False Start: How My Very Short Time at Sports Illustrated Came to an End

Good morning. I spent most of the weekend going through the five stages of grief (or 25, or 35) about getting the heave-ho from Sports Illustrated, which I’ve found much harder to deal with than when ESPN let me go. I realize that may sound surprising, given that I’d been with ESPN for nearly 15 years and with SI for less than two months. But I had seen the ESPN situation coming and was prepared for it, while the SI development was a complete surprise that I’m still having a tough time processing. So I’m going to talk about that today.

Many of you have asked, basically, “What happened?!” Here’s the short version of how Thursday’s events unfolded:

Last Thursday morning I woke up to learn that all SI employees, myself included, had received an email summoning them to one of two “transition meetings.” (The emails had gone out late the previous night, but I didn’t realize it until I woke up in the morning.) Several media outlets were reporting that one meeting was for people who’d be laid off — about 40 employees, according to some reports — and the other was for the people who’d be retained. My meeting was at noon, but it wasn’t clear to me if that was the “Good news” meeting or the “Buh-bye” meeting. The prospect of layoffs was upsetting, but I figured my job was probably safe. After all, they had just hired me, so why would they fire me?

Since I normally work at home, I could have dialed in to the meeting by phone. But I thought I should be there in person, so I went to the office and arrived at the designated conference room just in time to learn that the meetings had been postponed. It wasn’t clear when they’d be rescheduled — maybe later that day, maybe not — so I decided to stick around at the office instead of going home. I spent the afternoon in the newsroom, where everyone was, understandably, very upset. While I was there, I learned that my meeting was for people who were being let go.

Ugh. But I was still somewhat in denial. Why would they let me go after less than two months? Maybe the meetings had been postponed because they were recalculating who would be kept and who would be let go..?

Shortly before 4pm, we all received emails telling us that the meetings had been rescheduled. My meeting was now slated for 4:15. All of the 4:15 people dutifully shuffled down to the conference room, where an executive told us that SI’s transfer to new ownership, which had been in the works for months, was now complete. He then explained that we were not in the new owners’ plans going forward, so this would be our last day. And that was that. My time at SI was over.

Here’s the part where I try to anticipate your questions:

Did you see this coming?

Not even a little bit. It was a complete surprise.

Why did they hire you in the first place if they were going to keep you for such a short period?

Good question! My first day on staff was Aug. 12, and my last day turned out to be Oct. 3, which means I was an SI employee for a total of only 53 days. When I announced that SI would be hiring me, I acknowledged that SI had been through some ownership turmoil but said, “The digital editor who brought me on board tells me that his new bosses have asked him who he wants to hire, not how he can cut costs.” That editor — a guy who’d been a fan of my work for years and said he’d been waiting for the chance to work with me — also said he’d been assured that he would have a big role in charting SI’s future, and that he wanted me to be part of that future.

That editor lost his job on Thursday, just like I did. The new owners either changed their minds or simply lied to him (and to lots of other people).

I want to make it clear that I have no gripes with anyone at SI. Everyone I worked with there was awesome, and everything that happened last week was orchestrated by the new owners, not by the people who brought me on board. It sucks that it worked out this way — not just for me, but for lots and lots of other people.

Why were the original meetings postponed?

Apparently there was some dotting and crossing that still remained to be done regarding SI’s transfer to the new ownership, and it took a few hours longer than had been anticipated. Those four hours in between the original meetings and the rescheduled meetings were pretty surreal — lots of stress, lots of people with dazed looks, lots of people demanding explanations from higher-ups who couldn’t do anything but shrug their shoulders, lots of people who basically knew they were dead men (and women) walking.

Did anyone explain to you why you weren’t retained, or who made that decision?

No, except I was assured by the guy who hired me (who, as I just mentioned, also lost his job) and by the guy who’d been my direct supervisor that the decision didn’t come from them.

Did anyone have any issues with your work?

Not that I’m aware of. Personally, I’m proud of the work I did for SI (especially the story about the Cubs’ black cat batboy), and everyone there seemed happy with it as well.

I don’t think this had anything to do with me or my writing. I think it was about bean-counting and clearing out the old regime. Whoever made the decision, I’d be willing to bet that that person had no idea who I am or what I write about. I was probably just a name and a salary on a spreadsheet.

You had done some freelance pieces for SI before they brought you on staff. Can you go back to doing freelance stuff for them?

For reasons not worth explaining here, I can’t do that right away. Maybe later on down the road — we’ll see.

