NFL Week 5 Predictions: Sports Illustrated Edition

I was thinking about a theme this week in lieu of focusing on a Week 5 slate that may have shot its best shot on Thursday night (LAR-SEA). We could talk about Russell Wilson’s increasingly strong place in history, or I could dig into the dominance of road teams this season. Or I could bash the snot out of that awful 100 Greatest Games list from NFL Films, but I think I’ve already done enough of that on Twitter.

I could also talk about a 2003 parallel, the year I really got into football stats. That was when I found myself gaining much more interest in the Colts and Peyton Manning (especially after that Tampa Bay comeback) during a down year for the Steelers. It feels similar to me right now where the Steelers aren’t must-see TV and the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes absolutely are. I’m glad they’re on SNF tomorrow, because frankly there is nothing more exciting in this game right now than watching that offense operate. Without the Chiefs, my interest in football would be at its lowest since 2000 for sure.

So I ultimately landed on recapping where my interests in football analysis began and where they are now after a Red Wedding week for a former flagship franchise in sports journalism (Sports Illustrated).

Sports Illustrated –> Sports Informative

I’ve let this cat out of the bag a few times before, but my main motivation for getting into NFL analysis was to prove ex-jocks on TV wrong and to provide better, factual information to fans who deserved more than cliches and myths. That 2003 season in particular was a tough one to stomach when I’d turn on ESPN after school and listen to someone like Sean Salisbury spout nonsense about the likes of the Patriots, Colts and some of the other offense-driven teams at that time (Rams, Vikings, Chiefs). This was just about to begin an era of “The Patriot Way” and ring counting and “he’s so clutch!” taking over sports analysis. Maybe there was some of that in the 90s as well, but that was before my time frame of interest in the league.

The 2003 AFC Championship Game especially left a mark on me. Yes, Peyton Manning stunk in that game and threw four interceptions in snowy New England. It’s one of the worst games of his career and was especially disappointing after the way he played the position flawlessly the previous two weeks in the playoffs. But when the credit kept going to Tom Brady for the win, I wondered if I had watched the same game as everyone else. I saw Brady try to match Manning pick for pick only to see the Colts fail to complete those plays, or a Patriot receiver to break up a should-be interception. Both quarterbacks sucked that day, but as I came to learn, the mainstream narrative demands that the winner gets the praise while the loser choked. I mean, just watch this:

Never mind the fact that the NFL admitted to missing multiple calls on the Patriots’ defense for holding receivers on the final drive, the whole outcome and critique of that game just felt wrong to me. The Panthers also got pretty physical with the Eagles’ receivers later that day, prompting the league to remind officials that illegal contact has been a thing since 1978.

This was my senior year of high school and I’d soon be going to Pitt in 2004, a huge year for so many quarterbacks, including Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie year for the Steelers, Drew Brees’ breakout in San Diego, and Manning’s record-breaking year in Indy. The game was changing again after a weird transition period in 1999-2003 when quarterbacks were coming out of grocery stores, Canada, NFL Europe and the XFL to lead playoff victories while some legendary defenses really soared to Super Bowls. We were entering a new golden age of quarterback play, which even before statistical analysis I knew was the most important position because I was conditioned by Bill Cowher’s quarterbacks letting his team down in the postseason year after year. Thanks for getting me on the right path so early, Neil O’Donnell and Kordell Stewart.

I needed better analysis to complement my growing love of the game, and my own Excel sheets of game logs I started putting together in 2003 just weren’t cutting it. Fortunately, I began finding places like Pro Football Reference (and its blog), Football Outsiders, Cold Hard Football Facts, Brian Burke’s Advanced NFL Stats, and also Sports Illustrated’s website where I would read the likes of Peter King, Dr. Z (RIP) and Don Banks (RIP) while I was in college. My introduction to efficiency metrics (EPA, DVOA, WinProb) and better coverage of the game transformed my hobby into something significant while at school I was learning about linear regression and decision models.

I was now collecting more data, especially thanks to PFR, and in 2005 I began to chronicle all the 4QC and GWD attempts that eventually led to getting my foot in the door of this industry. I started recording games on VCR tape in 2005, bought a DVD recorder in 2006 to switch to DVD-Rs, and started downloading games via torrents in 2006 as well. I was amassing a large collection of data and video to analyze the game the way I knew it deserved, but alas I was just one person who only had time during school to closely examine a few teams (Steelers, Colts and Patriots in particular) each week. It also helped that I watched from 2005-2008 the Steelers win two Super Bowls, the Colts win one, and the undefeated Patriots lose one in spectacular fashion. That four-year stretch will probably never be topped in my life as far as fandom goes.

