I've never been one for tearful goodbyes. When I leave Deadspin, I want to go out the same way I came in; crawling through the ductwork. I was going to rob the place, and ended up staying for three years. Anyway, how do you say goodbye to a guy who took you in and gave you the only other key to the site besides his, even though you were a practicing Branch Davidian? That took courage.
Why the Ned photo here? The way I look at it, we all have varying degrees of Nedness. Ned, of course, is a football player who -– despite being barely ambulatory -– hobbled into the maw of the fiercest college football melee of the decade, facing near-certain doom. It's hard to believe that he thought he could make a difference, or that he wouldn't get pummeled with his own crutches for his trouble. But damn it, he had to try. Will Leitch has a high degree of Nedness. What did he think he was doing that day in 2005, when he tugged at the bottom of Denton's suit jacket and timidly presented a worn spiral notebook crammed with ideas for a Gawker sports blog? A what? Who would read such a thing? But Will hurled himself into the fracas, and despite the odds, pretty much changed everything. That's so freakin' Ned.
I was fortunate enough to have a front row seat for it all. I got to read virtually every word Will has written since the beginning; the best part of my day has always been scrolling Deadspin to see what he's come up with. Just like you, I suspect. It hasn't really sunk in that he's actually leaving –- although writing this helps -– which means I'm still in the denial phase, I suppose. (I plan to skip the anger phase, and replace it with cinnamon Pop Tarts).
Anyway, thanks Will, for taking in a "mainstream" journalist and letting him occupy a small corner of this greatness. Thanks for putting up with my stupid ideas, for all the Love and Death quotes, for never letting me get discouraged, and for all those terms you invented which I stole and use in everyday conversation. You believed in me when few others did.
Good luck out there in the big non-Deadspin world, my friend. Leaving has to be a little bit scary, I'm sure. But, as Boris' mother said: "He will go, and I hope they put him on the front lines!"
"Thanks, mom. My mother, folks."