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After Six Seasons Of Awesome, It's Time To Say Goodbye

It's time to hang up the cleats.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It feels right. But it's emotional. Saying goodbye to anything you've done that long is hard.

-Angela Ruggiero

This is the post that no front page writer ever wants to write. After six seasons covering the Cowboys on BTB, I have decided that it's time to bid farewell.

I came on board the front page in September, 2010, and have seen a lot in my time on Blogging The Boys: I watched a playoff team implode under Wade Phillips; covered the Jason Garrett promotion and then hiring; sat through three agonizing 8-8 season filled with nail-biters that ended in exhilaration or despair; saw the "process" seemingly come to fruition in 2014; then watched a playoff team implode. So, as much as I hate to step down after the crapfest that was the 2015 campaign, I suppose there is a certain symmetry to the timing.

The richness of this experience has not been marked by the  Cowboys' success or lack thereof, but rather by the relationships that have been forged in the past five and a half years. While the majority of these have remained virtual, some have resulted in in-the-flesh meetings. In covering the last four training camps, I have had the opportunity not only to meet O.C.C. for the first time, but also to hang with Dan Turner, Raf Vela, Steve Van Over, the great YumaCactus, and become friends with Knowledgeable Cowboys Fan, a man whose intelligence and rabid fandom I admire and respect tremendously.

Since I am in the admiring vein, I must offer a shout-out to another Oxnard regular, Landon McCool. We met three camps ago when we decided, after a Twitter discussion, to grab some breakfast and then head over early (I mean, like, really early) to the Blue-White scrimmage to ensure a good viewing place. That long day, we talked Cowboys football non-stop, and haven't stopped since. A friendship grew into a partnership; working with McCool on the BTB podcast (59 episodes in a little over a year and a half!) has been one of my very favorite aspects of my time on the blog. You have made me a better fan, my friend.

Most of all, I want to thank my fellow front page writers. In talking to ex-front pagers, they agree that the one of the very best aspects of being a FPW is the email conversations in which we are constantly engaged. Having the chance to chat about the Cowboys with several iterations of fellow front pagers has been a delight, and I will sorely miss those email threads popping up in my inbox. Each and every one of you has added to the way I think about the Cowboys and NFL football in general. To a special few - Archie, Cody, KD, Joey, pineywoods Tom Ryle - I raise and drain a glass to your excellence.

It will take more than a single glass to toast my man O.C.C. When I announced to the other front pagers that I would be stepping down, he wrote that I had been a "brother in arms" to him, a sentiment that I apply to him as well. The Cool One joined BTB a couple of months before I did, so we have grown up together, so to speak. O.C.C. is a startling thinker, with the capacity to interpret data in new, unusual ways. What makes him truly brilliant, however, is his ability to translate that into clear, direct prose so that complex readings are made accessible. Cool, you have blown my mind, made me rush to get more information (thus, for example, spending seven hours compiling tackle stats for college defensive backs!), and made me laugh out loud more times than I can count. Thanks to you, I see the game in ways I never could have imagined back in 2010.

And last but not least, Dave. On August 10, 2010, I hit Blogging The Boys for my daily dose of Cowboys news to find a post by Dave titled BTB: Help Wanted. As a rabid fan and lover of the blog who had been telling friends that what I really wanted to do with my life was to write about the Cowboys, this was precisely the opening I was looking for, and I immediately applied. The problem? I was a regular reader (and by "regular," I mean I logged on five or six times a day), but not a participant. To that point, I had contributed precisely zero comments and one short, inconsequential FanPost, on the two tight end offense.

Nevertheless, Dave (perhaps out of desperation, perhaps pity) took a chance on me, and I can't thank him enough. Thanks to BTB, I've learned a tremendous amount about this peculiar game we all love so much, broke a national story on Dallas' 2013 draft board, covered numerous training camps, and had the chance, on the podcast, to talk Cowboys and the NFL with some of the smartest, most capable journalists out there. Dave: this has been a tremendous, life-defining experience, and you generously opened the door and ushered me into the secret chamber. I will always be grateful for the opportunity.

In my first post on BTB, on the early September cut-down to 53, I wrote the following:

Let me begin by saying how thrilled I am to be in this new position; having the opportunity to talk about and to share views on the greatest team in the history of professional sports is a great honor and a tremendous responsibility...In my posts, I'll strive to keep ya'll updated with breaking news and views, bits of game analysis, and a lot of information about the draft (I'm obsessed by the draft). I'll also try to keep focused on the big picture, offering a long view that, I hope, will serve as a calming oil to the media's vinegar-y freak-out-du-jour.

For five and a half years, I have continued to feel strongly that writing about the Cowboys for all of you is a great honor, and have tried to find new lenses through which we can see and understand the team. I also hope I've been able to live up to my moniker by being a bit of a contrarian and offering more than occasional meme-busting. It has been an absolute pleasure writing, arguing, and learning about the Cowboys with all of you.

I have often described BTB as a "boutique site" that caters to the most intelligent and curious of Cowboys fans. This is not mere posturing; the consistent insight displayed in FanPosts and in the comments sections supports my contention. For me, Blogging The Boys has, and will continue to be, "home" - a place where I can sit down, crack open a beer and talk football with other smart, informed fans. Despite the many tremendous experiences I have had as a part of BTB, that aspect of the blog has proven to be the most rewarding. So, a hearty thanks to you, the members, for the conversation.

I'm leaving the front page but not the blog. I'll be in the comments section and expect to author an occasional FanPost, so I look forward to continuing the conversation. In anticipation, I'll make sure to keep a few cold ones in the fridge...


Follow me @rabblerousr

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