Late 2007 was when I was initially approached by PFR to sell data on QB starts that I had mentioned on a blog post that I was researching. This stuff just didn’t exist on the internet back then, but I started putting that together along with a database of coordinators and eventually traced all the comebacks and GWDs back to 1940 and sold that data to PFR where I also began to write blog posts in 2009. I made important contacts at that time and would get emails from writers from various big-name establishments (Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NY Times) to inquire about my comebacks data.

Around this time I had some pretty big dreams about how the future of NFL analysis should look with an emphasis on advanced stats created from game charting. In the early 2000s I would argue on message boards about things like air yards and passing under pressure, collecting whatever data I could find from SI’s website (usually provided by STATS LLC) on those splits. People thought I was crazy for caring about how far a pass was thrown, but I knew that was important information to differentiate performance. Now of course today we see it all the time with PFF, Next Gen Stats and the other innovations that have come along, many of which were things I talked about years ago like tracking time to throw, how long linemen hold their blocks, receiver separation, throws into tight windows, route types, etc.

I’m not saying I created modern analytics in the NFL, but I definitely knew what could be tracked with the right technology and big enough workforce to handle charting every play. Those days of blaming a QB’s OL for his tendency to hold the ball and take sacks should be over, but that’s a topic for another day.

Eventually in July 2011 I decided to take a chance writing about the NFL full time. Ten months later, I had an article that was featured on the front page of the SI website. No, it wasn’t in the print edition, but this was still a huge deal to me. In fact I still have a screenshot of the site with my article featured in a frame. Getting on SI seemed like the ultimate high in sports writing to me. I’m sad that the link no longer works, but I did find it on a web archive here. I’ll also add that SI paid over $500 for this piece, so I thought that was incredible for one article at a time when I was lucky to see $50 for my articles. When you just start out in this business, you know it’s hard to make anything and writing for free is common.

Of course, I probably should have known better than to enter an industry where Skip Bayless is paid more to yell hot takes than what some sites pay their writing staffs combined. It only seems to be getting worse too as countless sites have had to stop print media and have tried to pivot towards video or have dreaded “influencers” promote their brand. Yes, let’s hire someone who couldn’t get a role on a CW show to film a 90 second hot take to put on the ‘Gram instead of publishing a thoughtful piece people have to actually read. Is that really the future of sports journalism?

When news broke this week that, under new management, SI callously cut a large chunk of the full-time staff, I saw another nail in the coffin for the industry. I felt it personally too as SI was a place where I had someone put in a word for me this summer, but I never heard back. You can see why when they were in the process of selling and cutting jobs.

Sadly, from a financial standpoint I can see why companies are doing this. Why pay someone tens of thousands of dollars in salary when you can contract a few freelancers for peanuts to produce the same amount of content for a fraction of the cost? Is the work going to be as good? Probably not, but if it’s close enough and they promote it with a click-bait headline, then it’s probably going to work out just fine for the company. With so many people wanting a foot in the door, some freelancers are okay with peanuts as long as they’re being sold on “great chance for exposure” and “future opportunities available” along with that check that might pay their phone bill for one month.

I feel sick for even typing that paragraph as some executive vulture would likely nod in agreement as they see the dollars saved there.

This can be a brutal industry, and I am honestly reconsidering if I can stay involved with it. I’m already at a disadvantage because I want a job that is very specific and in very low supply:

  • I’m not a beat reporter or news breaker
  • I don’t live and breath fantasy football
  • I’m not a draft scout and spend very little time paying attention to college prospects
  • I want to cover the whole NFL rather than just one team
  • I want to write long, informative pieces and I may need to include a table or graphic that looks good on your mobile site

I also want to be able to work from home like I always have and I don’t want to move to CA, NY or CT (the most likely destinations). I recently asked about living in CA on a $75,000 salary and the results were overwhelmingly negative and that it would be too difficult. That was related to a screenwriting position. From my experience, sports media jobs aren’t paying $75k, so it would be even less than that, if not considerably less.

