What A Difference A Year Makes
This is my first blog post for Barstool Sports. I plan on contributing to the blog quite a bit more moving forward. They will be covering a wide range of topics and am just going to let it fly on here.
Today is the one year anniversary of my last sip of alcohol. At the time, my radio station in Shreveport had just rebranded and let me go so I was unemployed and firing online poker in Oxford, Mississippi like the days of old. My producer Martin Black (Playboy Marty) had just been in Oxford for 10 days as we tried to build up our YouTube channel. We were boozing a bunch during that time & I realized I was gaining some weight. I made a decision to quit drinking for 3 months to try to get healthier for my lifestyle and to fight COVID in case I got it.
I was already exercising some at the time and on May 9th I decided to clean up my diet too. I melted for first 2 months dropping about 30 pounds rapidly. In early June, my brain started to heal and I felt re-born. I had drank for 20 years and had more than lived it up, ESPECIALLY in the last decade.
In June I went back to Monroe for the funeral of one of my closest friends. Andy Trahan fought stage 4 lung cancer for 7 years and inspired an entire community with his attitude. The first poker games I played in my life were at his house as a freshman in high school. He was one of my biggest fans. At the funeral reception, a bunch of my high school friends were trying to get me drinks. It was my first social outing since I had quit so I did not realize how awkward it was when I was standing around without a cup in my hand. I told Andy’s parents and my friends “I don’t know what’s going on with me right now, but it is special. Keep your eye on me the next year because something is going to happen.”
A couple of weeks later, I got the call from longtime 104.5 ESPN Baton Rouge radio host Jimmy Ott. He was starting a new show from 6-8 PM that was going to be sports gambling based and thought I was the right fit. I snap accepted and was in Baton Rouge 24 hours later. I went to bat hard for Playboy Marty to be our producer convincing Jimmy to hire him too.
I remember fondly the first day of GameTime when I drove down Highland Road in Baton Rouge and saw my name on the marquee at Ruffino’s Restaurant. We had a blast doing the show together for 3 months. Sales were picking up with lots of momentum. I had been coming on 104.5 ESPN Baton Rouge as the gambling picks guy on Off The Bench the morning show with T-Bob Hebert and Jordy Culotta since 2017 already so I was well known in the area. I was the only non LSU grad on the team down there which felt like an accomplishment. I was thinking I would be down there for 3-5 years to build my career as this was the job I wanted.
I got PRK eye surgery from Williamson Eye Center in late September to correct my horrendous vision. Then a week later, Ole Miss beat Kentucky by 1 point in an overtime thriller because the Kentucky kicker missed an extra point. Then Matt Corral hit the great Elijah Moore for a touchdown to win the game. I was super fired up about Lane Kiffin’s first SEC win. I was celebrating the victory & thank God Marty had the frame of mind to flip on his camera phone to film this for our social media.
Saturday night went by and I did not think much of it. T-Bob Hebert retweeted it at some point. Sunday morning I was driving to Natchez, Mississippi for our NFL kickoff show with Jimmy Ott and former LSU and New England Patriot QB Rohan Davey when my phone went off like a nuclear bomb. It was because Dave Portnoy tweeted the video with the caption that SEC football hits different. Then he followed me on Twitter sending me a direct message asking if that was me on the video. “Damn right that’s me” I responded. He then messaged they were ready for me to come to work at Barstool Sports. I jumped out of my chair at Magnolia Bluffs Sportsbook in Natchez in shock.
Dave called me the next afternoon when I was standing out by The Bluffs in Natchez along the Mississippi River. I said hello & his first words were “Your voice sounds exactly how I hoped it would. Listen…I don’t know everything about life, but I have an eye for talent and you are my guy!” I tried to play it cool and he sent me an offer a few days later. I accepted and recommended Marty come with me as a producer. Barstool agreed and we were in Manhattan 3 weeks later.
Dave threw me on The Rundown with him and Big Cat the first day with 10 seconds of preparation. He initially asked Brandon Walker but then said “I am going with the other Mississippi guy!” I thought I killed it to immediately set the tone that I was not going to be messing around at Barstool Sports.
My first 6 months have been incredible. The amount of support I am getting from Mississippi and Louisiana is mind blowing. I absolutely love working in the office and all the characters from all different backgrounds that make up the pirate ship. There are too many great stories to share here, but I am very thankful to all of the people who support me and for Dave, Erika and Big Cat for taking a chance on me.
I was just in Oxford for the first time on a big trip since I got hired. The reception warmed my soul. It was completely surreal to go back to the town I lived in for 10 years to that kind of a reception and I will never forget it.
I have lost 55-60 pounds in the last year. I've gone from unemployed in Oxford to working at Barstool Sports in Manhattan. I'm running 10-15 miles a week and have been working out with a trainer…I even got new vision along the way. I am living a journey I would never believe and it all started with the decision to quit drinking alcohol to clean up the way I lived my life one year ago.
I leave you guys with this Rolling Stones song lyric. “When your late night friends leave you in the cold gray dawn, may the good Lord shine a light on you!”
More blogs to come soon and I thank you for coming on this journey.