Borrowed the quote above from the last Tonight Show appearance by my favorite all-time television performer, Johnny Carson, in May 1993. Today it fits for me.
My sportswriting career is finished. I am done.
No more comebacks, even parttime ones. I thought I was done in May 2011, when I was part of the fifth layoff at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 3 1/2 years.
I said then that my fulltime career was over. And it was.
But because I wanted to cover high school football in the fall of 2011 and again this fall, and because there also was parttime work available inside -- on the desk, in newspaper parlance -- I worked four months at The Dallas Morning News and almost all this calendar year back at the Star-Telegram.
One or two nights a week -- sometimes three nights -- wasn't a bad deal. Little pressure, and good people around. And the papers paid me.
Covering high school football these past two seasons, at some fabulous facilities and some ordinary ones, was a blast. Texas high school football -- Friday Night Lights -- is as good it gets, if you love covering the preps ... and I always have.
My last desk shift was last Monday, a tough five-hour grind right to the deadline. Edited my last story, wrote my last cutline, my last headline. Done. See you.
|The last media credential|
of my career.
And I'm happy; I'm satisfied. There was a little sadness this past week, but not much. I've had enough.
Several people the past few weeks have suggested I would be calling next fall asking to cover games again. Several have said I will miss working, will miss the newspaper business.
No, no and no.
I told Bea early this year that this would be my final year, my final set of games. I don't see as well, I don't hear as well, I don't sleep well after I work, I get tired more easily.
Covering high school football, as much fun as it was, is more difficult these days. The games are so fast-paced, the scores are so much higher, there are tweets to post, and stats to compile and enter into the computer, and there is -- always -- a deadline to meet.
I found I could still do it, and I still worked at it as hard as ever. Got there early, explored the stadiums and met people, and stayed late. Did two stories: (1) a version for the next day's newspaper; (2) a longer, more detailed -- with quotes -- for the paper's web site. Happy to do it. Loved the action.
Glad to be done. Lots for which to be grateful. I'm certainly blessed.
Can't say that I loved every single minute of my career; sounds good, but I don't believe that was true even for Johnny Carson.
In almost 50 years -- from the time I first walked into The Shreveport Times sports department when I had just turned 16 -- there were lots of tough times. Most were self-inflicted.
I went from job to job because I got tired of some people and misbehaved, and they got tired of me. I was told to move on more times than I could have ever imagined. But if you believe that most everything happens for a good reason -- and Beatrice has convinced me this is true -- I found that change can be good.
We went from Louisiana to Hawaii back to Louisiana, to Florida, to Tennessee and finally to Texas. I worked for seven daily newspapers, one college, and three pro baseball teams -- some great jobs ... and some jobs.
I was never enamored with upper management in the newspaper field, never one to totally follow the rules. But I will say that upper management at the Shreveport Journal and The Honolulu Advertiser were the best and, with few exceptions, management in the sports departments where I worked was wonderful.
Lots of people helped me along the way. Don't even want to start to name names; just too many people, and I don't want to slight anyone. Some people saved my career; I hope they know who they are. Most people enhanced it. I tried to learn something from everyone; I hope I passed on some knowledge/advice.
I had some management roles; some were easier than others because I was working with great people. Shreveport Journal sports for much of the 1980s was the best group, the most fun; the Star-Telegram -- I arrived late in 2001 -- was the best section in which I was involved ... at least for the first half-dozen years.
There's lots of thanks all around, but the biggest thanks go to my home folks. My parents ... I miss them. Mostly, though, Beatrice -- who supported me through lots of great times and difficult ones; I can always say I married well -- and my incredible kids, Jason and Rachel, who put up with much more than they should have.
There's more I want to express, and I'll do that in a couple of days. I've got time. I'm retired.