This summer I reached out to two big companies I’ve done well with before about a full-time position and I heard the same thing from both. The roster was filled for 2019, but I can pitch some one-off ideas to them. So you may see something from me on that front this season if things work out as I do have some studies I’ve been working on that I would love to complete.

But as far as full-time writing goes, that seems to be a position that is a dying breed. Companies always want content, but the willingness to pay the creators these days just isn’t what it used to be.

I would love to get a job where I have access to this new charting data and to try making sense of what that’s telling us, or to properly put into context just how ridiculous Patrick Mahomes has been through 22 games. But busting your ass on an article to make peanuts isn’t a sustainable way of life. So if you’re asking me what I’m writing this season, just keep following me on Twitter and what I decide to write here. Otherwise I truly don’t know what the future holds.

Maybe I need to go into business for myself and write books. If anyone has advice on that, I’d be glad to talk about it.

NFL Week 5 Predictions

Going all in on gambling sure doesn’t seem like a good option for me. I would have turned a profit last season going all in on my weekly bets, but this year has been off to a pretty brutal start. When the Raiders jumped up 14-0 on the Colts last week, I remarked that we must be insane to put real money on this league. Hockey seems like the smarter bet from my experience with its limited scoring.

2019Wk5

I almost wanted to pick Tampa Bay to win outright since it has had success in the Superdome before, but something about trusting Jameis Winston for a third straight week to play really well feels scary to me. I do know Teddy Bridgewater needs to show more than he has as the Saints try to win with such a limited offense.

Thankfully the Dolphins are on a bye, but the Jets return so we could have already eight games this season with a spread of at least 11 points thru Week 5. There were nine such games from 2015-2018 combined. This is not a good thing for the league.

2019Wk1-4

Fake Outrage, Real Consequences and Taking Your Life Back

This year has taught me that time does not heal everything. I experienced the two worst moments of my life in a span of seven weeks: I lost my writing job and I lost my grandmother. Prior to this year I had never been fired and I had never been to a funeral. Time does help with the loss of a loved one, especially when you feel like that person was lost years ago due to the way Parkinson’s and dementia destroy their body and mind. However, I think the only way to get over losing a job is to get another one. Sounds simple enough, but as any freelancer writer knows, finding a full-time job is difficult.

Worse, what happens when you were “cancelled” by an angry Twitter mob that was out for blood? That’s the goal for the worst people who engage in this toxic cancel culture that has swept through social media in recent years. The mob identifies a person as problematic, digs up things from their past, drums up outrage, pressures the person’s employer to fire them, and then celebrates the demise. Apologies aren’t even wanted, let alone accepted anymore. Forgiveness is a thing of the past.

They basically want you to cease to exist.

This is not hyperbole as I can prove. For the small-but-angry mob of Boston sports fans that took me down, they love to tell people to die. They tweeted I was a “confirmed kill” after I got fired and they’ve given me the “RIP” nod on their bio. Honestly, it’s hard to say I’ve been living since this happened, which is why I added a Radiohead lyric (“I’m not living, I’m just killing time”) to my Twitter bio in that time.

No matter how much these people prefer that I kill myself, I refuse to let them win. So this is proof that I still know how to research and write, because it’s been five months since I’ve done the things I built my career around. I don’t feel I can confidently move on until I tell the real story. Some people might criticize me for playing the role of a victim here, but the facts show that that’s exactly what I was, and people need to recognize that it can happen to you someday too. I also already held myself accountable for my past actions the day I was fired. It’s time I expose the other side. Any sensible person in my position would want to call this out for what it was: a coordinated character assassination.

I want my story to serve as a warning about the many dangers of social media and the destructive path we seem to be setting ourselves on.

Part I: Recap

My hopes are that this reaches many people who are unfamiliar with me, so allow me to provide some background info. It’s been almost ten years since I wrote my first internet article about football statistics. Writing about the NFL has been a full-time career for me, a Pittsburgh-based analyst, since the summer of 2011. My work has been featured in many places, including NFL Network, Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, USA Today, and ESPN. I do not specialize in clickbait, top 10 ranking pieces, or slideshows with a couple of sentences. My preference is for heavily researched, fact-based analysis, and sometimes that riles people up when the data doesn’t agree with their fandom.

