1. As Joey Tribbiani famously said, "We're not Bert and Ernie!" Well, Kevin and I are pretty close to that. In 1998/99, you could find us in Kevin's basement in Gallagher, listening to A Tribe Called Quest discs on repeat, playing backgammon and talking about everything you can think of sports-related. We were unstoppable on the Beirut table, in games of Goldeneye and
with the ladies as wingmen for our friends. The guy was instrumental in introducing me to my future wife, St. Megan! For years after college, we talked more to each other throughout the day than we did with whomever we happened to be dating (or married to) at the time. Our typical, daily Instant Messaging regimen included equal parts soul-crushing insults directed towards each other and insightful discussion on the soul-crushing experience of being a Redskins fan. It was always the same thing day after day: "People would definitely be interested in hearing this, right? Why don't we start our own site and do this for an audience?"
2. So we did. I had started an underground newsletter at Loyola College (now Loyola University, for some reason) called The Ahern Inquirer. In addition to chronicling the incestuous habits of a coed college dorm, investigating the trail of lies associated with the alleged winner of a Seinfeld-esque masturbation contest and dropping countless inside jokes, I also worked in a smidgen of sports. We took the name and started our own blog sometime in 2007.
3. The Ahern Inquirer was wildly successful. Literally tens of people found our site and loved it, most notably some of the local media folks. Our take on things tended to be more on the "blue" side, but we weren't overtly offensive, and we always tried to have a point. Even on Blogspot, where the unwashed masses can spray the internet with hate and slurs, we found that the people who were coming to read us and comment tended to truly enjoy the debate.
4. When Will Allensworth--the original Hogs Haven guru--decided that law school was his calling, the opening Kevin and I had been waiting and preparing for arrived. In January of 2009, we took over Hogs Haven and immediately began doing our thing. Kevin did his Facebook hacks and I cranked out long-form essays comparing current Redskins events with every movie and sitcom I had ever watched.
5. One of the reasons why I think readers initially liked us was because we never considered ourselves bigger or better than anyone else on the site. Hell, our performance at media events and in interviews was enough to convey that message loud and clear. We were amateurs to the bone, but we embraced it and made that "our thing." We had and continue to have the highest respect for the beat guys out there busting their asses to cover this team and get stories. We did not always see eye-to-eye with everyone in the media, but we tried our hardest to ensure that they never felt disrespected by us. (If only Kevin had sent that bottle of champagne to a different table...haha.)
6. Kevin and I have not taken more pride in almost anything other than this community. My wife and family...Kevin's gerbil collection...that's probably it. As much as we enjoy being writers and being out in front of this crew, we said from the beginning that we wanted people to notice how this community conducted itself. It's not on accident that we don't have an abundance of screaming matches in the comments sections, or excessive hateful/foul language, or a general unwillingness to listen to each other's opinions. We distinguish ourselves by the manner in which we engage each other. It also helped that Kevin and I saved our best trash talking for each other...offline...very cleansing!
7. Over the last few years, as Hogs Haven has grown into a widely recognized outlet for Redskins news and commentary, we have been extremely fortunate to be surrounded by fans like ourselves who have been ready and willing to pitch in and enhance the overall experience. I hate to single out individuals, because so many people have been so instrumental to our success, but if I didn't mention Parks Smith, Steve Shoup and Mark "UK" Bullock (our friend from...across the drink), and the things they helped us do to get this community off the ground, I would not be doing this right. I know I speak for both Kevin and I when I say that we leaned on these three guys in a way that we haven't done with many people and they simply knocked it out of the park. With no disrespect to Steve and UK, this is a great time to thank Parks Smith again for the instrumental role he played in making this site what it is. Parks--don't think I will ever stop randomly texting you my late-night musings on every subject under the sun.
8. We always knew that one day things would change. Kevin's work on the IT/programming side was bound to lead him to more time-consuming efforts, and I am beyond impressed with the opportunities he has created for himself. Pair that with the grind of covering...this team. It isn't easy. I can't count the number of times that Kevin would text me: "Dude, if they (the Redskins) keep this up, I'm out. I literally can't handle it." I think that quote came after they hired Sherman Lewis and installed the most ridiculous play-calling system in the pros. Needless to say, Kevin could never bail...would never bail. There were plenty of times over the last few years when I was simply gone. From the births of my three children, to my family trips to Vermont, where both cell reception and WiFi can be hard to get, Kevin filled the gaps and kept the site chugging along. He carried the water here many times. Sean and Mike--I might not be having any more kids, but I do plan on going AWOL for old times sake every now and again!
9. The Hogs Haven Managing Editor chair is where I belong--though I might need to change it up from the two-man banana seat we had and maybe install a nice upside down bucket to work on. I have a lot in store for this community in the coming months, and the team behind Hogs Haven is busting at the seams to step up and fill in for Kevin's absence. It will take multiple people to accomplish that task. I am proud to carry on what Kevin and I have worked so hard to build. I won't be doing it alone. I have spent the last month locking down commitments from many talented writers, ensuring that the content on this site going forward is up to the standard we have come to expect. (If you came here for the male nudity, those days are pretty much done. Without Kevin sneaking into gym locker room showers and fitting rooms at the local Big & Tall shops, I don't know how we will be able to continue providing that content.)
10. This is not meant to be the definitive send-off for Kevin. He is not going anywhere. You will see him in the comments sections and you will hopefully see him contribute again when the season rolls around, but his role will be decidedly different. It is weird because Kevin and I will still be best friends, and will still hang out as much as always, but not having him around Hogs Haven doing his thing will surely be different. My hope is that stepping away from this will allow him to reconnect with that part of him that this gig tends to silence: the unabashed, ever-hopeful, "we'll get 'em next time" spirit of the consummate fan. In the meantime, I ask that you all help me not just maintain what we have here, but take it to the next level. Kevin, we'll be seeing you around--but of course not within 500 feet of any hamster stores, as the court order mandates.
Kevin, thanks for everything you have done for me and for everyone at Hogs Haven. If and when we have a Ring of Honor, your name will go right up on it, right between Tom Tupa, Sr. and Cincyboy.