There are days when I have felt that Hogs Haven existed for no other reason than to provide me an outlet for a crude genitalia joke combined with a Game of Thrones reference. On those days, I am forever grateful for readers like Joe Sullivan, who routinely weed through the words I have written and thoughtfully initiate meaningful discussions with relative strangers. You see, our community is based not on my opinions, but on the daily interaction of countless opinionated individuals. We may not agree on whether the Redskins should exercise Robert Griffin III's option or if the team should change its name, but the tenor of our debates and the respect we show each other throughout sets us apart from 99% of all the other places you can find those debates.
Better known as Skins Fan '77, Joe has been a mainstay in the comments section at Hogs Haven for as long as we have been at it. My weekly Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays column was simply incomplete until Joe had responded with his take on each of my points. He was supportive of the writers on this site, even when he emphatically disagreed with their opinions. By virtue of the respectful and thoughtful nature of his comments, his opinions were thoughtfully respected by all of us, even on days when we were light years away from agreeing with him.
We learned of Joe's passing this week, though the news is a couple months old. In that time, I know I have seen many readers take note of his absence, and it is with a heavy heart that I bring you this update. I encourage those of you who feel compelled to visit this page, where you can not only read a brief obituary, but you can leave a comment. What better way to say goodbye to a man who stood in here with us all these years, providing true leadership and character in a time when internet communities are so lacking of such things? To those unable to find the words to add to such a comment thread, I suggest simply logging in and contributing, "Hogs Haven remembers."
I am thankful every day that Hogs Haven is populated with men and women like Joe. I don't take for granted the privilege it is to perform the role I do, whatever it is you would call it. I don't forget that the only thing separating this site from the plethora of online dumpster fires is people like Joe. You guys deserve all the credit for cultivating and adhering to a decorum on Hogs Haven that is simply not the norm when it comes to online discussion.
It is not lost on me that we could fill up the pages of Hogs Haven with remembrances like these. I hope that by remembering Joe in this way, we can kind of all take a second and remember those whose presence both here and elsewhere in our lives is sorely missed. We gather as Redskins fans, but along the way, we learn that it is all the other things that comprise who we are that makes this community so damn amazing. With that thought in mind, I reached out to Parks Smith, one of our most highly regarded editors over the years, to include his thoughts:
Joe was one of the cornerstones of the Hogs Haven community and had been a valuable member since the genesis of everything that makes this site great. He was a great Redskins fan and was always up for a spirited conversation about his favorite team. What made Joe so special to the community is that he was a logical thinker who added valuable perspectives and insight that seem to get lost in the jingoistic nature that we see in so many fan communities.
My heart is full of grief with the loss of Joe. He treated people the right way in this community and also taught others how to do so. Hogs Haven was a huge part of his life and his participation here demonstrated the manner in which very different people can come together and create a truly great online community regardless of the fact that those same bonds would not likely be formed organically outside of Hogs Haven.
If we had a Hogs Haven Ring of Fame, Skins Fan '77 would be the first name on it.
(Parks Smith's name would certainly join it as well.)
I believe Joe has found a better place to both cheer for his favorite team as well as keep close tabs on what we are up to here at Hogs Haven. I believe that he has escaped the adversities that he woke up to every day and is once again enjoying the freedom that was so unceremoniously taken away from him in this life. More than just whatever religious belief structure may or may not instruct us on such things, I just believe there is something eternal about the exercise of our passion, energy and spirit in communities like this. This belief drives me and my team to act as the best stewards possible, secure in the knowledge that what we build today can stand forever. (I know, I know Joe...if only the Redskins were as sincere in their construction of a football team and organization.)
On behalf of every member of Hogs Haven--past, present and future--I salute Joe Sullivan, aka Skins Fan '77.
On behalf of Joe, I thank every member of the same community for continuing on in the tradition for which he was so integral in nurturing.
RIP and HTTR
rec for Joe