Debate has always been something I’ve embraced, but I have noticed more vitriol on social media in recent years. My resistance to blocking people used to be strong, but that really started to change in 2016 when personal attacks and threats started intensifying. Most of the accounts I block are NFL fans that make things personal, and I also block a large volume of MAGA regardless if they have ever interacted with me. Consider it a preemptive measure as I have been very anti-Trump since the beginning. Anyone who tries to lump me in with that lot is sorely mistaken.

2011 was also when I joined Twitter where I have since made nearly 140,000 tweets. I’ve always run a personal account, meaning I am known to tweet much more than stats and links to my work. I admit to being brutally honest, I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I have a dark sense of humor, so a risqué joke is not out of character. No one would have to follow me for long to understand that, and as I’ve gotten older — I’m 33 now — and attracted a larger following, I’ve done a better job of knowing what’s appropriate for the masses. There’s a reason so many of my tweets used against me by the mob were from 2013 or older when I was a freelancer making peanuts.

Speaking of those tweets… I was fired on the Thursday (1/31/2019) before the Super Bowl after about 20 past tweets were collected and displayed on Twitter on Wednesday in a thread that claimed I have a problem with race. I want to reiterate that none of these tweets included racial or homophobic slurs, hate speech, or threats of violence. The only swear word in any of the tweets was a singular use of “bullshit.” The closest thing to a tweet coming in an argument was with another (white) writer as we were debating, quite civilly, about the Redskins changing the team name and if it was as offensive as the n-word. A couple of tweets about my disdain for illegal fireworks were highlighted, but I still believe that if you associate the words “ghetto” or “section 8” with a specific race, that says more about your prejudice problems than anything about me.

Some of the tweets were taken so badly out of context that I refuse to ever apologize for those ones, such as a 2014 Oscars joke tweet referencing big winners Gravity and 12 Years a Slave, or clarifying the use of Africa in an article about where NFL talent comes from. Some of the tweets made no direct or even indirect mention of race, such as when I called ESPN’s First Take (with Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith) “loud, dumb garbage” because all they literally did was scream bad arguments at each other. Other tweets they used ignored the tweets in the same thread that better explain what I was actually saying. For example, it’s supposed to look racist that I called NBA player Rajon Rondo a thug, yet the full thread actually shows that I didn’t respect him or view him as a role model because I heard him call players on the court the n-word several times. Rondo’s history before and since that 2013 tweet proves I was not out of line in criticizing his character.

Frankly, the passage of time has only frustrated me more that so many of these tweets were included and their meanings were manipulated to paint a false picture of me. That’s not to say there weren’t any past transgressions that I wanted to apologize for (and did), but this was clearly a smear job. I think insensitive would be the best way to describe the collection of my tweets. When you look at the type of posts that have gotten people fired on social media before, it’s usually something really nasty. If you want to see truly offensive tweets, scroll down to Part II.

Getting fired is not an experience you can really understand until you go through it. I couldn’t eat or sleep for a few days after this started. I did my best to write about it immediately on here. I wanted to hold myself accountable for my past and acknowledge where I had shortcomings in the language I used, where I’ve improved, where I was being railroaded by this angry mob, and where I still needed to improve. I was never going to sweep these tweets under a rug and move on quickly. I also made sure to defend my character and speak out against the absurd allegations that I’m a racist and have problems with diversity. Everything from my personal relationships to cultural interests shows otherwise.

In the heat of the moment on January 31, I did not spend much time writing about the group of Patriots/Boston sports fans that collected and posted my tweets. I learned quickly that they were crude people with a history of taunting and harassing me because I was critical of their team and quarterback. I knew they faked outrage over these tweets and pushed my employers to fire me, and it worked.

However, by the Saturday night before the Super Bowl, I had dug up so many tweets from these people that showed just how obsessed they were with ending me and how coordinated their plan was. Those discoveries made me feel worse than I did on the day I was actually fired.

Part II: Know Your Enemy

If you work in sports media, you are bound to develop enemies over time as sports fans are a passionate bunch. If you cover all 32 teams in this country’s most popular league (NFL), then that opens you up to venom from tens of millions of people.

Many Twitter users prefer to use the Mute function instead of a block just to let the person wear themselves out by screaming into the void at you. I used to be one of those people, but my story might make you reconsider which one is usually the right move. I’ve heard it from Patriots fans on the internet for many years, but I’ve never dealt with a group this demented before. I’ll also point out that I have worked for two bosses who are from the Boston area and are Patriots fans, but they always respected my work and the validity of my analysis. It’s fine for fans to disagree, but it’s shocking how petty some would be to get this personal over someone while their team was making a third-straight Super Bowl appearance. I had most of the mob muted when this blew up in January, so I was previously aware that these people were awful. I just didn’t fully realize the extent to which they were harassing me for well over a year until after I lost my job.

