So You've Been Named The Editor-In-Chief Of Barstool Sports. Now What?
I mostly want to tell the journey of how I got here and lay out some of the goals I hope to accomplish given my newfound position. But in order to do that I sorta have to Tarantino this shit and not stick to the timeline in which things happened.
None of this would be possible without having Keith in my corner. He’s the only one who saw me for what I ever truly wanted to be - a writer. Even as an intern, Dave hated my writing. Back in 2011 there wasn’t much room for long form on the blog. Anything over 300 words was essentially a novel. If you’ve ever listened to me on a podcast, you know brevity isn’t exactly my strong suit. Barstool was then as it is now: an open forum sans direction from above. It is an extreme sink or swim operation in which I completely drowned during my first crack at it. But the random gasps for air as my limbs flailed in the vast waters came in the form of being published to Barstool U. People reading the site now may well not even remember the genuine divide which was the city based platforms Dave initially built. I wasn’t good enough to be featured on boston.barstoolsports.com. But a couple of times I found myself decent enough to stumble into something worthy of being published on Barstool U.
I know Keith doesn’t remember this, we’ve talked about it since. One afternoon during the Summer of ’11, Dave told me to stop putting blogs in the drafts of the Boston site and instead start posting on Barstool U. I took this as a green light to get something up immediately and posted a blog about a weird looking fox. The type of real groundbreaking edgy shit you come to our corner of the internet for. Within minutes Dave came down from his perch in the old Milton office to refill his water and politely ask me if my brain was broken. I was doing a decent amount of Molly at the time, so it wasn’t an unfair question by any stretch. He said he just received an email from the guy who runs Barstool U asking who the fuck I was and what was I doing posting terrible blogs without talking to anyone first. I was told to save them as drafts and Keith would continue to curate Barstool U and post my blogs only if they were good enough. I apologized to Keith as it was my fault for completely misunderstanding the situation. I kept writing, I got some blogs up over the next few months, and my internship ultimately fizzled out.
Years later, after I had been rehired to run our social media channels, Dave instructed me to start posting videos that were going viral to the blog. I lit up. I was overjoyed. “You want me to blog?!” Not quite. I posted the tweets of the videos to the blog under the name…. Viral. No context. No additional commentary. Not even my own name. Dave doesn’t think I’m a good writer. These “Viral” posts on the blog performed decently but could be better. And that’s where for the second time in my career, Keith stepped up. He suggested that “Viral” should be killed and that my name should be attached. Not just attached, but I should add “a couple of sentences” to give it the appearance of a traditional blog. Suffice to say that’s the proverbial inch I needed to start sprinting miles. Like a golden retriever in an open field, this was my time to run. I stuck to the plan throughout that football season, but once that ended I noticed the weekends were a barren wasteland of opportunity. I took that as my chance to step out as more than a viral clips guy. I thought back to how Big Cat made his name early on in his career - be weird, work tirelessly, utilize Saturdays when no one else will. I started writing conspiracy blogs. I started finding a voice. None of that happens without Keith giving me the opportunity to prove myself. I now take the baton from him and look to build upon the readymade home he’s constructed for me. Make no mistakes about it, Dave built this empire brick by brick with his bare hands. But Keith will forever be the first Editor-in-Chief in this history of this website. He did an incredible job and I will continue to look to him for the advice and leadership he has given me every time I’ve turned to him over the years. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Keith.
Dave has never known what to do with me. During one of our livestreams in the middle of the Red Sox 2018 World Series run he remarked that I was one of the most unpredictable people he had ever spoken to. He said with most people you somewhat know their take before they ever open their mouths, but with me he never knew what side of an issue I was going to fall on. But while Dave never quite knew what to do with me, he always believed I belonged in some form or fashion. We talk a lot about the “weird brains” Barstool attracts. When Dave was introduced to me in 2010, he knew within 24 hours that my weird, damaged brain had a place in this universe.
I was a Junior at UMass-Amherst, taking a multimedia course. This course is the reason I had to get a Twitter account, which will become significant later on. This was the only class that ended up being remotely worth the tuition. We were tasked with creating an original video for Youtube with the goal being to generate as many views and comments as possible. This was the perfect storm for me in a lot of ways: I was both lazy AND hated being on camera. I knew Dave was coming to UMass in the coming weeks to put on a concert at the Mullins Center. Sammy Adams was his modern day Marky Mark and Dave was going to ride him to the top. I still very much do not like people from the suburbs claiming they’re from Boston, so I decided to make a one minute diss to Sammy Adams for naming his album “Boston’s Boy.” I wore a Detroit Tigers hat so low over my eyes you’d think I was prepping for a trip to the grocery store in the COVID world of today. The class met once a week at 6 pm. I recorded and uploaded this video to Youtube at 6:05 pm the day of. I got to class late, played it to a room of both shocked and disgusted 20-year olds and that was just about that. I put a link on my Facebook page in an attempt to generate comments and went on with my life. Assignment done.
