right next to me and the tenants (always of varying races) are a revolving door. This was 4th of July 2016, so it’s more recent when I clearly had a full-time job and good-sized following. Again, I understand the optics can look racially bad to some, but the context I have on my neighborhood is something I should have communicated better to not offend anyone. In the end, I shouldn’t have done either tweet and just commented on my general dislike of 4th of July, as I did in 2015. I’m sorry.
Bottom two – I deeply regret posting these in 2012-13. The first with the “darkest part of Africa” was a reference to Akeem, a white wrestler created out of stereotypical WWF of the 1980s. That was probably the year I was watching old wrestling stuff on Youtube with my friend and laughing at that line in his intro as they introduced him from there. Why would I tweet it to bring up quarterback Browning Nagle apparently getting his jerseys delivered like they do with jerseys people don’t want (SB losers and such)? I don’t know. It was a pathetic joke in poor taste. I’m sorry. The black people’s BBQ tweet, that’s confused me for over 24 hours now. I have no idea what #KGC is. Kentucky Grilled Chicken? All I can think of is I saw a commercial for the movie Grown Ups 2 and commented that I’d rather watch my neighbors cook on the porch than that movie. It was a knock on the movie only, but I apologize for needlessly bringing up black people there. The whole thing never should have been tweeted as it’s not funny or necessary. I’m sorry.
Top two – On calling the 90s NBA low-scoring era “thug ball DEF” in 2014, I clearly screwed up. That’s a case of me being tone deaf on how that word thug can be associated negatively to the African-American players. I need to do better and I think I have in regards to using (or not using) that word. As for the other tweet, I’m disgusted with myself for thinking “a decent portion of blacks” was acceptable to type. I apologize. 2014 was a year I got into some heated debates about whether or not Redskins should change their team name, and that was a poor choice of words. I’m sorry.
Bottom two – the one on the right is where I again mentioned that I live in a ghetto area, which I already explained is not a racial term for me, but I apologize if you feel differently. We’ll just have to agree to disagree there. As for the Adam & Eve tweet, that was one where I clearly knew I was pushing the envelope, but that was due to starting a creationism vs. evolution debate, a touchy subject for sure. But again, that was me in 2014 referring to “blacks,” and that’s just simply not good enough from me. That’s another area where I feel like I’ve made strides to be better in addressing people more respectfully. I’m sorry I didn’t get there sooner in life, but I truly meant nothing racially insensitive there. Religion? That’s a different story, and that was the target of the tweet.
Top 2 – Inception 2 was another poor joke in bad taste that I want to apologize for. It doesn’t even really make sense. So stupid. As for Rajon Rondo being a thug, again, that’s a situation where I need to just stick with “prick” or something that can’t have a racial overtone to it. I’m sorry, and as I mentioned in the previous section, I have gotten smarter to avoid using that word.
2/5 UPDATE: I’ve realized that it helps to read the whole thread for context on some of these tweets. I was asked why I didn’t like Rondo, and that’s when I called him a little thug. When someone mentioned him as a role model (that person’s tweet since deleted), I strongly disagreed and I said I heard him call players the n-word on multiple occasions. So it doesn’t make any sense that I would use “thug” as a substitution for the n-word when my basis for calling him a “thug” was his use of the n-word. So call me tone deaf if you want, but I was not being racial with this tweet.
Bottom 2 – I refuse to apologize for this reach. I did a Bleacher Report article in 2013 about where NFL players were from and I just used Africa as a country in the table so it’d be easier to read. This article was approved by my editor and no one had any racial insensitivity problems with it until this attempt to ruin me. You can question my understanding of geography (country vs. continent), but I have nothing to apologize for there.
There’s the aforementioned Akeem wrestler. Yeah, I used the word “jive” to describe a white wrestler who thought he was from Africa and liked to dance. I’m not sorry for that. As for referring to the Steelers backup quarterbacks as “brothers” behind Ben Roethlisberger (with a list afterwards), I apologize if anyone is offended by that. Again, maybe I’m too comfortable with using a word like that given where I’ve grown up and the people/culture I’ve grown up with. That’s definitely something I’ll think about going forward, but if you think this was a post of hatred, then I apologize. That wasn’t my intent at all. Hell, I’d have welcomed most black quarterbacks over Landry Jones.
