The content portion of my first article for the front page wasn't anything spectacular. The date was December 10, 2010; late in the year of what was the toughest season for the Cowboys since the Dave Campo era, and the toughest year of my personal life. Jason Garrett was a couple of games into his interim tenure, and Jon Kitna was captaining the ship on the field.
I set up a series of possible out-the-box headlines for readers to try and "predict" what would be the prevailing theme of the upcoming tilt between the Cowboys and the hated Eagles. The responses were great, including JimmyK playing out a scene from the movie The Last Boy Scout, but using Cowboys as the central characters.
Over the years, I'd like to think that my writing has improved while my football acumen has grown by leaps and bounds. I was already penning a weekly column in the Fan Posts over the course of the season. It included my take on the previous and upcoming games, some pictures of scantily clad women and, of course, the weekly Pick'Em contest I had invented known as "KDP's 10 For 10".
Stepping up to the front page was demanding, primarily due to the company I was now keeping. At the time I was brought on board, I was the fourth member of the team, joining the likes of our fearless leader Dave, as well as OCC and Rabble. Writing wasn't the hard part; when you're fresh, green and living a dream deferred (for over a decade), the ideas flowed as if I was freestyling over the sickest beat ever produced on an infinite loop. I'd often find myself writing three articles simultaneously, deep into the hours of the night when candle wicks normally had extinguished themselves.
The hard part was living up to the standards that the blog had set. I joined the team as the bar was elevating to new heights. The transition to Garrett as head honcho spurred furious debate over his worthiness for the position. Soon after, the 2011 draft brought about more politicking about which side of the ball needed fixing. Then the lockout happened.
The lockout is when I think BTB took over the game when it came to Cowboys coverage. This four-man team of ours killed it, keeping things entertaining when there was literally nothing entertaining to talk about. During that stretch, the demand for moar(!) awesome coverage grew to the point that Dave brought Kegbearer into the fold as the fifth FPW. Close on his heels we were graced with the musings of one Pineywoods, or Tom Ryle, to those unfamiliar with his FanPost exploits.
Over the next few years, I've been proud to call these guys my Cowboys family, as we were eventually joined by Archie Barberio (Chia Crack), Coty Saxman, and two writers still with us now, Joey Ickes and Dawn Macelli. Each member of the team has been able to bring a unique voice to the table while still living and breathing Dallas Cowboys football. Some have moved on to other things, but remain part of my concept of BTB's family.
But the family here at BTB extends far beyond this. I've been a registered member of this community since September, 2008. I learned of SB Nation's existence through the Wizards blog, Bullets Forever, which is run by Mike Prada; a tremendously cool guy who is now also the NBA Editor for the parent company. So before I migrated over to join the ranks in the comment section (I was active on Raf's TheBoysBlog and The Blue and Silver Report following my early days on the DC.com message boards), I was a lurker here, reading the stylings of Mr. Halprin along with Carl Shelton, Jim Vance, Brandon Worley, Aaron Novinger and even some guy named Mike Fisher. Fun times.
Once I started commenting, though, I was hooked. This community, thanks to the heady guidelines and management of Dave, stood for something. It was close-knit and friendly, with no cantankerous bickering. Everyone got along and had spirited debates. But it dawned on me how extremely special this place was when we rallied to help in what we probably thought was a minor way, but may have been bigger than we ever imagined. My words will never do this justice, so I'll just send you to read this update from Tarheel Paul from 2012; much love for you man.
BTB was a haven for Paul, and the opportunity to write about the Cowboys was the same for me. My wife was a few days shy of being six months pregnant when we miscarried in late November 2010. It was a devastating loss that brought about a very tough stretch for me, but writing about the Cowboys is one of the things that helped me to move forward in life.
And for this opportunity I owe Dave Halprin the world. Through this chance, I've been blessed to interview my childhood favorite Emmitt Smith, twice. I've interviewed other Hall of Famers and Cowboys legends Roger Staubach and Rayfield Wright, and future Hall of Famer Demarcus Ware. I've talked to countless guests dealing with the Cowboys on my podcast, and interacted with tens of thousands of Cowboys fans through the BTB twitter account and my videos on Youtube. I became a published author through this site with the Cowboys Annual.
I've been referred to as a Cowboys expert by radio stations across the country who've had me on to talk Dallas and the NFL. It's been a surreal existence. I've had a blast coordinating the social side of things here with the Community Mocks and the Fantasy Football leagues. I can't tell you how many times my wife has caught me smiling at the computer screen and making fun of me to our son because I was engaging in a back and forth with someone in the comments section.
All of these things, and a million more reasons, is why this post is a difficult one to write. This will be my last one here on Blogging The Boys. I've received an opportunity that I'd be foolish to refuse, and I will be embarking on this new endeavor starting tomorrow. I will still be covering the Cowboys, and hopefully through this article you all will know it must be a great opportunity for me to walk away from all this.
It is with the most heartfelt gratitude that I thank all of you for reading my articles on a regular basis, for conversing with me on Twitter and Facebook, for watching my videos, for educating me as much as I tried to add to your Cowboys knowledge.
Dave, OCC, Rabs, Tom, Joey, Dawn, Keg, Archie, Coty, Fernie, Rena, Scott, Horn.. it's been my pleasure working with you all. It's been my pleasure being surrounded by the greatest collections of Cowboys writers never to have access to a locker room or press conference, but the time has come for me to try something new.
Here's what I wrote in my introductory article about what I'd try to do here.
I'm a highly accountable fan's fan. I evaluate both sides of an argument, defend one, and then turn around and say 'but A doesn't always equate to B' because I like to formulate the consensus. I live in Redskins country and love it when friends say "You're the only Cowboys fan I can hold a football conversation with, you always have facts." And let's call it how it is, Blogging The Boys is graduate level Cowboys fandom. I stand by my opinions, but I do not wed myself to them. I'm flexible, but not a flip-flopper. I'm a fantasy football nutjob. I don't claim to be an expert, but I promise sound logic and the work it requires to be right more often than not. Let's dive into some Cowboys talk shall we?
I hope you all have been pleased with my effort to live up to that. If you'd like to keep up with me and my takes on this team we obsess over, follow me on my twitter account, @KDP10For10, and see where this journey takes me. Thank you again, for the last four years.
[Ed Note - I want to wish KD all the success in the world. When he joined the BTB staff all those years ago, I had no idea how much he would become part of the BTB fabric, and how close we would become as friends. I'm going to miss him, as I'm sure all of you will. So here's a salute back to KD, for all he's brought to BTB over the years. Good luck, my Cowboys brother. -- Dave Halprin]