So what will happen your NBA Season Preview?

I’d love to partner with a platform that wants to publish it. (If you’re an editor and would like to discuss, contact me.) If I can’t find one within the next week or so, I’ll publish it here on the blog.

What about the College Hoops Preview?

Honestly, I’m not sure about that one. That project is a huge undertaking, because there are over 300 schools to contact and keep track of. If I can find a media outlet that will publish it for a fair rate, I’ll do it. If not, I may skip it this year. Sorry.

What about the annual Gift Guide?

Again, I’d love to find a high-profile outlet for it. If I can’t find one, I’ll do it here on the blog.

When you announced the SI deal, you said you had an offer from another media outlet on the table when the SI offer came through. Will you get back in touch with that other outlet?

Yes, of course. But they weren’t happy when I took the SI offer, so I’m not sure they’ll want to deal with me again. We’ll see.

Wow, that sure makes it sound like you made a big mistake by taking the SI offer.

I’ve engaged in a bit of second-guessing. But I know the decision I made was the right decision based on the information I had at the time. The SI offer was made and accepted in good faith. Nobody expected things to play out the way they did. It sucks that I may have burned a bridge to another media outlet in the process, but I didn’t double-cross them or anything like that, and I can’t do anything about how they reacted.

Have you considered partnering with The Athletic, or SB Nation, or The Ringer, or [insert media outlet here]? They seem like a perfect fit for you!

I can assure you that I was in touch with all of the obvious places (along with some non-obvious ones) after ESPN let me go. I’ll be revisiting some of those contacts now. I also have a sportswriting project I want to pursue that’s not quite uni-related but sort of uni-adjacent. If any sports editors are reading this and would like to discuss working with me, I’m all ears.

In the last edition of Question Time, you said you’d never work for Barstool Sports under any circumstances. Are you rethinking that position?

Not even a little bit.

In between your ESPN and SI periods, you were doing lots of freelance articles about non-sports topics (cupped pepperoni, collectors and their collections, the history of mailbox design, etc.), and then you stopped doing those after SI hired you. Will you go back to doing those kinds of articles now?

Probably, yeah. Or at least I’ll go back to pitching those kinds of stories. We’ll see if anyone wants to publish them. If you’re a non-sports editor and would like to discuss working with me, please get in touch.

There’s also a filmmaking project I’ve been thinking about, so this may be the time to start exploring that. One small problem is that I know nothing about filmmaking. If you work in that world and would like to offer some guidance or even possibly collaborate with me, you know what to do.

What will happen to your health insurance?

Like any terminated employee, I’m eligible for COBRA benefits. Not sure what it’ll cost me — I’m supposed to receive a packet about that soon. It sure was nice to have a two-month taste of employer-provided insurance (something I hadn’t experienced since 1996), and it sucks to have to go back to paying for it on my own again.

But even if I had stayed on, my SI health insurance wasn’t such a bargain, because changing to a new plan meant I was suddenly responsible for a new deductible, even though I had already met my deductible on the plan I’d been using for the first eight months of the year (which means my recent bike accident may end up being very expensive, because the ER room charges from that accident are my first charges under the new plan — I’m waiting to see how that gets processed). What a mess.

I’ll keep saying it: It is completely insane that health insurance in this country is treated as a perk of one’s employment status, rather than as a basic human necessity. As an American, I find it embarrassing that the rest of the developed world has figured that out while we lag behind with such an unfair system; as a freelancer (once again), I find it infuriating that I am (once again) bearing the brunt of that unfairness. (Side note: If we decoupled health insurance from employment, maybe certain people wouldn’t make fools of themselves quite so often.)

What will happen to this website?

Uni Watch is still fun, plus I’m now back in the position of the site being my primary source of income, so for now I plan to keep publishing every day.

How are you? Are you okay?

I’m not gonna lie: Losing two anchor gigs in less than a year has been rough. As I mentioned at the top of today’s entry, at least I saw the ESPN situation coming and was prepared for it, but the SI layoff blindsided me and has been pretty tough to swallow. On a rational/logical level, I know I’ll probably be okay (plus it’s fun to be the answer to a trivia question). But on an emotional level, this turn of events has been exhausting. I feel really worn out.

In addition, I’ve been facing some problems in some other areas of my life lately, so it was nice to at least have the work/career stuff squared away. And while my previous free agency (i.e., the period in between ESPN and SI) wasn’t awful, it did involve a lot of hustling, meeting, negotiating, pitching, selling, dealing with various forms of rejection, etc., etc., and it was a relief to be past that period. The thought of switching my brain back to that mode is a bit soul-crushing.

