Change is afoot for the Washington Redskins, who have parted ways with president Bruce Allen, 12 weeks after doing likewise with coach Jay Gruden. The next wave of NFL leaders in coaches’ offices and front offices is about to spin on the carousel.
Chronicling the comings and goings is essential in my chosen profession. But all too often lately, discussing our own “goings” has become a thing in this business.
Today marks that time for yours truly: This is my last column for The Washington Times, ending a run that began in 2011, when former sports editor Mike Harris brought me on board.
The local sports landscape at the time was very different.
The Nationals were coming off a 93-loss season in Jim Riggleman’s lone full season as manager. The Capitals were in the midst of winning their fourth consecutive division title without advancing to the conference finals. The Mystics won just six games in 2011 and only five in 2012.
But a couple of similarities to the present remain: The Wizards were finishing their third consecutive season with 56 or more losses, while the ‘Skins would soon register a fourth consecutive season in the NFC East cellar.
I can never thank Harris enough for allowing me to resume a journalism career that began on Labor Day 1985, at USA Today. In 2009, with the newspaper industry cratering all around, I had accepted a buyout from Gannett, with no certainty that another opportunity would ever materialize.
That actually was my second plunge into the great unknown.
In May 1991, several months after what began as a long-distance marriage, I resigned from the Press & Sun-Bulletin because living in Binghamton, N.Y., was a nonstarter for us. My love for Vanessa defeated my love of journalism, and the unexpected bounty was fantastic — a nine-year stint at newly launched USA Today Baseball Weekly.
Even as the industry gradually has turned away from co-workers of similar age and experience over the years, my affection for journalism hasn’t waned. I grew up reading the New York tabloids every day — naturally, from the back to the front — and newspapers remain a part of daily life. Except now, my bills include several digital subscriptions and reading newsprint is a rarity.
Journalists seemingly are just as rare nowadays, and the level of respect they’re shown is down sharply.
But this has been a great way to make a living for 34 years, especially covering sports.
I always chuckle inwardly whenever someone asks: “Do you get in games for free?” The query is answered with a query: “Do you pay to go to work?” Then I explain how fans can watch a game from beginning to end and be done with it, but many journalists are there hours before the game and hours afterward.
Watching for enjoyment is more fun than watching for employment. In the latter circumstances, you root against overtime and dramatic swings that create extra labor. The preference is for deadline-friendly contests that don’t cause massive last-minute revisions. And it’s easy to become jaded if you’re not careful.
But whether you have a ticket or a media credential, whether you watch from your living room or the press box, the unscripted nature of sports still serves as a welcome narcotic.
There’s no escaping the tension when Howie Kendrick faces Will Harris late in Game 7 of the World Series. Or Lars Eller jams in a loose puck behind Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Or Malcolm Butler intercepts a Russell Wilson goal-line pass with 20 seconds left in the Super Bowl. Or Kyrie Irving drains a 3-pointer over Steph Curry late in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
Nothing else in entertainment compares. Being paid to write about the action — while covering the personalities, chemistry and conflicts that make seasons as unique as fingerprints — is among the best jobs imaginable.
I’m reminded of that fact as I exit, maybe for the last time, maybe not. If this is the end, though, returning purely to fan status is a nice consolation. Happy New Year!
Peace and blessings.
Follow the Brooklyn-born and Howard-educated Deron Snyder Twitter at @DeronSnyder.