No one gets to vote for morality police, but imagine having your reputation in regards to race and diversity dictated by a group of white guys who love Boston. Lucky me. This mob is a tight-knit group of Boston sports fans who call themselves BJBSJ. In their own words: “BJBSJ is a news gathering association of concerned citizens designed to combat hottakes, specifically as it pertains to Boston sports.” At the end of January, I called them out for not having a website, so they have since created one where they just further prove they’re terrible people who hide behind internet anonymity where they can trash people with no consequences. Would any legitimate news site have their posts done by people who hide behind screennames instead of an actual byline?

BJBSJ has continuously harassed me since 2017 on Twitter. I don’t care about the petty digs they would send me after a Patriots win or Steelers loss, but their intentions got much darker in late 2018. Not once prior to January 30 did this mob accuse me of racism as their tweet history with me clearly shows they were sour over things I’ve said about the Patriots and especially their idol Tom Brady. You could easily argue that the origins of this entire beef trace back to a bunch of white, Boston sports fans who are upset that I will always say that Peyton Manning is a better quarterback than Tom Brady. It’s that petty. By having so many of these people muted for so long, I wasn’t even egging them on in arguments to deepen their hatred for me. They are just naturally hateful people as you will see.

This mob largely operates in the open, and they had no problem naming their cohorts on January 30 after they finished posting my old tweets. BJBSJ people like to refer to me as “Cocksmear” or “Kochsmear” to make fun of my last name (Kacsmar). All that does is make my researching efforts easier to find their old tweets, and I’m sure they’ll go on a deleting spree once they read this.

Imagine trying to write an apology for old tweets when you know the only “offended” people are faking their outrage and are actively harassing you while you’re doing it. That was the position I was in on January 30 when this started as you can see from those tweets from their “lead writer” Craig Bernard (@defnotGG).

But this didn’t start the week of the Super Bowl. As another mob member (@mrags316) points out, it was “Sal” who started this crusade against me.

The “Sal” here is referring to @sofascout1, who has since been suspended by Twitter. I didn’t even get the honor of reporting him, but his tweets from November 8, 2018 show what kind of sick people I was dealing with here:

Nice to know I was the head of the operation’s odds-on favorite to commit suicide after losing my job over the Patriots. Of course, it wasn’t anything football related that did me in. It was these people getting to rewrite the narrative of my thoughts on race and diversity. The same people who love to tweet to others that they should die or kill themselves.

@Ironhead334

The next person I want to focus on is @Ironhead334, because he was by far the most dedicated member of the BJBSJ mob to pressure my employers on Twitter to take action against me. He also has a larger following (over 3,000 people) than the others.

IH-P3

While he puts up a good act here, some simple digging into him showed that he’s just as rotten as the rest of them. If Ironhead wants to talk about my questionable pattern of behavior regarding race and diversity, let’s talk about his pattern of tweeting like a future spree shooter.

This is the kind of hate-fueled threat that often goes unnoticed on social media since the people who follow a guy like this are frequently similar-minded individuals. We already see the pattern with this mob is that they want people to die, and this tweet was hardly a one-off on a bad day. His combination of media + idiots to get “mediots” is what this group is all about: harassing and threatening media members they disagree with.

It’s disturbing and unnerving that people like this can ruin your reputation, yet nothing happens to them when they tweet things far worse than anything you did. Here’s a small collection of tweets from the BJBSJ mob, flaunting their brand of harassment to defend their sports team. Notice how they turn from their usual offensive selves to masking as concerned citizens when tweeting at my employers to pressure them into firing me.

“Patches” AKA @BankruptWebGoof AKA @36_Chambers_ (Jeff)

BJMISC2

Alex Basalyga

Basal-PRES

@14Grogan

@bron_y_aurstmp

Bri3

Bri-PRES

I archived all the tweets that were sent to or mentioned my employers and boss on 1/30-1/31. There wasn’t a high volume of them and most were from BJBSJ people. Again, these are not people with large followings, so this thing never blew up the way one might expect. As expected, a couple of the people to comment were Patriots fans who follow BJBSJ people and have their own history of hating me. I want to highlight one of those fans: @PatriotsSBLII. He did his part to help get me fired:

LII-P

Of course, he would be perfect BJBSJ material with his past tweets. Again, notice how I wasn’t even engaging him, but I was missing out on his attacks because I had him muted when he should have been blocked.