And here’s the thing: I thought I handled all of that hustling, negotiating, and so on the right way. I turned down the bad offers, held out for good ones, blah-blah-blah. When the SI offer finally came, it felt like a validation — like, I’d made good decisions and was reaping good results. But now it turns out that the results weren’t so good after all. Which means maybe I didn’t actually make such good decisions (an upsetting thought), or maybe the universe doesn’t actually reward good decision-making with positive outcomes (an even more upsetting thought).

Can we do anything to help?

Many of you have already helped a lot, as I’ve received hundreds of supportive comments, emails, and tweets from the Uni Watch comm-uni-ty. Thanks so much, people — means a lot, really.

But again, not gonna lie: Uni Watch could really use your financial support. That was true even before the SI news — this site takes a huge amount of time, energy, and money to produce every day — but it’s particularly true now. If you have the means, please consider making a donation, enrolling for a membership, or ordering some merchandise.

Weren’t you going to redesign the site with a voluntary-payment system like Patreon?

Yes, I’ve been talking about doing that for a while now, but I’ve been lazy about actually making it happen. The time may finally have come to do it.

Given what the new owners reportedly have planned for SI, do you think maybe you dodged a bullet?

If the reports are true, SI’s future does indeed sound pretty awful, and the early returns are not good. But I have friends still working there, so I hope they succeed and that everything works out for them.

———

Here’s a little bonus story: After the meeting at which we were laid off, people gathered in the newsroom to commiserate, hug, vent, and so on. This was only my third time in the office since being hired, and I still hadn’t met most of my colleagues. Many of them had worked together for years, even decades, so I felt a little bit like an intruder at an intimate moment. I was one of them, but not really one of them, you know? It was a weird feeling.

Anyway, I decided I should introduce myself to these people on our last day working together — sort of a “Hi … and bye” thing. So I went around the room saying, “Hi, I’m Paul.” People told me their names, sometimes told me what their jobs had been, mostly talked about how much they’d miss being at SI. And then I had this exchange:

“Hi, I’m Paul.”

“Hey, I’m Daniel [Rapaport, a golf/tennis writer who was also sacked]. I don’t really recognize you — are you new here?”

“Yeah, I just started about six or seven weeks ago, but I mostly work at home, so I never got to meet most of you.”

Six weeks? They’re letting you go after six weeks? That’s just nuts. Like, did they lay off that Uni Watch guy too?”

Yes, that really happened. Someone standing nearby explained to Daniel why this was hilarious, we all laughed, and then we all went out to the closest bar.

It was helpful for me to be able to write all of this. Thanks for listening.

• • • • •

• • • • •

For all pics in this section, click to enlarge

Monday Morning Uni Watch: The Jets and Eagles staged the Battle of the Green Helmets yesterday. I’m not 100% positive, but I think this was the first time two green-helmeted NFL teams played each other since Dec. 14, 1996, when these same two teams faced off. As a lifelong green fan, I hope we don’t have to wait another 23 years for it to happen.

In other news from around the league yesterday:

• The Panthers wore their blue alternates:

• The Bengals wore their orange alternates:

• The Saints went mono-black:

• There is no NFL uni decision more tragic than when the Chiefs inexplicably opt to go mono-red, as they did last night:

• The Cardinals added a memorial decal for owner Bill Bidwill, who died last week:

• Lots of people noticed that the Packers had a training bag on the sideline featuring the team’s old “GB” monogram (which dates back to the Lombardi era):

• Yesterday marked the start of the league’s annual Rainbowtober cancer-awareness initiative. Each team gets to designate one home game for this program, so some of yesterday’s games featured rainbow-patterned captaincy patches, “A Crucial Catch” helmet decals, and assorted other cancer messaging:

• Here’s something you don’t often see: After Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph was knocked out cold by a big hit (a seriously scary moment), trainers removed the facemask from his helmet but left the helmet on. So when he got to his feet and was helped off the field a few minutes later, he looked like an old-school maskless player:


 

• Two teams wore white at home: the Titans and, of course, the Cowboys.

———

This would normally be the place where I point you toward SI so you could see my picks for the best- and worst-looking games of the week. Obviously, I won’t be sending you SI-ward anymore, and I didn’t have the energy to do a full best/worst write-up today. For now, let’s just say I thought best the week’s best-looking game was Packers/Cowboys (although it would have looked even better at Lambeau) and the worst was Cardinals/Bengals and leave it at that.

