Worst chief in 16 years says ‘later’

A couple of minutes ago, while searching for some examples of crap writing from my past to show my class at Manhattanville College, I came across my farewell column from The Review, our student newspaper at Delaware. I vividly remember writing the piece, thinking all along that it was pure literary greatness—a magical piece of writing that would blow the world away.

After all, I was Jeff Pearlman. The Jeff Pearlman. Editor of The Review!

The thing, in hindsight, is a joke.

Talk about arrogant. Talk about smug. Talk about crap atop crap atop crap. Sure, I still have my moments. But this might be the worst column ever written. Anywhere. Of all time.

Enjoy …

Worst chief in 16 years says ‘later’

By Jeff Pearlman

May 17, 1994

NEWARK, DE—As the Delaware skyline darkens and the winds of a soon-to-be-frigid night move in, a solitary figure stands by the garage door, checking to make sure his ski mask is nice and tight.

He drapes his hands in a thick pair of black gloves, then moves down to stretch his legs—covered by thermal dark-blue sweat pants.

Before the outgoing editor in chief of The Review takes off for an 86-or-so year run, he wants to be certain every distinguishable element of his body is covered.

He hides in his inner-self, protected by the false image of a man who knows onlt how to bash and demolish.

The most hated man at Delaware.

The asshole Jeff Pearlman.

The anti-Greek, anti-athlete, anti-Roselle, anti-gay, anti-black, anti-woman, anti-everything dick in the wall.

UD’s bad boy.

Jeff Pearlman snickers to himself while stretching for the trek. He knows the false identity that’s been created is more than slightly his own doing.

Yes, Jeff Pearlman does smile and laugh and tell jokes and hug—just never in public.

Always sit with your back to the wall, Malcolm X once wrote.

The editor likes Malcolm X.

He doesn’t like the image, though.

The time to take off for the long run approaches, but the editor is not quite ready yet.

He needs to stretch … to let off some more steam.

Jeff Pearlman recalls freshman year, when the athletic director hounded him like a stalker. It was about a misquote that wasn’t—a figment of the adminsitrator’s bureaucratic imagination.

His heart rate quickens. He wants to run.

Jeff Pearlman recalls three weeks ago, when Dennis Jackson, a university professor, called up and said the editor should “chalk up this year’s paper as a failure and just move on.”

Did this idiot not see the work involved? Did he ever help? Offer encouragement? Step into the paper’s office? Give a fuckin’ damn?

The sweat is beginning to pur our. Let the kid run.

Jeff Pearlman recalls the coach who called him an asshole in front of her entire team. He remembers the other one—the one he wrote should be fired—hugging the dart board with a Pearlman mug shot.

All boys need to run and play. No matter how old.

Jeff Pearlman recalls those people who thought he was some sort of freak. Why doesn’t he drink? Smoke pot? Have sex?

Why is the guy so straight and narrow? So boring? Such a geek?

Run Pearlman … run.

Jeff Pearlman wants to take off … to leave the monotony and boredome behind. For four years his feet have been planted to the base of a wheelchair, strapped to stainless steel and allowed to move nary an inch. His gut is large and his hands are plump—fat from the nutirion-less junkfood that is college.

Samuel Johnson once wrote, “It is always a writer’s duty to make the world better, and justice is a virtue independent of time or place.”

Pearlman has followed Johnson’s words, but crinkles his forehead in the frustrating reality that nobody has listened.

He wants to run—strangely enough—because he is tired. There are those who see him as a joke; a chump looking for nothing more than empty attention.

“You are unprofessional,” Jackson told him. “You have produced the worst paper in my 16 years at the university.”

If there has anyone who has taken a Muhammed Ali-like number of shots to the cranium, it is the editor. He is battle-worn and death-tired.

Pearlman has tried—he swears to every God imaginable, Pearlman has tried.

But when the spotlight is bright and the heat causes every goosebump on your spindly little arm to stand up and shout, you start to change.

You’re backed into a corner with nowhere to go.

You must attack.

Jeff Pearlman is done attacking. After four years, 240 deadlines, 356 articles, 113 columns and 103 hate letters, it is time to find a holster and put the gun down.

It is time to run.

Jeff Pearlman is the outgoing editor in chief of The Review.

9 thoughts on “Worst chief in 16 years says ‘later’”

  1. Ha. Yesterday when cleaning house I found some campus newspapers from my school that I had written music reviews in (around 8 or 9 years ago) and I couldn’t get past reading the first few sentences. So bad. And I didn’t go on to write 4 books and countless columns on SI and ESPN so I can’t imagine what looking back on old material must be like for you.

  2. It’s amazing what writing in the third-person can do. If this were first person, it would still be sanctimonious and haughty, but the third-person thing puts it over the top.

    I’m happy that you decided to post it, knowing how monumentally terrible it was.

  3. Jeff, I say this as someone who has read and enjoyed your work for many years. That was the worst piece of shoot I’ve ever read. Oh my goodness. But as a faithful reader, I have just one question for you that I truly hope you will take a minute to answer: Does Jeff Pearlman still snicker as he stretches?

  4. I’m sitting here giggling, that’s so bad. Isn’t it funny how sanctimonious we can be when filled with the hubris of youth? Thankfully, for most of us perspective comes with age.

  5. I remember those days, but not that particular column.

    I will say that given a choice back then between the Review, the Newark Post, and the News Journal, I preferred reading the Review.

  6. A lot of writers are afraid to experiment, and to fail. And if they were self-aware enough to recognize their writing as bad, they’d certainly never own up to it in a public forum.

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