I woke up the next morning to roughly 100 text messages. A cold sweat ran down my back. It had made its way to Dave, and Dave had a goddamn field day eviscerating me. Dave knows how to promote better than the vast majority of humans who have ever existed. He saw this as an opportunity to move tickets and pump up his guy. “The Sam Adams Haters Have A Face” is the blog that effectively changed my life. Part of the assignment was to respond to the comments. To my knowledge no one else in the class was receiving death threats en masse so I had to improvise. I made another video. My two biggest influences in this world have always been Conan O’Brien and Cam’ron Giles. Conan isn’t much of a shit talker, so I could only draw from Killa Cam. Every Dip Set video I watched was full of top tier trash talk and superfluous blunt smoke. That was my second video. I was talking too much, the blunt kept going out. This remains a point of contention in my life. That was a pearl and I’ll fight about it for the rest of my days. But, most importantly, I turned in Dave’s mind. He posted me again, I had won him over. He thought I was funny. I racked up over a quarter million views by the time the next class met. I got an A. The rest of the class hated me. Sucks to suck.
Dave never saw me as a writer. He’s a gut feeling guy, and to his credit that gut feeling has made him wealthy. His initial impressions of my writing was that it was bad and that’s what remains in his mind even still. Yes even after he named me EIC. But regardless of any of that, he knew I belonged. He’s given me two opportunities to prove myself - once as an intern, again as a social media manager. I squandered the first so bad I probably didn’t deserve the second. But one thing I accomplished during that internship that stuck with him is my accountability. I showed up. Every day. I never left early. I never asked for anything. I tried. I failed miserably, but I tried. So when it came time to try again, this time in a position with structure and obvious tasks, he knew my effort would be there. And it was, I didn’t miss anything. I was glued to my phone and television for three straight years before I looked up and took a breath. Social Media Manager sounds like a dweeb millennial job title, and for the most part that’s true, but for this specific company it’s more than that. When things go viral, when news breaks, when the biggest plays in sports happen, I was the first voice of this company to the rest of the world. I represented the stool and stars in real time and I took that very seriously. In my mind I was running prime Bob Saget America’s Funniest Home Videos and the SportsCenter Top 10 every single day. While I’ve always disagreed with Dave’s assessment of my writing, I cannot lie: being forced into Twitter made me a better writer. It made me think shorter, figure out ways to be funnier faster.
I was forced into Twitter after Facebook suspended my account for posting Smokeshows of the day to the Barstool Facebook page during my time as an intern. It was only a three month ban, but I still hold that grudge. That pushed me to Twitter full time, nine years ago. Twitter gave me a much better look into the internet and ultimately set me up for the success I’ve found myself in today. Twitter also helped me kill hours upon hours of the time I wasted as a security guard. I was doing 12-hour shifts on the Bird, trying to make people laugh and finding different pockets of the internet I still use to my advantage. It was because of my time on there that prompted Gaz to reach out to me when he started really building out Barstool’s social channels. Without Gaz, I’m currently working in a dispensary somewhere after a few more miserable years punching the clock in apartment buildings across Massachusetts. September 2015 he had me try out against someone else for the position. We rotated days for the entire month. It wasn’t a particularly close competition. I had been waiting for this opportunity for four long years, I wasn’t going to lose. By October 1st I had a job offer, I was back full time, I was genuinely happy for the first time in many moons. Gaz has always been in my corner, from my time as an intern to my years working side by side running the social team. I sincerely thank him for everything he has done for me over these last nine years. I couldn’t be here without him.