• • • • •

• • • • •

Click to enlarge

ITEM! Another Vintage Brand raffle: The folks at our longtime advertiser Vintage Brand are generously running another raffle. The lucky winner will get to choose any product from the VB website (including stainless steel tumblers like the ones shown above, which VB has just started offering).

To enter this raffle, send an email to the raffle address by 7pm Eastern this Thursday, Oct. 10. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner on Friday.

• • • • •

• • • • •

Click to enlarge

Spooooky: I like a good jack o’-lantern (and Brinke will have some of those for you tomorrow), but most other Halloween decorations usually don’t do all that much for me. Still, I really like what this one guy in my neighborhood did with his house. Kinda like that scene from Jason and the Argonauts, right? Nicely done.

• • • • •

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Jamie Rathjen

Baseball News: Yesterday’s Braves/Cards NLDS game had a big ad projected onto the batter’s eye. This isn’t the first time this has been done, but it’s still pretty gross. … In more news from that series, the Braves say they “take seriously” the concerns expressed by Cards P Ryan Helsley regarding Atlanta fans’ use of the tomahawk chop. Helsley, a member of the Cherokee Nation who can trace his ancestry back to the Trail of Tears, is not happy abou the chop. … Yankees P Masahiro Tanaka missed a belt loop the other day (from @brianspeaksnow).

Football News: More NFL watch shenanigans: Injured Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was fined for wearing an Apple Watch on the sidelines last Monday, even though he wasn’t in uniform. … The school of the day yesterday from Blaise D’Sylva‘s helmet collection was Kansas State. … Purdue is apparently teasing a new helmet (from Jason Miller). … Two Calgary Stampeders DBs were wearing red socks on Saturday instead of the team’s black road socks (from Wade Heidt). … Also from Wade: the Toronto Argonauts wore white socks instead of light blue away from home, and Pinktober is here in the CFL. … You can see Canadian college uni tracking from Wade in yesterday’s comments. … Uni Watch membership card designer Scott M. X. Turner tells us that two New Orleans high schools, Holy Cross (blue/gold) and Jesuit (white), wore a reproduction of one of the college football 100th-anniversary helmet decals to commemorate their 100th meeting. … The police officer escorting Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi off the field on Saturday wore a pink badge.

Hockey News: The Flames’ trainers have jackets that match the team’s throwbacks (from Wade Heidt). … Also from Wade: The WHL’s Kelowna Rockets (white) wore black helmets for two away games this weekend, instead of the usual white. … The NOB font on the Avalanche’s third jerseys now matches the font on the primary jerseys (from Brad Harding). … A Penguins fan site keeps track of the design of the team’s pucks each season and added this season’s. … The AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack now have their logo on the front of all their jerseys, instead of a “Wolf Pack” script (from Christian Gardecki).

Basketball News: The New York Daily News did an interview with Eric Haze, the designer of the Nets’ new alternate (from John F.). … You can see new and changed NBA numbers on Etienne Catalan‘s Twitter feed. … New uniforms for Rhode Island (from @ANewEnglandGuy).

Soccer News: Teams and officials in Scotland — only men’s teams this week, but probably women’s teams next week — wore warm-up shirts and the annual patch decal for the charity Show Racism the Red Card. The decal is basically a sticker and perpetually has trouble staying on; I don’t have a picture, but I happened to see it peeling off one Hibernian player. … Some players on the NWSL’s Orlando Pride dyed some or all of their hair pink in support of Pride center-back Toni Pressley, who began treatment for breast cancer in August. … Miami (Fla.)’s women’s team wore pink shirts on Friday. … Departing USWNT coach Jill Ellis got a No. 132 shirt, in reference to the number of games she was in charge of the team (also from Jakob Fox). … The USWNT Players’ Association asked fans to wear white yesterday to support equal pay for the team. … The Portland Timbers changed to white at home and wore city flag-themed numbers and pink warm-up shirts yesterday (from Josh Hinton). … You can see more on Josh’s Twitter feed. … Retiring Houston Dynamo full-back DaMarcus Beasley received a commemorative captain’s armband listing all the teams he’s played for.

