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OPEN LETTER to Grant Wahl & Every Other Big J Soccer Ninny: Time for an Uncomfortable Discussion (for You) about Hypocrisy

Sam’s Safe Space for Soccer Stoolies



TL;DR EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: angry Big J's led by Cornball-In-Chief Grant Wahl are seeking to silence me by threatening any club that works with me, as shown by their bullying campaign that helped convince Atlanta United to delete an entire podcast episode on which I was an invited guest last week. They did this because they hate Barstool. Sadly, many of the outdated and false allegations they continue to demonize me with could just as easily be lobbed at them. That is what makes this whole charade so silly. Everybody can find something to be mad about if you look hard enough. So I propose a new course of action: rather than continuing to be hypocritical doinks, how about you blue checkmarks (a) judge me for the content of my content/character and more importantly (b) focus on not falling off your high-horses rather than proactively stopping me from spreading my love of soccer.



Hi haters,

So here’s the thing about twitter beefs: they suck. For one thing it’s twitter so who tf cares. Secondly whatever the topic may be — politics, sports, cooking recipes, Kanye, Big Cat’s Madden codes — everyone's mind is already made up so arguing is pointless…

Giphy Images.

Now imagine soccer twitter beefs: just as asinine as regular twitter beefs but add in a layer of floppiness with a dash of “sports short guy syndrome” developed from years of ingrained inadequacy and instinctive defensiveness…

Yet here I am writing an entire blog about a soccer twitter beef. How sad is my life? Don’t answer that — but at least hear me out on why I have no choice but to elevate this from twitter to a stand-alone blog:

CHAPTER (1): THE BACKSTORY

I have been posting soccer blogs on Barstool for six years — SIX YEARS! — and podcasting for the last couple. My god that is a long time. It is genuinely incredible how much the company has grown and evolved over that time.

Soccer contenting for Barstool has involved a simultaneous struggle on two fronts. On one side it means coaxing an audience not normally inclined to watch soccer (and in some cases inclined to hate it) that it is worth paying attention to. Easier said than done, lemme tell ya.

On the other it involves convincing a fanbase not normally inclined to respect Barstool (and in some cases inclined to hate it) that it is worth paying attention to. Much easier said than done, lemme tell ya.

And yet, despite many obstacles, there has been legitimate progress made on both fronts.

For example, a lot of Barstool personalities who were not into the sport before have come out and willingly told their parents they are loud and proud footy fans: people like Big Cat (Swansea), Feitelberg (Liverpool), Erika (Chelsea), Willie (Spurs) and latest convert Big Papa Clem (Chelsea) — not to mention the likes of Zah/Mikey (Arsenal), Kenjac (NYC), Marina (Ronaldo), Reags (Spurs/FCC) and many other more established fans who have joined the pirate ship.

At the same time the soccer world has slowly, perhaps even begrudgingly come around on the fact that Barstool is a force to be reckoned with, and that some of our soccer coverage can and should actually be taken seriously. Don’t look now but in addition to weekend and midweek previews we have recently done interviews with (off the top of my head) players and coaches from MLS, NWSL, USL, USMNT, EPL, Championship, Ligue 1 and Eredivisie.

Long story short: I have spent a LOT of figurative blood, sweat, tears and time — oh so much time — over the last half-decade establishing a foothold for soccer within Barstool and a beachhead for Barstool within soccer. It has not been easy and a lot of people have called me an idiot for even trying, but thankfully I have a thick skin and the right combination of (barely) enough brains to put words together in a semi-coherent order while also being (plenty) dumb enough to keep pushing a boulder up a never-ending hill.

That brings us to this past weekend…

CHAPTER (2): THE LAST STRAW

Atlanta United tweeted out an episode of their official “Spike’d Up” podcast on which I was the invited guest. We talked about the club’s incredible rise and recent struggles, as well as the MLSisBack tournament and so on. In other words we talked soccer for 45 minutes.

The response was (in retrospect) perhaps as sadly predictable as it was fantastically dumb. Within minutes replies rolled in from people acting like the club had invited David Duke or Harvey Weinstein onto the podcast.

This is the yin and the yang of soccer fans. Passionate and opinionated — mostly for better but sometimes for worse — whether we know what we are talking about or not. It’s part of what makes us the best fans in the world, but can also make us overly judgmental and outspoken about those we perceive as not being in lockstep with our personal views — not just on sports but life in general (read: politics).