What Gaz understands is what I understand about this place: the tone. Our tone and authenticity is what separates us from the pack. While Gaz is our second longest tenured employee, I’d argue there’s been no one reading Barstool longer than me. Anyone truly familiar with Dave knows his best friend, Elio. Elio owns Tony’s Place, a restaurant in West Roxbury. Tony’s Place is directly next to Catholic Memorial. I went to Catholic Memorial from 7th-12th grade, from ’01-’07. Dave’s newspapers routinely ended up in the halls of CM via the stack of ‘em at Tony’s Place. For an all boy’s catholic school, a newspaper plastered with scantily clad women was a match made in heaven. That’s how long I’ve been tied to this company. Since the very beginning. I was an avid reader of the site throughout my entire college tenure. Where I’m at now was always my goal. To write here, to inherit Boston from Dave and run with what he had built. Truth be told, I fucking HATED Feitelberg. I still do, only for much different reasons. I saw him as my primary competition to take over Boston from Dave. Not only was he my primary competition, he had a massive leg up on me back in 2011 and I had no clue how I was to overtake him. I’ve never told him this, and I don’t know if he can read, so this might stay our little secret. But I’m glad the websites merged and went into a different direction so that I didn’t have to plan a poisoning of some sort to take him out.
We’re here now. I was named Editor-in-Chief via Twitter quotes of a podcast, tied to the hiring of Frank the Tank. Communication has never been our strength. That is something I’m hoping to change. I’ve appointed the Erics to my staff. Both Hubbs and Nate care deeply and passionately about the blog and are both tremendous writers in their own ways. I will be leaning on them to help carry out my vision moving forward. The changes you will notice will roll out over the coming months. There’s a lot of ingrained thinking I need to try and remove from people’s brains and get into what I believe will be a sustainable way of operating long term. It all hinges on communication and that falls squarely on me. I want to emphasize quality over quantity. That doesn’t mean you, the reader, will be stuck with a lack of content. If anything I anticipate you spending more time with us. We own the podcast space, our videos have always been top tier, yet the blog has withered as our better writers have moved on in pursuit of more tantalizing opportunities. When this website was at its peak you knew the blog you were clicking was going to be funny. The goal is to get back to that. I plan on running point guard to ensure that stories and topics end up in the right writer’s hands. I want to move towards specialization. I want to highlight our strongest pieces, curating the superpage so that our best stories don’t get the same amount of shine as a disposal piece of news that will be forgotten in 15 minutes.
I want to thank Erika for allowing me this opportunity. She’s had my back since she first met me and has been more generous than need be to me and my family. When my father died several months after I moved to New York, Erika took 10 hours out of her day to make a 20 minute appearance at his wake. She didn’t tell me she was coming up from New York to Boston, she didn’t have to do that for one of her lowest ranking employees, but she did. It’s impossible to not work as hard as humanly possible for someone when they treat you with that kind of respect and compassion. Her success is not accidental, and I look forward to continue to build underneath her vision.
Kevin and Dan have both been incredible resources to me over the years. Having the pillars of this company constantly be available to bounce ideas off of and seek out advice is an invaluable tool. (Invaluable is a stupid word that looks like it means the opposite of what it means and I look forward to my first meeting with the fine people at Miriam-Webster to change the majority of the English language to fit my preferred lexicon.) I thank them both for not only allowing me to bend their ears with my ideas but for allowing me to collaborate behind the scenes and standing next to me during a time of strife and uncertainty.
For my wife - yes I’m going to thank my wife like this is an acceptance speech at the Oscars or some shit - thank you for being my rock. For holding down our family while I continue to chase my dreams. None of this would be possible without you pushing me, believing in my vision for us, and being the most thoughtful and caring mother for our beautiful seven month old daughter. I love you with my whole heart and I could not pull this off without you by my side.
To Tyler, thank you for being a true friend. For your unwavering support. For helping raise my own profile and for doing Mickstape in a way that only we could. Thank you for understanding me and our mutual respect for each other's decisions. A friend like you comes along but once in a great while, if ever at all, and I'll cherish it for the rest of our days on this floating blue rock.
To you, yes that’s right, you. You reading this right now. Thank you. Thank you for clicking my blogs, following the accounts I run, telling me I suck and that I can’t look up, for buying my merch, indulging my idiot brain from time to time. It’s cliche but without you literally none of this matters. There are a million websites that get zero traffic and have no one reading a goddamn thing. So thank you. All I ask is that you hold me to a standard of excellence set out by everyone before me. All I care about is the quality, that you enjoy this place enough to share what we create with the people you love.
And for Dave, I know for a fact you have not read any of this. But that doesn’t matter. Thank you. Sincerely, thank you. Thank you for trusting me time and time again with more and more responsibility. Thank you for giving me multiple platforms to have my voice heard. Thank you for making me the first person in my family to enter a different tax bracket. We’ve disagreed on plenty in the past and I’m positive we’ll disagree on more in the future. But those will come and go. As long as we continue to share the same goals for this website, none of that other shit matters.