“Forgive? Sounds good.
Forget? I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting”
How many of you recognize the opening words to The Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready to Make Nice”?
Well, whether or not you’re familiar with the song, an awful lot of Bleacher Creatures probably echo the sentiment of the lyrics.
“I’m through with doubts
There’s nothing left for me to figure out
I’ve paid a price, and I’ll keep paying”
Some of us think we have “figured it all out.” It was a conspiracy, I tell you! We were led into an ambush by the Bleacher Report administration. Working in concert with CBSSports.com, Zander and Company stole our dreams.
“I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell, and I don’t have time
To go ‘round and ‘round and ‘round”
It’s quite ironic to me that I included some of the very same lyrics in an e-mail to a friend just yesterday. I was hopping mad about something, and just rather venting, trying to express my feelings on the matter. These lyrics fit.
Little did I know that I was unwittingly expressing how a whole lot of Bleacher Creatures were feeling at the time, and still feel now.
“It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should”
“Mad as hell.” Hurt, wounded, betrayed. Led astray, hoodwinked, bamboozled.
Am I getting close?
By now, it should be pretty clear that I’m talking about the 32 NFL correspondent positions that were first advertised here on B/R a couple of months ago. We were told that each NFL team would have a Bleacher Creature roaming the sidelines.
It didn’t quite work out that way.
16 B/R contributors were offered correspondent spots; two declined for personal reasons, 14 fulfilled their dreams.
Why didn’t 32 Bleacher Creatures get invitations?
That question was answered in a general release that was sent to everyone who participated in the contest. I will hit some of the high points:
“The initial reaction to the Correspondents Program was incredible, and exceeded our and CBSSports.com’s expectations. 2,800 writers applied, many thousands of articles were submitted, and our editorial team worked round-the-clock in order to review every article and assess every single writer.
The goal was for CBSSports.com to choose 32 correspondents, one for each NFL franchise. To help CBSSports.com get to that number Bleacher Report was to recommend 64 finalists — two for every team — for consideration.
This wasn’t an easy task since many teams had in our assessment a bench deeper than two talented writers, and in fact we ended up recommending more than 64 finalists to CBSSports.com. Additionally, as word spread about this new initiative, many veteran sports writers – most with past experience covering the NFL - submitted their resumes and writing samples directly to CBSSports.com. The backgrounds and credentials of these writers were such that it made sense for CBSSports.com to consider them in the mix as well.
Today we are pleased to announce 16 Bleacher Report finalists have been offered Correspondent positions. Unfortunately, two had to bow out for personal reasons, but 14 will begin work soon as official CBSSports.com Pro Football Correspondents. We look forward to following their progress and reporting over the course of the season.”
Well, far be it for me to tell anyone how to express their grief, disappointment, outrage or any other emotion. I have broken more telephones, televisions (including a 52” projection Hitachi I once took an axe to in a fit of rage), plates, glasses and doors than I prefer to recount.
I must further admit that when I first learned of the apparent swerve, I was just as furious as any of you.
Don’t believe me? Private message Greg Eno and he can tell you, or I can forward you a copy of some of our e-mails.
But I digress...
No matter what any of us thinks about the results, no matter who on the administrative staff knew something was changing, and no matter when they acquired this knowledge, one very simple truth is clear to me:
Without Bleacher Report, none of us would have had a chance in hell of sniffing an NFL correspondent’s job.
Can we all just stipulate to that fact?
Fourteen very fortunate—and doubtless very worthy—Bleacher Creatures have just hit the equivalent of the lottery.
It’s like going to Fenway Park, pulling 14 stubs out of the turnstiles and saying to the fortunate few, “We’re about to fulfill your wildest dream.”
So remind me again what we’re getting upset about?
Oh wait, I remember now: “The Bleacher Creatures got sold out by the admins!”
Poppycock! Zander and Company gave us a free ticket to the ball, gave us an opportunity that we in all likelihood otherwise would have never had in our lives.
From blogger to legitimate journalist in three easy steps!
And perhaps that’s why some people are so upset: they lost out on a dream.
I’ve had dreams dashed before; it hurts like hell, I know.
But we should be mature about this. Why lash out at B/R, the very entity that gave us the opportunity in the first place? Why accuse them of malfeasance?
After all, CBSSports.com has every right to demand the absolute best applicants that they can find to fill these 32 coveted positions. Fourteen of them—44% of the haul—came from Bleacher Report.
So why shouldn’t all of us Bleacher Creatures turn flips and congratulate our colleagues without apology and without derision?
Because all this talk of a revolution and how poorly we’ve been treated by the B/R administrators, in addition to being disrespectful to the people who have given us this absolutely free blog spot, mars the beauty of a remarkable accomplishment.
Instead of castigating the Bleacher staff, shouldn’t we be standing on our heads thanking them?
They just kicked open one of the most prestigious doors in the world of sports: sideline reporter for the NF-freakin’-L!
Think about that for another moment.
Who among us can walk up to CBSSports.com, ESPN, or any other major media network and say: “I’ve got 14 people I want you to give jobs to, and a bunch of them have little or no formal training as journalists, but that’s okay, because they’re great writers.”
What Bleacher Report has pulled off is unprecedented, and we need to remember that.
The doors to MLB have been loosened, too. All of the MLB Featured Columnists, in exchange for three solid columns a week, will have access to field and dugout passes!
J. C. Ayvazi, a Los Angeles Dodger FC, has already taken advantage, sitting right next to Joe Torre and picking his brain.
Momma Watson taught me long ago: “Son, never bite the hand that feeds you.” Your mother (or father, or grandparent, or teacher; someone!) has surely taught you the same.
So if someone wishes to leave the Bleachers in a huff, it’s not my place to tell you that you’re wrong. Everyone who contributes here is old enough to make his or her own decisions, and I respect that.
I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do; that’s not my place.
I’m just asking us all to stop, take a deep breath, and really think about our actions.
We’re all writers, after all; that’s why we’re here. We can do remarkable things with our words. Sometimes it’s good, but it can turn quite the other direction, too.
We have a duty to use that gift responsibly.
So instead of spewing bile and venom at the site founders, administrators, and editorial staff, we should all get together and say:
Thank you, Bleacher Report, for giving us a chance to chase our dreams. And congratulations to the 14 B/R contributors who cashed in.