Normally at this time I’m saying my goodbyes to friends and relatives as I prepare for the football season. Instead, my life changed forever in late June when my son was born. In some ways, this change is very obvious. Time that used to be spent on the computer is now spent with an infant pulling at my chest hair while I watch The Price Is Right. Navigating the How Responsible I Actually Am Matrix goes as far as my willingness to bend down and pick something up that he dropped while holding him. I have had to create entirely new spaces in my brain and life to help my wife in her recovery and become studied about things I never knew I would ever need to think about. (This was an extremely lorge child, to do the thing I have complained about child rearing the most about and undersell the actual details in the name of not turning people off.)
The more obvious takeaway for readers is something along the lines of: Writer (usually Texans, sometimes general football if I am weighing associations I generally am given) isn’t writing much anymore. Some of you have checked in and it’s very sweet of you. Enough of you have asked that I felt compelled to put some sort of update out. So here goes:
I have been #RiseAndGrinding for little monetary gain since the day I entered this industry. The last two seasons I banked an amount of money not all that different from the amount I made in my first year of doing this, despite (checking notes) 12 years of experience in this realm, working with Rotoworld. The real reason I did it is because that was a site I always read and respected — the number of sites I can say that about is extremely small in our new and improved Capital Takeover media landscape — and it felt good to be a part of it in some small way. 2021, the year of the David Culley Era, was the first year I worked with them and juggled both Texans coverage and this new job. My Sundays became unsustainable 16-hour marathons, and in 2022 I simply opted to stop the more-intensive bits of Texans coverage part because it was more a sadistic badge of honor than anything that was actually fun.
I don’t come at this with some sort of grudge in my heart for my time at NBC, but I think the best way I can put this is that if I were to recur last season’s role, I might make $100 a week after I paid for childcare and taxes. So unless a role materializes in this space where I can do things like “send my son to daycare while actually making money,” well, it makes little sense for me to not take a step back. It’s a shame, as I really thought I was growing — something I didn’t share much publicly was that they had me doing some baseball coverage in May and June. That was exciting and fun. But I don’t get to make the decisions of capitalism, I just get to “enjoy” the “results.”
So on paper that kind of sets up for a return to Texans writing, right? Some free time, team looks to be on the upswing enough that even noted pessimist Rivers McCown couldn’t ding their head coach or quarterback picks.
Except … honestly I’m just burnt out. I’ve watched the two preseason games (well, most of them, baby will baby). I’m open and waiting for that spark to come back, but I think the best way to explain it is that writing my truth about the team I am a fan of has become a source of anxiety and made me a magnet for negative energy.
I know most of you reading this are just regular people who want to get some honest thoughts on the team, and I kinda hate in my heart that the wackos drown you out. But I’m also not really interested in having my motivations second-guessed by a group of people who will never mentally reconcile that Lovie Smith was a bad coaching hire from the moment that idea happened and would instead rather make a parody Twitter account of me with pictures they clearly stalked out. I’m good on that unless someone’s gonna bankroll it. The business of fandom has become more powerful than I ever could have imagined five years ago, and the business of speaking truth to power is not exactly booming. I know plenty of writers and media personalities who are fine exploiting this gap, and I don’t begrudge them their choices, but I don’t know how much “me” there is in that path for me.
(My 10,000-foot view of the 2023 Texans now that I have strung you along with vulnerability for a bit: Nothing that has happened these past three months really matters. When you have good prospects you let them play and see what you have. Good prospects don’t always become good pros, and there’s no reason to rush to judgment on C.J. Stroud or DeMeco Ryans as a head coach. We might have a good idea of where this is headed by late October. We might get a crystallizing moment or two in November or December. The Texans are not a baby. They will not make it obvious that they need to feed by bouncing their head against your chest. But the signs that matter are coming and I’m excited to see them, which is a damn sight more than I could say for last season. I will just be over here on my sofa hoping injuries or ideas held on to for too long won’t turn the Will Anderson trade into a flashpoint, as the Sword of Damocles, by law, always dangles over Texans fandom.)
And where that leaves me is: I’m open to opportunities, and I’m not opposed to the idea that I’ll be inspired to write or talk about stuff along the way this year. I am watching and listening to my own signs, as well as the ones other people give me. But I’m also at A Point Of Privilege where I don’t have to do anything but help my son grow up, and that is such a wild disconnect from what I’ve been doing these last 13 years that I honestly can’t tell if it brings me a different kind of anxiety (from a loss of self-identity) or if I’m just not sleeping enough yet. The only thing I am confident about is that what I was putting in to writing about football on a daily basis, in the pre-child model, is not currently returning enough to make me feel like it’s a positive mental or financial decision with the addition of the boy.
I wasn’t really planning on being less-involved in Twitter/X(?) by choice, but the direction of said website is ghastly and every day the uphill battle to want to post gains a little more incline for one stupid reason or another. With Tweetdeck now “improved” and stuck behind a paywall, I’m simply not going to use the website on my computer at all. I would rather have my gums scraped than willingly give Facebook any bit of my life, so that rules out Threads. I’m looking forward to what actually does emerge that’s good again, but we’re kind of in an enshittification cycle as far as social media goes.
So look forward to my next post, which will either be about football or video games or What I Learned About Cloth Diapers And Leakage, and might post sometime this calendar year.