LII-2

Finally, I want to mention the person who posted my tweets and started the false narrative that I’m racist: @designatedkyle. He thinks he’s smarter than the others by changing his username (@dontaboomhauer below), blocking me, and deleting some old tweets of his own, but I have what I need on him. I even got some help from a Twitter user who provoked him the day the Robert Kraft prostitution story broke, and Kyle here showed his true BJBSJ colors before deleting the tweet:

Kyle

If throwing stones in a glass house was an Olympic sport, the BJBSJ crew would win every gold medal possible.

I have never claimed to be a perfect angel on Twitter. I’m not Fred Rogers; I don’t get along with everybody. I may be many things, but I am not racist, I don’t have a problem with diversity, and I don’t get off by tweeting about how so and so should die. The fact is you could dig through my tweets and come up with a dozen prefaced with “Does Scott Kacsmar have a problem with white people?” It would be another ludicrous conclusion to reach, but it could be done when you get to spin the narrative you want.

I have always judged people by character, not their color. The BJBSJ mob’s character is all about defending Boston sports by means of telling everyone who disagrees with them to die. I feel like I was ratted out for jaywalking by a group of bank robbers who just pulled off an armed robbery, and I’m the only one facing any consequences. I also discovered that they’re still trying to get people in trouble while having zero accountability for their own hateful words.

This has to stop. My preference is an agreement to eternally hate one another in silence. But if they’re going to continue trying to prevent me from having a livelihood, then I will pursue legal action. They can delete the tweets I exposed, but I (and my attorney) have the screenshots and links. I will carry this out further if I have to, but I really just want to get better and move on with my life.

Part III: My Anxiety, My Motivation

Some may be wondering why it took me this long to write this. February was a really difficult month as I had to figure out how to survive my new circumstances. I felt like a leper on Twitter and largely avoided it in February and March. Commenting on football (or anything really) felt pointless to me. It kind of helped that the Super Bowl was a horrible game and the offseason drama, particularly involving my hometown Steelers, was horrendous (thanks, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown). I hadn’t taken a break from covering football since 2011, so some away time was needed to be honest.

March brought a case of the flu that destroyed me for a couple of weeks. By the time I had finally gotten over that, my beloved grandmother passed away on St. Patrick’s Day after a long battle with Parkinson’s-dementia. Even going back to elementary school I always had this feeling that the first funeral I would attend would be for her, and that’s exactly what happened. I can honestly say the two worst moments of my life happened not even 50 days apart. I’m thankful to have my mom and a few close friends — special mention to the trio of incredible people I text with daily (you know who you are) — help me get through this year. Depression was only natural at that point, but I never let it get the best of me. That would be letting the mob win.

I wanted to let the NFL draft play out in April as I figured sites would be busy focusing on that. I also had to learn about defamation, libel and character assassination as several people told me I need to look into pursuing legal action. In May, I again had a multi-week illness with a sinus infection. Of course that had to happen right after I bragged about outgrowing those sinus problems. I also inquired about a job with a large company, but was ghosted when an answer would have taken a minute at most from the person. That certainly got me worried. Did this person Google me and not like what they read, or are they just lazy at their job? I don’t know.

Then we hit June. I felt healthier and happier. I want to find a job, but the fear of rejection is real. I have a couple of opportunities I think would be great for me, but I don’t want to burn those bridges right away as I feel like I have to get some experience at explaining what happened first. I still receive the occasional question about an article I would have done for my former employer. It’s awkward and embarrassing to tell the truth that I no longer work for that company. After I reply, anxiety usually amps up as I assume the person flocks to Google to find out what happened from the limited resources available.

Will they view me as a racist? Will they want nothing to do with me going forward? Those are the same two questions I have for essentially everyone that I tell about how I lost my job. Five months later, I live with this feeling that a lot of people still really don’t know what happened, and the uncertainty with how they will react to it is what keeps me nervous.