2/3 UPDATE: I just realized the thread in question for that tweet started with me talking about how it seems impossible a team could go 93 seasons without starting a black QB. Then I was asked about which team’s used the most, so that led to my comment about the Steelers.
Top 2 – Honda commercial. I’m not going to bother trying to find it to watch it again, but there was some commercial in 2012 where I made a poor attempt at humor. Trying to pass the time during a live sporting event (island games) by making jokes about commercials is something I need to give up on, or at least make sure I’m not being offensive before I hit send. That was the situation leading to a few of these embarrassing tweets. For this one, the target of the joke was the corny white family owning a slave. I can’t believe I have to say this, but I do not approve of slavery and I apologize for making such a stupid tweet.
As for the Oscars tweet, that was right after it ended in 2014, a big night for 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, hence my comment about slaves and space. As for AIDS, that’s just a well-known movie joke that if you play a character with a terminal disease (such as Tom Hanks in Philadelphia with AIDS) then you have a great shot at winning Oscars. I do not regret that tweet, though that doesn’t mean I’m not compassionate for people battling terrible diseases. It was just a movie joke, and if you know my Twitter, you know I watch a ton of movies and TV and talk about them.
Bottom 2 – Again, there were debates about the Redskins changing their name that year that I acted like a douche in. I apologize for that, and I actually recall writing some type of apology back then when it happened. I can’t find it at this time, but again, I am sorry for not being more open minded about this debate as my views have changed since 2014.
Also, there was a 2013 tweet I’m going to delete where I said “It’s ridiculous. And it’s gotten worse so quickly. Saying “retard” was no big thing growing up. Now? They practically ban it.” This isn’t at all race related, but it’s as bad as anything I’ve gone over so far. I have to do better than that, and I will say that’s not a word I use anymore and I have moved it to “r-word” territory when I discuss it now. I’m sorry for that tweet.
Okay, the five shopping days left in Black History Month from 2012 was atrocious. What does that even mean? I don’t know, but it’s stupid, not funny, and I deeply regret posting such a bad joke. As for the Steelers backup QB stuff in 2012, again, I clearly have continued to make tweets for years about players being black or white. Yes, just being. No hatred or indifference about it. So at worst that was just a bad joke, though also pretty true since they did sign a ton of black quarterbacks in that era. Finally, when I say Charlie Batch is black and we come from the same hood, it’s because he is, and we do. I grew up in the same neighborhood he did, went to the same school, and he’s owned property right across the street before. I was replying there to someone asking if he was black or mixed race. I don’t see how this could be an offensive tweet, and if Charlie wants to reach out to me to talk about everything here, I’d really appreciate that since I am a fan of his.
Left – Yes, in 2017 I was in the kitchen with my mom. All of a sudden I saw a kid sprinting through the yard and a cop was giving chase. I don’t know what ever came of it. That’s one of those things you don’t see every day, so in this social media era where we cover everything in our lives, I made a tweet. I understand that identifying him as “black kid” can look bad, but I meant nothing offensive there. The kid literally was a black kid. Had he been white, I still likely would have said “white kid” since that too would be unusual to see running through my yard on what is generally a dead street. So maybe this is an area where I need work, because I would still say things like “white running back” or “black kicker” too. That’s race; not racism in my opinion, as I’m just using those words as identifiers and nothing more. But maybe I need to have a talk with people on this specific topic to understand a different viewpoint.
As for the tweet about First Take in 2013 with Skip Bayless and Stephen A., I think that’s another absurd reach. I said nothing about race, and at that time, Skip (old white guy) was the most irritating part of that show. All I said was they speak loud, dumb garbage and I’m not taking it back. Now the other tweet in 2013 about running a train on a girl (she was legal age at least; I’m not that sick) in a KFC commercial, I absolutely apologize for being a sexist pig there. That should have never been tweeted.