Grab Bag: Teams in women’s college sports outside of soccer that wore pink this weekend included Cal, Central Michigan, and UC Davis field hockey; fewer than I expected, but October is young. … A few days ago, Jeremy Brahm told us that Polish volleyball teams would add their city names to their nets. Now we know what they look like. … Jeremy also tells us that officials in the Polish volleyball leagues also have a new look, and the Russian men’s volleyball team Nova Novokuybyishevsk has a new logo.

44 comments to False Start: My Very Short Time at Sports Illustrated

  • DenverGregg | October 7, 2019 at 8:08 am |

    unless (a) the nfl changes its scheduling formula or (b) the Eagles drop green helmets before then, there should be another regular season game where both teams where green helmets during the 2023 season

  • James Gilbert | October 7, 2019 at 8:16 am |

    Ray Harryhausen reference FTW.

  • Austin Ledley | October 7, 2019 at 8:19 am |

    I don’t think the Jets got everything better with their redesign, but the green helmets they definitely got right. As far as the Eagles changing their shade of green back to Kelly green… in my opinion this would only work if they changed their uniform style into something more old-school looking. I feel like it would look silly to see their current number font and logo with Kelly green. In addition they just won the Super Bowl in midnight green… as time goes by it just seems less and less likely, as much as I would love the change. At least it’s not a bad look, even if it isn’t their best.

  • Ed | October 7, 2019 at 8:23 am |

    Hey Paul – don’t get too down on yourself. You made the best decision at the time you made it, and issues much larger than any individual made it not work out. Quality writing (and more importanly, quality human beings) will always be hard to find, so I’m confident in your future – you should be too!

  • Q | October 7, 2019 at 8:25 am |

    The Eagles switched to Midnight green in 96 so they werent the kelly green versions even back then.

    • Paul Lukas | October 7, 2019 at 8:26 am |

      Oh — somehow I thought it ’97. Thanks for setting me straight – -I’ll fix the text.

      • Q | October 7, 2019 at 8:46 am |

        No problem keep up the great work.

  • Jeff Ash | October 7, 2019 at 8:30 am |

    You will see a lot of pink police badges during October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a fairly common initiative.

  • Tony C | October 7, 2019 at 8:37 am |

    I know me and you have had some spats in the past, but i was truly sorry to hear you got let go. ever sense you made your announcement i have been reading Deadspins take on the whole SI layoffs, sounds like it was for the better as they seem to be up to some shady practices.

    • Tony Crespo | October 7, 2019 at 8:50 am |

      ugh.. i just reread this.. dang typos.. since*

      if you do go to a paid site, a forum or the ability to edit post would be nice

  • Ben | October 7, 2019 at 9:03 am |

    Chiefs fan, I cannot stand when they wear Red-on-Red. Takes a classic uniform and makes it look like crap.

  • Mike Wissman | October 7, 2019 at 9:03 am |

    Read that article about TheMaven that Paul shared. Maybe you’re much better off not having to work with such dubious characters.

    Hang in Paul. Maybe I’m naive, but I still am a believer that content quality will win out in the end.

  • Jason | October 7, 2019 at 9:27 am |

    Can I note that the GB Packers logo on the sideline yesterday is frustratingly different than the Lombardi era version?
    In the logo spotted yesterday, the middle horizontal leg of the B is not centered in the negative space of the G. It makes the whole thing feel unbalanced.

  • Anthony Verna | October 7, 2019 at 9:34 am |

    And don’t forget the Eagles played the Packers on Thursday night the previous week. So that means (while not green-helmeted) the Eagles played two other green-colored teams two weeks in a row.

    • RS Rogers | October 7, 2019 at 9:41 am |

      Raises what may be the most unpopular opinion I’ve ever held: I wish the Packers wore green helmets.

      • ThePonchat | October 7, 2019 at 10:17 am |

        In my Madden playing days, I would always do a green helmet for the Packers.

        Sometimes I’d do a white one too. They’d be “color rash” type designs, simply because I could never decide on what colors to pair together and thought single color was easier to go with.

  • Steve Vucinich | October 7, 2019 at 9:50 am |

    Sorry to hear about the SI lay-off. Not the same great magazine it was for years. Sad. Never read anything on BarStool, really don’t know much about it, but wondering why the NEVER? Hoping you can move to the Athletic.

  • AJ Kane | October 7, 2019 at 9:53 am |

    I appreciate your honest write-up about the SI situation, Paul–and I share the feeling that you dodged a bullet there.

    I also really admire your stance against Barstool. That place is quite the wrenched hive.

