Inside a small, worn notebook that’s lived most of its life underneath a laptop cord in my book bag is a reminder I wrote to myself a while back:
It’s not digging ditches.
Granted, my self-motivating scribble isn’t necessarily carpe diem, but it works just as well.
Things like where I went to college and what I wanted to do for a career were easy life choices. So was who I should marry. But after I unplugged BBR back in January, deciding my next step threatened to turn me into a big ball of stress.
But as a glance at that old notebook continuously reminded me, it’s not like I’d be digging ditches.
Fortunately, three intriguing options emerged fairly early in the process. The daunting part was picking the right path. I could …
1) Keep running BBR, but with a smarter business plan.
2) Join the Panthers’ media team.
3) Lead the website makeover of an NFL team not named the Panthers.
All came with plenty of pros and cons, and as more of my hair turned gray, I eventually did the whole make a list and compare thing. I solicited advice over numerous meals and beers. At one point, I considered drawing straws.
For the purposes of keeping this post short, I’ll spare you most of what was bouncing around in my head and cut to the most influential factors.
Because my wife and I preferred to stay in Charlotte, I crossed off option No. 3 first. And while better financing could have helped make BBR more of what I had originally envisioned, I decided to go where the biggest opportunity lies. At Panthers.com, I’ll still be writing stories and fronting videos, and most of all, explaining why the team does what it does.
Why I Picked the Panthers
Many reporters refer to the crossover from “traditional” media to team-run sites as “going to the dark side.” Giving up that customary independence is no doubt a sacrifice, but content is king. And because teams have the most access to the best content, they can offer opportunities with endless creative possibilities.
My goal since leaving local TV in 2011 was to innovate, and the Panthers today are on a similar page. There may be some growing pains when I try to sprint instead of jog, but I’m excited about the team’s vision and its understanding that I want to remain objective — at least as objective as someone employed by a team can be.
I’m also fired up about getting back to my roots by doing more in front of the camera. NFL restrictions put a severe limit on what I could do with video. Teams can do much, much more.
But this choice wasn’t just about my career. When I took a step back from BBR, I wanted to recalibrate my personal and professional life. Now that I’ll no longer be in charge of running a site and pumping out the majority of its content, my wife won’t have to eat dinner by herself most nights.
BBR would never have existed if my wife didn’t encourage me in early 2014 to give it a try. I’m amazed at how much patience she showed almost every night in the three years since when I worked on “just one more thing” for the site. Of course, that one more thing would always leave me focused on my computer well past her bedtime and throughout most weekends. I can’t thank her enough for supporting the effort.
The site had a good chance to turn into something bigger if I gave it one more season. The smarter business plan I mentioned earlier? That came from Zack Luttrell, who many of you know as the founder of Roaring Riot. Zack made an incredibly tempting offer that had the potential to take both our visions to new heights. I hated to let him down, but I at least want to thank Zack publicly and share yet another example of how much he cares about growing and enhancing the fan base.
And, of course, thanks to all of you who read and supported BBR, especially those who offered to sign up for a potential subscription service. My Day 1 vow to avoid click bait was swimming against the internet’s tide, but you helped me stay afloat. Even if it didn’t end up changing the larger media landscape, I’ll always be proud of what we were able to build here.
Besides, it’s not like it was digging ditches.
And Finally …