I can give you several thousand words on offensive tackle previews, or a flailing hope to be optimistic following a bad loss -- but these kind of pieces are by far the hardest to write. Writing from emotion comes easily, writing about my emotions... well, that's a lot harder.
I found Cat Scratch Reader in the Summer of 2009 as I jumped around looking for a creative outlet. After writing long, in-depth fanposts over on Rufus on Fire (SB Nation's Bobcats blog), I found my way back to my true sporting love. CSR was supposed to be a creative outlet, a place where I could burn off the water-cooler ramblings in my head, which were borne from a solid day of mindless office work. Having a place where I could come, converse, and write about sport was intended to be a fun frivolity.
2,566 articles later, and 24,628 comments it is my love, my passion, and my drive to do this all day, every day.
None of that would have been possible if it wasn't for Jaxon. After more of my meandering, mostly nonsensical fanposts about the need for optimism, he brought me on board to help write for the site. There was a giddy thrill that first year every time 'James The Aussie' posted a front-page article that I could show off to my friends and loved ones.
Huddling around a pool at a 4th of July party in 2010 I realized how far this site had brought me. A man, barely an acquaintance, told me that I had to check out Cat Scratch Reader, and said there were great articles by "This Australian dude". I'm not sure why I didn't ever tell him it was me, I think it was mostly shock... but I realized where this blog was going.
There was a time I took the mention of 'blog' as a slight, and a few years ago it was. The term had come to mean a place with little substance, no guidelines, where anybody could say what they wanted without repercussions. Behind the scenes I knew how we always strived to be better, write better, and deliver content better -- so reducing us to a 'blog' seemed like a slap in the face.
That's all different now. In the years since I arrived to write we've been linked to on Pro Football Talk, ESPN, CBS Sports, Yahoo, and countless other smaller outlets. I've had the opportunity to appear on local sports radio, interview in Houston and New England -- while appearing in the background on NFL Network for Keenan Allen's pro day (huzzah!).
If you want to call us a 'blog' as an intended snarky remark to indicate the site has no credibility, fine. I'll relish in the fact that some of the finest sports writers I know respect the work here. We'll grin when we know our work has been read by Jon Beason, Greg Hardy, and DeAngelo Williams, or when Luke Kuechly links to one of our pieces on his Facebook account. Not many places can say the same.
At times I've taken myself, and my work far too seriously -- it's a weakness. From getting into spats over quoting me accurately, or what the Panthers 'deserve' in the draft, all the way to getting too hot under the collar in comment sections. It's something I work on every day, and I apologize if I've offended you in the past -- it doesn't come from a place of malice, just an all-too-easy lapse in forgetting there's a person on the other end of the screen.
If I wanted to spend another thousand words extolling the virtues of Jaxon and the editorial team, I could... easily. Along with the readers, they make it all worth it. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, but a special thanks to Jaxon, for taking a chance on me, allowing me to grow, and continue to work for this amazing site. Without his willingness to help me I'd probably be ranting in an ESPN comment section somewhere.
Unfortunately I can't go back to the first MMO's I wrote back in 2009. Fanposts from that long ago are almost impossible to find, but I did find one from the second preseason game of 2010. Oh boy, what I know now. Here is my favorite quote from that flawed piece.
Everette Brown- Extremely Optimistic: Heading this category again for the second straight week. For all the reasons mentioned above and more he looks like a very special player.
Thank you all.