  • Eric | October 7, 2019 at 9:56 am |

    The new Nets alternates haven’t gotten much mention around here (understandable given the recent turmoil), but the plain white number on the front is totally washed away by the gray jersey. Worse yet, the name and number on the back is rendered in plain white without any border, which makes it really hard to see (I saw this in footage from an outdoor open practice they held over the weekend). Hopefully they can fix it before the season starts.

  • MJ | October 7, 2019 at 10:00 am |

    1. From great tragedy comes great art, and this piece today was exceptional. A very good and candid explanation of the shitty side of modern business through the eyes of someone it affected personally. You will land on your feet but I agree that the uncertainty is troubling, as is the need to “switch on” to hustle mode again, just when things seemed to be settled.
    1a. Agree about healthcare in this country. The system doesn’t benefit anybody but the people running the system – not the patients, not the doctors.
    2. The Jets’ kelly/white uniforms make the Eagles’ “midnight green” look so… teal. The contrast is stark. So long as the Jets stay away from BFBS and toned down the “NEW YORK” across the chest, that’s a nice redesign. And underscores how badly the Iggles need to do something soon.

  • Bernie | October 7, 2019 at 10:02 am |

    That all sucks. I’m really sorry. Seems pretty obvious it has nothing to do with the content, and just a decision made by someone looking at who the easiest people were to fire.

    This write-up was really interesting to read, somehow both raw and polished. I laughed out loud at the Daniel Rapaport story.

    Does it make you feel better or worse that this isn’t about you, but about the state of journalism in general?

  • Gordon | October 7, 2019 at 10:28 am |

    It pained me to read your account of the layoff. I’ve been through it myself, as well as seeing many experienced and talented (read: old and expensive) colleagues go through the same thing, for no reason other than the bottom line. It really messes with your head, makes you question your self-worth, creates financial stress, and on and on.

    But the good news is that we always fight our way through it, and come out better off on the other side.

    Know that you’ve got legions of fans out there rooting hard for you and your continued success!

  • Paul B. | October 7, 2019 at 12:17 pm |

    As someone who also recently lost their job twice in a relatively short period of time (for me it was 18 mos.), I feel your pain. It is completely and totally demoralizing, and makes you second-guess and question everything.

    Not sure if you’re a person of faith, but whether you prefer to think of it as “God” or the universe, be confident that there is a grander plan, and that you will end up better in the end!

    Also, COBRA is incredibly expensive. As a NY resident, you’re eligible for New York State of Health, NY’s healthcare marketplace. They offer excellent plans at very reasonable prices.

    Good luck!!

  • Oakville Fennel | October 7, 2019 at 12:33 pm |

    Sorry to hear this, your writing today does bring back the painful experience of a forced vacation. It’s also sad to see the slow decline of SI.

    In times of adversity I think of this TED Talk

    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=top+ted+talks++dan+gilbert

  • Name Redacted | October 7, 2019 at 12:45 pm |

    Maybe this is something done other places,but the nfl doing “rainbow cancer” seems weird, given the rainbow motif is so closely identified now with LGBT issues.

    Although, I do like the idea of treating all cancer causes equally and not prioritizing one (breast, prostate) over all the others.

  • Scott Unes | October 7, 2019 at 12:47 pm |

    Paul, sorry to hear about the SI situation, but you are some kind of great writer, and I know there are a lot of places out there that would be ecstatic to have you. And, you always have your fans here, who always appreciate all you do. I’m looking forward to hearing about whatever exciting things are coming your way in the near future.

  • LKjus | October 7, 2019 at 12:53 pm |

    I was in a very similar situation, to you Paul, albeit I was at my position a little longer and it was a lot less public and I didn’t have my “side” gig like this site is to you.

    All I know is I was devastated, but I got through it. I left a job I had for 8 years and took another. I was internal PR and I wrote the memo to the 3,500 staff members that we were going to trim 10 percent of the staff. My boss literally brought me in to his office (a normal occurrence) and said, “well, you wrote the memo, so you know what’s happening.”

    Fortunately, I got a decent severance after only being at the company six months and six weeks after I left, all but a dozen of the 3,500 people were let go and the company shut down after 27 years.

    My point is, you will survive and come out of it. In some ways, even though this was 12 years ago, I’m still haven’t totally recovered since I get the “Why did you bounce around during this time period?” but I’ve mentally recovered and it’s now in the past.

    You’re good at what you do, and judging by the comments on Deadspin, you have a huge following beyond just this site, so you should be OK. Good luck.

