So over the past few months I’ve written three guest pieces for Deadspin.
Generally, the world has shrugged. Because, hey, who cares if Jeff Pearlman (or Jeff Anyone) is writing anywhere?
In a few cases, however, folks have expressed some irritated surprise. “Deadspin? After the way things went down? After the way all those staffers either quit or were dumped? Deadspin!?” (If you need a deeper understanding, here’s a piece Slate ran last March, explaining much of what transpired).
To which I reply: Yeah.
And here’s the thing: I get it. Truly, I do. I actually loved much of what old Deadspin produced; love many of the amazing writers the site brought to the forefront. From Will Leitch and David Roth to Drew Magary and Brian Hickey, it was irreverent and smart and oftentimes groundbreaking. It was a site that did things other sites wouldn’t touch. Hell, I probably had 20 bylines on the old Deadspin, and while it paid me (collectively) little, I enjoyed the exposure and encouragement to write hard. (FYI: Many of the old Deadspin staff reunited to start a new site, Defector)
But … I dunno. As I sit here, at age 48 (almost 49), the freelance world has dried up. There simply aren’t all that many opportunities to write; certainly in regards to getting paid. Print magazines have shriveled and blown away. Whereas once joints like Spin and Details and Maxim were requesting pitches, now—
almost nothing. Scratch the almost—nothing.
Three points on Deadspin:
- The editor, Eric Barrow, is a wonderful guy.
- They call.
- They pay.
And here’s the thing. Not all that long ago Sports Illustrated laid off one terrific writer after another after another. Legends. Near-legends. People like Chris Ballard and Grant Wahl, who devoted decades to doing tremendous work. As a magazine alum, it pissed me off. But when they recently enlisted the likes of my pal Howard Beck (amazing hire), I was thrilled. Was Howard not supposed to take a job because SI is run (on the business side) by greedy assholes? Are we to demand he refuse the paycheck? Of course not. Not even an issue.
I can go on and on. I spent two years writing for Bleacher Report before the website slashed me because I was (in one editor’s words) “too old.” Was I mad at others for sticking around? For taking my place? Fuck no. A couple of years ago a bunch of us served as The Athletic’s first team of national columnists—myself, Phil Taylor, Lisa Olson. One day (without much warning) The Athletic sliced us all. Slice, slice, slice. Callously. Did it hurt? Sure. Does that mean no one else should work there? Absolutely not.
The New York Daily News’ sports department is a travesty. A once-great section has largely turned to dust (ironically, it’s run by a former Deadspin guy). The paper’s best sports columnist is a man named Bradford William Davis. He’s outstanding. Should he have not accepted a high-profile Big Apple gig because the newspaper’s management is trash? For Christ’s sake, no.
The reality is, we’re all hypocrites to one degree or another. I certainly am. My first four books were published by HarperCollins—owned by the awful Rupert Murdoch. When I was pumping my Barry Bonds book, I appeared on Hannity (admittedly, a regret). We live around the corner from a Chick-Fil-A—a company that simultaneously has a brutal record on gay rights and makes one hell of a sandwich.
I loved the old Deadspin.
I’ve written for the new Deadspin.
Such is life.