Today will be the last post on Ed The Sports Fan, starting at 12:01 am tomorrow the launch of The Sports Fan Journal will begin. For Ken and I, this is the beginning of our evolution into something bigger, bigger than anything we initially thought when we first started blogging back on February 21, 2008...
Where would we be without evolution?
In a literal sense, the world might not exist and we as humans would still exist in the stage of a formative ape. (All the Alphas in the house chill for the present time, thanks)
In the current form with sports, we've seen evolution in many forms:
- To create more excitement in the game
- To provide more safety (thus providing prolonged opportunity) for the players
- To adapt to the preferences of media and the fans who support
- To improve gameplay and competition
In the initial phase, the process of growth can be a difficult one. Over time, folks who would complain about the change will inevitably be the biggest apostles for it. (Think Facebook) Evolution can be a necessary evil, but its keyword is that is in fact, necessary.
Three examples to make my point...
#1. Michael Vick
Simple enough, right? The man was one of the most electrifying quarterbacks while a member of the Atlanta Falcons. A running threat with a cannon of an arm, the man's talent was off the charts. Of course, there was one problem...
...Vick had no real idea on how to play the quarterback position.
Now, we don't need to go into detail as to his ordeal with the dogs and going to jail. What we can do is admire the fact that when the Philadelphia Eagles took a flyer on the man, he was more willing to learn, change out of his old ways, and evolve not only as a quarterback...but as a man.
Vick's 2010 season was one that I thought I'd never see. While some of the Vick Stanley's always believed, I hadn't. The man transcended before our very eyes and was becoming the quarterback that we all hoped he would be. Now in 2011, defenses have evolved along with him and learned his new tendencies, Vick's growth as a quarterback will be challenged yet again.
#2. Dirk Nowitzki
Without question the big homie Dirk has been one of the most consistent performers in the league, yet the knock on Dirk was that he couldn't get his team over the hump. It might've been an unjustified knock, but it was on Dirk nonetheless.
People like Ken would tell you that nothing's really changed with Dirk since the debacle versus the Miami Heat in '06 (squandering a 2-0 series lead) or the debacle versus the Golden State Warriors in back in '07. (losing to a #8 seed) To a degree, Dirk's game isn't that different than from previous games, yet I'd argue that the team, the organization and Dirk's mindset is totally different at age 33 versus 28.
Dirk in previous years was fortunate enough to share the leadership role with others (Nash, Finley) in years past. Dirk was also extremely reliant of his jumper, something that you think a 7-footer with range out to 30-feet would be fool-proof. Yet in critical situations, the defense is heightened and the pressure mounts, something that even the big German became fallible to. So what did Dirk do? He worked on his mid-range and post-game, now without the services of his buddy Nash, the job was on him to lead. Cuban shifted the roster to cater to Dirk more, and look....we were blessed with one of the best finals performances in NBA history.
Subtle change was made, which had a monumental impact. All hail #41.
#3. Charles Woodson
There aren't too many players that are held in a higher regard than the man that JAG hates and the man that Ken affectionately calls, "The Heisman." (Due to him being the only one to win it from the defensive side of the ball)
Growing up watching Charles Woodson, he might be the physical specimen one would use to create the ultimate cover cornerback. Capable of running a 4.4, extremely shifty and quick, physically strong with quality measurables...dude was the epitome of the cornerback position as the great Al Davis drafted him out of Michigan and made him a member of the Oakland Raiders.
For years, Woodson was consistently one of the 2-3 best corners out. Yet by the time he turned 29, folks had left Woody for dead in Oakland. He had battled injuries and seemed incapable of covering like he did in his prime. Green Bay picked up Woodson on a flyer, hoping to get a couple of years of service from him before he was finished. That was five years ago.
Watching Woodson now, he looked like he did at 25 even though he's 35 now. The man is out there covering slot receivers, playing a roving linebacker/safety role in Mike McCarthy's defense and dropping back to play safety when needed. Woodson evolved by becoming well-skilled at various positions on the field. His value is his utility, along with being well-skilled. He is the unquestioned leader of that defense (sorry Clay Matthews and Tinsley, I'm not passing that crown to him yet) and they follow the lead of #21.
Like Vick, we've had our good days along with our bad ones. We've learned a ton along the way, and through the tutelage of people like Gotty, Bomani, Tillery, Thornton and others, we realize that we've still got more to learn and that the future is bright for The Sports Fan Journal and everyone involved.
Like Dirk, we're not changing much in who we are. We'll still write the same colorful and engaging articles that we always have. The stage, is bigger. The stakes, are higher. The end result, well...we've already achieved far beyond our expectations, but we realize that there's more to accomplish. That's what The Sports Fan Journal is in place to do.
Like Woodson, we've received our fair bit of accolades (thank you) but to stay relevant you've got to be able to hone your craft. However, the current setup of ETSF is a limited one, and we have invested (literally) to put something better in front of the people.
At one point, I thought I'd use ETSF as a launching point for something bigger and better...some of those dreams were achieved (writing for SLAM) and some of those dreams were ones I'd never even imagined. (Ken, B-Lew and Ed Shocking the World with Nike in NYC, at the ACC Championship, etc.) Yet, we've got more to do. We've got to become better writers, better editors and more knowledgeable. Its a challenge we're ready to accept at The Sports Fan Journal.
Oh, and we've had the livest group of commenters ever. Please take your talents to the new site, your voice is needed too.
It gets real tomorrow, so get ready for the evolution. Because the evolution...will not be televised.
-Ken, B-Lew, Rev, I'm So Hideous, JAG, CK and Ed.