There’s also the case of Jon Ledyard that really influenced my decision to write this. Jon is another NFL writer from Pittsburgh, though I should clarify that we really don’t know each other at all. I do know that he made some offensive tweets years ago and he apologized for them. They resurfaced this year — one was actually tweeted by the company account in an odd event (hacked?) — and he was suspended before moving on from that company. The thought of getting punished twice for the same offense should be frightening to anyone. These aren’t criminal cases so it’s not like double jeopardy applies, but after seeing that, I knew I had to write something definitive so this same angry mob doesn’t try to ruin me at the next job.

Part IV/Conclusion: Everyone’s Cancelled

Who needs nuclear war or sentient robots to end humanity? We’re doing just fine destroying each other on social media.

The night before Super Bowl LIII is when I first thought that social media was going to be our path to destruction. I felt this after I found myself digging for old, offensive tweets — not only from people I don’t like, but writers and colleagues I respect to see if they had anything out there. Some of you did too, so if you’ve learned anything from my story, clean up your old messes first, especially if you’re going to criticize someone else for an old tweet.

The youthful creators of social media likely underestimated just how dangerous this world can get when you make instant interaction with a wide audience so easy. Smartphones have only added to the excess and addiction while giving everyone a voice, a camera, and a platform to turn every waking moment into potential news.

One thing the creators should have better foreseen was that if you give humans this platform, many are going to use it with bad intentions. From election interference to cyber bullying to providing communities for terrorists/incels/hate groups to flourish, there are many negative outcomes associated with these platforms. We also see that companies such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have struggled in handling problematic users. Hatred is always trending and has been quite profitable, and it’s only gotten worse as people actively find ways to ruin others on social media.

We all have to think about being better people on social media. A problem I recognized I had is feeling the need to pass time with commercials during live sports events with edgy jokes. A good chunk of my insensitive tweets were made in that exact situation, so that’s something I have to continue being mindful of for sure. More often than not, the best thing you can do is just not tweet. Go back to saying nothing like you did for years before you had that damn phone in your hand.

Followers are really not friends. When you have a thought to share that could be deemed controversial, there’s a reason that only used to be told in person to close friends or family. These people knew you well, had your back and understood when you were being serious or not. This worked well enough for humanity for centuries. Today, some people just can’t help themselves from tweeting the first offensive thing that comes to mind. Even The Onion has slipped up before. Even an inside joke with a long-time follower can be tricky to do outside of private messages these days. You just never know who is going to find it and claim outrage (fake or not).

Not only are followers usually not friends, but the weird twist that social media adds is that they include your enemies. People absolutely will follow someone they hate. That’s why I’ve said using block is better than mute in the long run. Some of these people are just waiting for you to slip up so they can get together with like-minded individuals and ruin you. We used to have privacy from our enemies, but that’s simply not how social media works.

In the past, mostly celebrities dealt with being cancelled by angry mobs. Actor Mel Gibson went on a racist tirade in 2010, but he still had money to survive on until 2016 when he garnered respect again for his direction of Hacksaw Ridge. Now random, everyday people are the target of these mobs. These people don’t have Mel Gibson money. They can’t just follow the celebrity solution and go away for years. If someone commits an actual crime then it should be dealt with by law, but usually it’s just something that results in a hanging in the court of public opinion.

Unfortunately, laws are not up to snuff yet for social media either. People can hide behind the first amendment and call someone a racist without any proof and there’s no consequence for that person. Meanwhile, it can obviously have huge consequences for the accused. As my story shows, you can harass someone online, manipulate the meaning of their tweets, pressure their employer to fire them and get away with it all. This will happen to more people unless something is done there.

When I lost my job, I received a lot of encouraging direct messages from people who still wanted to support me. One of the best messages that really put things in perspective for me came from an African-American follower. He said “that anyone can weaponize racial grievances. As a black man, it especially hurts because I don’t think this will be the last example of a privileged group using the legitimate issues of racial grievances for their own petty gain, with no thought as to the real world consequences of everyday racism people of color go through.”

He’s absolutely right. True social activists did not take me down. Butt-hurt Boston sports fans did because they realized in 2019 that making someone look racist is the easiest way to cancel them. The fake outrage undermines the real racial injustices that go on in this country every day. People are still being denied employment opportunities and fair treatment from law enforcement because of the color of their skin. I once tweeted a picture of WWE wrestler Akeem the African Dream and said “Definition of jive.” It’s insulting to equate that with actual racism.