“This ain’t it”… “B*rstool? No thx”… “why would you associate with that trash”… “sexist/racist garbage company”… yadda yadda yadda.

They boil down to the same criticisms plagiarized from the same tired hit pieces. This is, of course, what happens anytime anyone at Barstool gets an ounce of mainstream shine. It’s an unfortunate cost of doing business around here. The (questionable) merits of most of these repeated criticisms — “anti-Semitic” being my favorite one of all given the irony — have been discussed at length so no need to rehash.

Small mea culpa: as you may have noticed, I responded to some of the people lobbing lazy allegations at Barstool/me, which perhaps isn't the shrewd thing to do, but for better and worse I'm not programmed to let stuff like that go unchallenged. Ah well. Anyway, that could have been the end of it. A little back and forth airing of opinions.

Instead of letting it die down, however, the small swinging phalluses of the big J soccer community decided to get in on the action to (a) score some likes/RTs and perhaps more importantly (b) try to convince other clubs that this repugnant behavior [ie, working with me] will not be tolerated. They blasted their displeasure about the situation to their minions and invited them pile on the hate-fest:

We got a pandemic suffocating the fun out of life. We got media companies axing journalists right and left (meaning fewer people available to give soccer the mainstream love it deserves). We got murder hornets running amok. We got rampant wiggle-dicking. There are a lot of bad things going on in the world right now. And yet these chucklenuts have decided that their #1 goal in life is to make sure that MLS clubs can’t raise their profile by working with me – someone who has never done anything to any of them (or anyone else minus proponents of VAR) – because of the lame-brain “Barstool is racist and sexist” refrain.

Unfortunately the blue checkmarks got their wish. Atlanta United deleted the tweet and in fact the entire episode.

It is EXTREMELY noticeable – and frankly telling – that anytime someone "attacks" me it NEVER has anything to do with something I have done or said (except for the sadsacks offended by cartoon testicles), and instead always relates to something someone else did or said – usually a bad joke from years ago, and something that person has already reckoned with.

I didn’t want to get in the mud. I simply want to cover soccer without dealing with people belittling and sabotaging me. But unfortunately this is the world we live in now: twitter is 99% people throwing stones from glass houses. So let's get in there and call some spades some spades…..


But first… HALFTIME BREAK… grab a little water, munch on some orange slices and watch this video of Wycombe fans celebrating their first-ever promotion to the EFL Championship as a nice reminder of why we are here in the first place: the pageantry and splendor of the world's most beautiful game:

We back! Time to ruffle some soccer twitter feathers!


CHAPTER (3) GLASS HOUSES

NOTE: Despite their constant attacks on me and my character, please do NOT go after anyone mentioned below on twitter or elsewhere.

First the low-hanging fruit: Jason Davis. Who? Exactly. Nobody. But this absolute nobody was thirsty for some twitter clout and decided to weigh in with his ignorant opinion:

Android. Of course.

Well, buddy, looks like you got caught with your greedy little hand in the clout cookie jar. Dang!

dis u?

Jason may be a nice guy who has simply bought into what people told him about big, bad Barstool. But imagine lazily calling another company – and everyone who works for them and with them – racist and sexist when these tweets of yours can be found with little to no effort. I’m not trying to get anyone in trouble. But stfu and stop peddling the bullshit (not to mention hypocritical) narratives.

Then there is the final boss of anti-Barstool soccer twitter: Grant Wahl. I considered saying something about Skeletor inseminating a tub of cool whip but I’m gonna keep it classy and stay away from personal attacks. (Even with sanctimonious clowns who have no problem labeling me racist and sexist? Even with sanctimonious clowns who have no problem labeling me racist and sexist.)

Wahl – although currently unemployed :( – was once one of the biggest names in the Big J soccer world. My man was employed by FOX for seven years until leaving last year, and worked for Sports Illustrated for 24 years. In fact, old boy would STILL be getting paid $350,000/year by SI if he didn't get shit-canned in April. He recently found woke jesus and, credit to him, has not been subtle about his hatred for B------l and anyone who works there or associates with us:

You're right, Grant! Very clear! But perhaps, since you are a big J journalist, you could do some actual RESEARCH next time before flapping that mouth of yours. How much Barstool content have you actually consumed? I hate making assumptions but you look like a guy who is too busy color-coding his wife’s sock drawer.