Finally, there’s the Fat Albert Christmas Special, which I watched right before Christmas in 2012, the first year I had Netflix and was looking for something Christmas-y. I tweeted what the literal plot (see IMDb) of the special was and that’s that. That’s not even a joke tweet, hence the “I kid you not.” We’re all doomed if a tweet like that needs apologized for. It was actually my second tweet about the special as I first pointed out the stereotypical writing to call the Scrooge character “Mr. Tyrone.” Again, I have no hope for our future if this Fat Albert stuff is considered problematic.
That concludes the run this group put out and BSO published. That’s what they dished out on me through almost eight years and nearly 140,000 tweets. I’ve given you my honest explanations. I’ve been contrite and accountable when I know I fucked up, and I’ve defended myself where I felt it was deserved. I don’t know what more I can say about these tweets. If you still think I’m racist and want to unfollow, that’s your decision. I can only offer my viewpoints and hope that the interactions I’ve had with people over the years show that I am not that kind of person, though I am admittedly a flawed human being. Based on what I’ve seen from the lynch mob that got me, they are too.
It is all an eye-opening experience of how to conduct yourself on social media in this era where people with nothing better to do can set out to ruin you. Covering sports will naturally paint you as a target, but if you mix in personal stuff with professional, you better be on your toes about what you put out there. I wasn’t good enough in that area in the past, and now I just hope I get a shot at doing so in the future.
It is extra painful to be labeled something you know you’re not by people who only have an interest in destroying you. I’ve barely eaten in two days as I’ve tried to follow along, largely limited to silence, at this ordeal. People who don’t know anything about me aside from that collection of tweets now have a label for me that I know I don’t deserve. I’ve seen someone say “this is the kind of person that gets to write off Kaepernick.” Really? I wrote an article in 2017 that was in such support of Kaepernick being blackballed that the findings in it are going to be used by his legal team in his collusion case. Also, I have been a staunch anti-Trump person and have called him out for racism countless times. So if you lump me in with MAGA you couldn’t be any more off base.
BJBSJ framing my thoughts on race and diversity is a joke when these people only care that I write negative things about the Patriots. From my friendships to relationships to work contacts, I have never had any problems with race or diversity. I hired multiple interns each year and I hired people from different races and backgrounds, always trying to give someone a shot to get their foot in the door. I hired a female intern, which I think was a first. I’ve helped people advance pretty far in this field, and I’ve given advice to countless writers and shared data with others in need of help. Have I always been courteous with everyone I encounter on Twitter? No, but I usually go by a policy of treating you with the respect you treat me. I’ve had death threats and salacious shit thrown at me over the years and I didn’t snap on those people to lose everything.
While I know I’ve screwed up on some things, I know I’m not alone there. I’m also well aware of what I did compared to other sports media people who recently had instances of old tweets using racial slurs or new racist imagery in cartoons. To my knowledge, none of those people lost their jobs, and Jourdan Rodrigue was allegedly just suspended. I’ve also heard about Mike Loyko this week, and I don’t know what’s happened to him, but good lord his old tweets were vile. My intentions were only humor, not hatred.
Where do I go from here? I don’t know, but my first thought is about my health insurance. I still take an important blood thinner, which I may need to pay out of pocket for. As for what comes after that, I’m not sure. I still want to cover football. I think the upcoming years could be really good with the young players emerging in the league. I tried last year to move on to a different company, but that didn’t work out. The scarcity of jobs like the one I had was always a frightening fact I tried to bury deep in my mind. There was really never a backup plan.
So that’s my story. The details of the next chapter are a complete unknown right now, but I know I want to write. I also want to offer one final apology to any readers I have let down with all of this. The readers helped me get my last job, and I can only hope to still have the support of people who take an interest in what I say, respect my effort and passion, and accept me for the flawed individual I am. I know I’ll never be good enough for some people, but I never set out to please everyone. There will always be haters and detractors, but I will never put myself in this position again to let them destroy the life I worked hard for.