The week I was fired was a particularly wild one with so much racial tension that it only added to my fear of finding future employment. The Jussie Smollett case started the day before my tweets were posted. The day after I was fired, Virginia governor Ralph Northam’s yearbook picture controversy started with blackface. At least people weren’t buying the professor who claimed Mary Poppins is a racist movie because of the soot/chimney scene that qualifies as blackface. The week finally ended with actor Liam Neeson’s confession of wanting to commit a hate crime decades ago. Throw in the Super Bowl and I was a footnote at best that week. However, the initial reaction to the Smollett case shows how impactful it can be to weaponize racism. They allegedly faked a hate crime because they knew nothing would grab headlines and rile this country up more than a gay black man being assaulted by Trump supporters. A hoax like that gives terrible people such as Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson all the proof they need to claim future, real crimes are also hoaxes.

Speaking of hoaxes, let’s remember another fake outrage campaign from a group of terrible people that only wanted to smear someone because of his opinion on an unrelated topic. Director James Gunn lost his job (temporarily) with Disney after his old tweets about pedophilia and rape jokes were dug up by alt-right people with ties to Pizzagate. These people did not target Gunn because they were offended by his tweets. They did it because he was publicly anti-Trump. Tribalism might be the biggest problem in this country today, and sports and politics are two of the worst factions for that. People are trying to end careers every day because of disagreements in those areas. Fortunately, some common sense prevailed and Gunn, who had cleaned up his act over the years, returned at Disney to direct the next Guardians of the Galaxy sequel.

It’s also problematic that people do not think change is possible. Actor Kevin Hart did not host the Oscars this year after old homophobic tweets resurfaced from 2011 and earlier when Hart was in his early thirties. Now almost 40, is it not reasonable that Hart’s viewpoint on his son’s sexuality could have changed after years of fatherhood? Speaking as a millennial myself, many of us used to say “that’s gay” in reference to something being stupid or dumb. I got older, realized it wasn’t the right word to use in that situation, and I haven’t used the phrase in years. I don’t really hear others use it like that anymore either. I can say my stance on the death penalty has changed from where it was five years ago or so. I am more in favor of life sentences now. I also don’t feel the same way about the Redskins debate that was the subject of a couple of my 2014 insensitive tweets. I would support changing the name now as “keeping with tradition” is a shoddy argument to use for keeping it. Nostalgia and tradition are part of the reason we still have Confederate statues when we shouldn’t. People should always strive to be better, learn more, and new knowledge can certainly lead to change.

I linked to this blog post earlier, but I want to highlight again what I wrote after Trump won the 2016 election. Anyone who reads that should see that my thoughts on race and diversity are not problematic. I wish I would have remembered that piece five months ago and used that in lieu of rushing out an apology under absurd circumstances. The fact that my insensitive tweets weren’t recent should hopefully show people that I have changed, but all I can do to further prove that is being better moving forward.

We seem to be headed down a very dangerous path where people don’t want anyone to get a second chance in life. Mess up one time and you are done according to the Twitterverse. Life after prison for convicted felons is already bad enough in this country, but what’s going to happen when average people are cancelled for non-crimes and they can’t find any other work? If we continue holding people to a ridiculous one-and-done standard, many lives are just going to go to waste. We’ll have purgatory on Earth.

You’re even running out of time to tell me to go flip burgers, because the robots will eventually take over those jobs from humans. Technology is rapidly changing our world, and we are struggling with how to handle social media so far. I want to make it clear that I think social media has many positives too. Getting a reply from an entertainer you’ve been a fan of since high school will always be exciting. Finding out you have readers in Denmark and various other places in the world is always humbling. My last job likely wouldn’t have come to fruition without growing a readership largely through Twitter. It’s just undeniable that there are serious consequences that can come from using social media too, and it may only get worse with deepfake videos and our gravitation towards tribalism. We need to spend more time communicating with people we actually like.

My future is almost as uncertain as it was five months ago. I have received an interesting offer despite the fact that I haven’t put myself out there on the job market yet. That’s the next step after finally getting this off my chest.

I’m not living

I’m just killing time

Now it’s July. I want to get back to living, and hopefully, in time, there will be healing too.

Scott Kacsmar: About Me

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.

bjsj

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.

1-30-2019apology

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.

THE TWEETS

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.