When my great friend rabblerousr and I met up at training camp in Oxnard in 2015, rabble made a proposal I immediately agreed to: We would both step down as front page writers on Blogging The Boys as soon as the Cowboys won the Super Bowl.
Our assumption at the time was that that would happen sooner rather than later; the Cowboys had just come off a 12-4 season and were one blown call away from the NFC Championship Game.
Alas, that Super Bowl appearance still hasn't materialized. To my continued regret, rabble stepped down in January, 2016, “after six seasons of awesomeness”, while I soldiered on bravely.
But now my time has come to say goodbye as well.
I originally joined the blog early in 2009, and soon started writing my first comments. Encouraged by the likes of BTB-member “Luke” to comment more, I did just that, and eventually started writing my own FanPosts. Those FanPosts were surprisingly well-received and started populating the “most popular fanpost of all time” list still available on SB Nation at the time.
In late January 2010, I got an e-mail from Dave Halprin asking whether I would be interested in writing for the front page on a trial basis during the offseason. The expectation was that I would contribute 3-4 posts per week, which felt like a huge commitment to me at the time.
I calculated that I'd need to write about 60 stories to meet Dave's minimum quota, so I sat down and made a list of 60 story ideas that I would write about over the coming months, and accepted Dave's invitation to the front page.
By my count, this is my 4,036th and final post on BTB, and I still haven't written all of those original 60 stories ideas I listed at the time.
In the post that introduced me as a FPW, I wrote that I hoped you'd find my contributions to the front page “either entertaining or enlightening - and ideally a combination of both”. I trust that I've met that goal with a few of my posts over time.
One of the things that I did not at all expect to happen was that my starting to write about the Cowboys would become so much more than just a simple writing job.
I've had the great pleasure of being invited into the homes of fellow Cowboys fans; I've been fortunate to attend a BTB-get-together in the Poconos Mountains, graciously hosted by our very own nepacowboy; I watched the Cowboys live in Wembley; I've been to training camp in Oxnard four times, where I've met a host of fellow fans, including but not limited to Steve Van Over (who seemingly gets his camera equipment stolen before every camp), Rafael Vela, YumaCactus (if only briefly), Knowledgeable Cowboys Fan, Landon McCool, RJ Ochoa, and many others, including of course the incomparable rabblerousr:
Back at home, my French colleagues have started calling me the “American German”; my son has taken up playing gridiron football, and I'm driving around in an outrageously overpowered American muscle car, which I'm just about to start tuning for even more performance.
That's quite a lot for a simple writing gig.
But the one thing that stands out most clearly in my mind over the last eight years are the interactions with my fellow front page writers over the years.
Some of our e-mail chains eventually make it into posts on BTB, but many, many more serve simply to exchange ideas, thoughts, and questions and make writing for BTB a much more collaborative and fun experience than most realize.
I think back most fondly to my early years on the blog, when we were all just getting our feet wet as bloggers and writers. In blogging terms, I grew up next to the always eloquent and brilliant thinker rabblerousr, who joined the blog a few months after I did, as did KD Drummond, who brought a special brand of feistiness to our little empire. Tom Ryle, our elder statesman, and Kegbearer joined in 2011, CotySaxman in 2012. And all of us were learning as we went along. If you had a question about the salary cap, someone in the group would figure it out; if you needed some obscure metrics, somebody in the group would have them; if you had a question about a specific play call, odds were someone would turn the answer into an article.
Those conversations continue to this day behind the scenes, even though the participating names have changed over time: I've shared the front page with 33 other writers over the last eight years. Too many to name individually, but all with their own unique contribution to the blog.
As my time as a writer here comes to an end, as it has done for many of my friends before for various reasons, BTB will continue, as it has many times before.
And that has a lot to do with Dave Halprin. Dave took a chance on me early on (think about that, a German sitting in Germany writing about football for a largely American audience!), always had my back when I ran into trouble with the higher ups in the network, and most importantly, just let me do my thing.
The freedom to write what I wanted, when I wanted, with complete disregard for traffic numbers, word counts, or other quotas are probably what kept me going for so long and made all of this such a fun experience. Thank you, Dave.
I’m leaving the front page but not the blog. I've agreed with Dave to continue helping out behind the scenes, and I’ll continue to be active in the comments section, where I'll continue to be defiantly optimistic about the 2018 Cowboys.
So long, and thanks for all the rec's.