    • LKjus | October 7, 2019 at 12:54 pm |

      And based on what I read as to what is happening at SI, it will take longer than six weeks, but it might not be around much longer either.

  • Heisenberg's Hat | October 7, 2019 at 1:18 pm |

    Three years ago this month I was sent to MN to let an employee of mine (that I’d never met in person) go due to a force reduction in the company. Horrific way to meet a person. The next month 300 coworkers in my building, including half of my own reports and my wife (different department) were informed they were out of a job. I and about 30 others somehow didn’t get let go and remain employed with the company to this day. 30 some people in a building designed to hold 3k. I hope a great opportunity is just around the corner for you Paul. Corporate America really sucks. Couldn’t agree more with your health care comments.

  • DenverGregg | October 7, 2019 at 1:33 pm |

    i started work at a company in 1994 a few weeks after they had a mass layoff and the two big meetings.

    one poor guy was away at a doctor’s appointment and when he got back to the office, that part of the building was already cleared out except for the furniture!

    more importantly, though, a few of the guys who got laid off started their own company, which is now much bigger and more prosperous than the company that laid them off had ever been.the company that conducted the 1994 layoff no longer exists, having been bought out by an erstwhile competitor

  • Rich | October 7, 2019 at 1:40 pm |

    I was with a company for 15 years and had made it to a C-level position. But the company was private and the owners wanted to sell and retire, so we got sold to a place whose main business is acquiring companies, it seems. And I got demoted about 3 rungs to a position where I was seriously overpaid for what I was then doing. I lasted almost a year, but I had many of the same feelings you had. Unlike you, I should’ve seen the writing on the wall, but I didn’t.

    Now I make considerably less teaching about what I used to do for a living at a junior college. It’s a place to park myself for now, but it’s not the same as what I used to do.

    tl;dr — I get a lot of what you’re feeling and could write much of it myself. Hang in there — you’re a great writer and person and the right gig is out there for you, even in today’s climate.

  • HullCityKits | October 7, 2019 at 1:56 pm |

    I don’t read UW as often as I should, but I’d definitely support it via Patreon.

  • Joe Elliott | October 7, 2019 at 4:07 pm |

    Paul, I’m a relatively new reader of your blog and UniWatch website, but have quickly become a big fan. You got me started with one story about stirrups in MLB uniforms and Frank Robinson. Really fun stuff, and I’m old enough to remember what I still consider some of the classic uniforms from the 50’s and 60’s.

    Regarding your job loss, I echo the comments of some of those above: stay strong, talk to your friends, and contact your network. Your review of your situation was painfully honest, which I respect a great deal, and as you can see, so do many others who have posted here. Someone as dedicated and honest as you will be recognized for your value by another publication.

    I too speak from personal experience, having had my job “eliminated” once, and not included in a merger the second time. Conversely to you, I didn’t see it coming the first time and got a day to clear out of my office after 32 years of award winning work. I can still work up anger about it if I want to. The next time was anticipated as my company acquired 4 other companies within three years. I didn’t make the final one, but was ready for it and happily left the job, and moved to be closer to my grown children. A win overall.

    Bottom line here is you’ve just experienced what many of us have in life in corporate America. The company is not invested in you.

    I also read the article on SI, which is horrifying. I have been (and am) a subscriber since at least the 1980’s, and SI’s many fine journalists and writers like Frank Deford would be rolling over in their graves about this travesty of change in ownership and management.

    Finally, having worked my entire career in healthcare (NOT in the insurance industry), I would offer one comment about health insurance in this country. The reason it is most often through your employer is because of a tax deal made with Congress, corporations, and the American Hospital Association in 1946. Ever since then, the employer became the mechanism for access to health insurance (getting a tax break for doing so), rather than you as an individual. So the actual cost of any health care procedure or care was invisible to you, and consequently ignored because you simply paid your premium (or would have had it deducted) with every paycheck, with no incentive to see if you could get better quality or lower cost through your own research. That is the intent of Flexible Health Care spending accounts, which ideally operate like a employer based 401k, only to be used for medical care. When it is perceived as your own money (which it actually is), one becomes much more aware of how much things cost. Nonetheless, healthcare is clearly broken in this country.

    Thanks for sharing your dilemma and responses, and I’ll keep following your work on UniWatch.

