The other day one of my Twitter followers told me I’m a hack.
Actually, “hack” was the kindest adjective. He said I’m as yellow as piss; that I’m a National Enquirer guy who brings tabloid mentality to sports. I’m no worse than the lowest form of scum, and all I aspire to do is bring people down.
It wasn’t the first time I’d heard such.
Of all the criticisms I’ve received, that’s the one that hurts the most. I actually understand the perception. It started, obviously, with John Rocker in 1999, and only caught some fire a year later, when Dave Wells tore me to pieces for a seemingly flattering SI piece that he found none to flattering. When I wrote a tell-all book about the ’86 Mets (one members of the team seemed to love) and another one about the ’90s Cowboys (again, generally loved by the players), it enhanced my rep. Then, with the early says of Sweetness, well, yeah.
Thing is, we’re at an odd time in journalism. Lots of homers, lots of softies, lots of “journalists” who aspire to be famous, not righteous. I can honestly say I have never gone after a player to go after a player; I’ve never thought to myself, “Let’s see how I can be flamboyant and obnoxious.” But, at the same time, this profession is about telling true stories, not stories dipped in gold coating.
I always wanted to be a real journalist. That’s what I aspire to.