Wahl has avoided "bad tweets" as far as I know, which is good news, but does my man know ANYTHING at all about FOX and/or Sports Illustrated? Do we really need to discuss the sexual harassment lawsuits brought against your coworkers and the multi-million dollar payments they resulted in? Or a culture so godamn toxic that they made a fucking movie about it? Or your former FOX coworker who just got fired for being a white supremacist? Or the fact you were "doing journalism" for more than two decades while getting paid (handsomely) by a magazine that is best known for objectifying chicks in bikinis???

What kind of turd-blossom do you have to be to go through life, happily cashing those checks for DECADES without so much as a sanctimonious squeak, and then turn around weeks after you get thrown out on your ass and start demonizing everyone connected to Barstool – a company championing the careers of tons of women that has paid $0 to settle sexual harassment lawsuits – as being "racist and sexist”?

No, seriously.

What kind of turd-blossom do you have to be to go through life, happily cashing those checks for DECADES without so much as a sanctimonious squeak, and then turn around and start sabotaging me – a guy who is spent years hurting absolutely nobody, promoting women's soccer, calling out the systemic racism in our sport, and generally working quietly in the trenches to help grow the game – while preaching from your ivory tower like a haughty dickhead that I should not be allowed to work with MLS (or NWSL) clubs to help raise the leagues' profile by engaging a massive audience full of more casual or even non-fans??

Congrats, my dude, you are the world’s most hypocritical bag of sentient skim milk.

Good talk.

CHAPTER (4): THOUGHT EXPERIMENT

Finally, one last thing.

What if the person who Atlanta United had invited to be a guest on their podcast had been someone like Rachel Bonnetta, a one-time outspoken Barstool-hater

who has gotten noticeably quieter since teaming up with Clay Travis on some sorta FOX sports gambling show

Would the mob that is coming after me led by these hypocritical blue checkdoinks have demanded the episode be taken down if Atlanta United had invited Bonnetta to be the guest?

I will let you arrive at your own conclusion.

The point is NOT to disparage Bonnetta or her work. She is a female doing big things in a male-dominated industry and I respect the success she is having, and hopefully will continue to have. I don’t even hold it against Bonnetta that she said that Barstool is nothing but garbage with zero female voices (though all the strong, successful female voices at Barstool – Kayce, Ria, Fran, Kate, Liz, Trysta, Ellie, et al… not to mention CEO Erika Nardini and an all-female C-suite – may not be quite as forgiving).

Truth be told I don’t even hate Grant Wahl’s ill-informed, overly righteous ass despite all the incessant bullshit he has been spewing.

Lazy and out-of-touch. Grant Wahl. Can't speak any more plainly than that.

I am all for wanting to make the world a better place, and don't really care what company you work for or who signs your checks. We all gotta make a living – even haughty bellends. Just nix the sanctimonious, hypocritical grandstanding. That's it.

At the end of the day we are all working towards the same goal of helping America fall (more) in love with the beautiful game. It blows my mind when people suggest that sabotaging me will hurt Barstool. Thanks for thinking I am that important, I guess. Anyone thinking I am some kind of money-maker around here is sorely mistaken. If Wahl and his merry band of online anger-peddlers somehow did succeed in silencing me it would be no sweat off Barstool's back / bottom-line, but I think (or would like to hope anyway) that it'd do at least a small disservice to the game that we all love.

So that's the story. I'm not perfect. I mess up here and there.

But I own those mistakes – MY mistakes – and I don't go out looking to hurt other people. Is peaceful coexistence too much to hope for? I don't know. I guess we'll see. The bad news for the haters is that I'm not going anywhere. I have absolutely zero interest in perpetuating this "twitter beef" and would much rather pay attention to soccer. I think we can all agree that that is helluva lot more exciting than people bitching at one another on the internet.

Thanks to everybody who got this far – even if you were just hate-reading. You da real MVPs. Anyone who has actually followed my blogs/twitter/instagram knows what I am all about and I genuinely appreciate each and every one of you. Now back to the jogo bonito.

Holler,
Samuel Army