    • DenverGregg | October 7, 2019 at 5:03 pm |

      Joe – good comment re: healthcare. i’ve worked in that biz since early 90s – never for an insurer either. A variety of tinkering with healthcare by politicians from 1965 to present made messy situations worse. Probably the worst was Nixon’s HMO Act which further disconnected patients from having any direct connection to the cost of their own healthcare.

      from what i can tell (having taken graduate courses in the field shortly after the turn of the century – so there could be new developments), the German, Israeli, and Japanese healthcare systems are the best in the world

      • Joe Elliott | October 11, 2019 at 11:53 am |

        Denver, a belated reply to yours on healthcare. Don’t be too quick to assume that other countries have better healthcare. The way to view it is the analogy of a 3 legged stool. The best healthcare is 1) accessible to all, 2) high quality, 2) low or reasonable cost. There is nowhere in the world that has all three attributes. For example, we have here in the U.S. high quality, and (if insured) reasonable cost, but not access for all (in spite of ObamaCare).
        Other European countries have better access, and often high quality (depending on government controls), but not low cost. It may seem so, but you are paying for it with high taxes (in the 60-70% range or higher).
        Two examples of how things ARE different elsewhere:
        1) I lived in Montreal, Quebec in the early 90’s. The Premier of Quebec (like a US state Governor) disappeared from public view for several weeks. The press inquired into his whereabouts. It was later discovered that he had traveled to NIH in the U.S. to get treatment for melanoma. In other words, he didn’t even trust his own province or national healthcare quality enough to get treated there. He went to the U.S.
        In fact, MANY Canadians travel across the border for US provided healthcare, due to the long waits for treatment (e.g. cardiac bypass, or some other surgery or treatment not covered by provincial health authorities).
        2) Breast cancer mortality in the UK is much lower than in the U.S. Why would that be? It’s not because physicians there don’t understand the best treatments and drugs. It’s because they have limited availability to the newest and best drugs due to limitations mandated by the NHS (National Health Service) and it’s regulatory arm NICE. So women die when the would have been successfully treated in the U.S.

        • Joe Elliott | October 11, 2019 at 11:55 am |

          Breast cancer mortality- should have seid, “much higher in UK” (lower in US)

  • receive raw | October 7, 2019 at 4:58 pm |

    Drink some sauerkraut juice, you’ll be fine.

  • Dave Mac | October 7, 2019 at 5:42 pm |

    Very sorry to hear, Paul. As someone who has experienced something similar, while also having many other difficult life events/tragedies happen simultaneously, I can relate. For a while it felt that my entire life was up in the air. In the end, I eventually found myself in a much better situation than I could have imagined and everything—work-related and otherwise—worked out great in the end.

    This really sucks, no doubt about it. But I just want you to keep the faith and don’t let cynicism or despair overcome you. Things will work out for you and you will find a positive resolution to the situation soon enough.

    Hang in there.

  • MacOH | October 7, 2019 at 7:35 pm |

    Just to echo what others have said, hang in there. I understand, unfortunately, many of the same ups and downs you’ve been through. It’s a sad club to be part of, but a club nonetheless of those who walked in your shoes.

  • Jim Vilk | October 7, 2019 at 9:15 pm |

    Well, you lasted 22 days longer than William Henry Harrison did in the White House…

    You should’ve lasted a lot longer than FDR, but hey, that’s SI’s loss. Now the money I would’ve used to subscribe to SI can go towards your ad-free paywalled site. If you build it, we will come. Stay strong, Paul.

  • Cole | October 7, 2019 at 11:10 pm |

    Echoing what others have said above – hang in there, this was VERY CLEARLY not about you, and I think you are better off exiting stage left early from what appears to be a rapidly devolving situation.

  • OCBEE | October 8, 2019 at 12:36 am |

    10 years, 2 months, 23 days until I can chuck working. Reading what you are going through makes me wish that day was tomorrow.

  • Ernest | October 8, 2019 at 10:47 am |

    Paul, sorry to hear that you lost a paycheck, but happy to hear you are now available for other, better opportunities. The fact you still have UW dollars coming in should be some respite. Buy a pizza, watch “Up in the Air”with George Clooney, consider things could always be worse, go to bed knowing folks love what you do, and wake up tomorrow ready to kick butt!

  • Larry | October 9, 2019 at 10:12 pm |

    Part of the reason the health care system stinks is because we all have to pay for all the public employees and politicians who get the best coverage for free or very inexpensive along with the best benefits. The politicians in return have allowed the insurance companies to become the richest entities on the planet. It’s a scam compared to what goes on in other countries. But your blog is great and I think it could be a bigger money maker than it is now and I know your working on it.