The Next Episode: The Athletic-NSH


“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9

The verse above is one that I used to close a post after I was let go in 2016 by ESPN.

That day, your response was simply incredible. Those messages of encouragement held me up then -- and through a trying, long season of adversity. I thought of messages like the ones below, sometimes referencing them when hope was in short supply.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for those notes -- and for all the support along the way.

As it turned out, that event only set off a season of turbulence in my professional and personal life.

I clung to the promise of Galatians 6:9 and other verses, but I've struggled more in this calendar year than any other before it. For the first time in my life, I often didn't respond to phone calls or texts -- just because, really, I didn't have anything good to say. I wasn't in a good place. I leaned on a tight circle, confiding in them about the pain and embarrassment of being rudderless at a time when everyone else seemed to be putting their lives together.

I felt stuck.

I kept fighting, mentally crawling when I didn't have the strength to walk. I wanted to believe that God would lift me at a "proper time," but the wait was excruciating. The freelance market dried up in the spring and was nonexistent this summer. The side jobs I took, out of necessity, were humbling -- and at times humiliating.

Well, the seasons seem to have changed, finally. I feel the sun again. I feel hope surging again. The "proper time" has arrived.

Today is one of the very best days I can remember.

I'm going to cover the Tennessee Titans for The Athletic's new Nashville site, and I'm ecstatic about it.

I'd like to sincerely thank Paul Fichtenbaum, Dan Kaufman and others at The Athletic for this opportunity. And if Dan's name seems familiar, it's because he's the person who hired me at ESPN in 2012. He took a shot on a beat writer in Oklahoma City to cover national college football for the first time. He believed in me.

And about a month ago, Dan - and others at The Athletic - believed in me again, this time to cover the NFL for the first time. To go through all of this, and have the same person come to you and in effect say, "I still believe in you" is ... I don't even have the words. It means everything to me, and I'm so grateful that I'll again be able to work for a company that has a man like Dan Kaufman in a leadership position.

The Athletic is getting a highly motivated reporter, but also someone who has so much more perspective than in the past. Spend some time on the sidelines, and you're bound to come back differently. I've been sweating out at Titans' camp the past couple of weeks -- and I've never been so happy and grateful to sweat. I'm just so glad to be working, so happy to have a carrot to again chase.

As I'd written in the past, however, work isn't everything -- and better balance will be required moving forward. Thankfully, that fits within the framework of The Athletic's philosophies; it doesn't want its reporters to grind to the point of burnout. That frees up reporters to tell more quality stories, better enjoy what they're doing and have lives outside the job.

A thought I explored in the introductory piece for the website is being better connected to Nashville through this job. This place has truly felt like home since I was a kid. To have a job that allows me to further tether myself to this community and its sports fans, that's incredible to me.

As a national college football reporter, I always felt like sort of an outsider when it came to local sports fans and even local sports media. Now, I already feel more attached to this city I love - and I get to follow a team on the rise.

I'm so glad today is here. It's time to go to work.