Yeah, Monday was a wild day.
Well, let’s start with Sunday night. After Seattle beat San Francisco in a fantastic NFC title game, Seattle’s Richard Sherman gave an … interesting postgame interview to Erin Andrews. I enjoyed it but didn’t think a whole lot about it as I went back to my Sunday night chores, folding laundry and such. I checked Twitter at some point and saw people were ripping Sherman for a lack of class in the interview. I thought, it’s hard to be classy when you’ve just played a game that violent and they put a microphone in your face on live TV. The idea started itching in my head. That’s usually a good sign. So I quit the laundry, sat down at the laptop and wrote. There wasn’t much of a narrative thread to it, just some scattered thoughts, so I numbered the paragraphs and made it sort of a list. I figured it might make a nice little piece for Forbes.com, where I’ve been doing some sportswriting lately.
It was nearly midnight when I was done. I almost waited until Monday morning to post it — the Forbes editors say it’s best to publish between 10 and 2 on weekdays, when people are surfing the Internet at work. (I had forgotten that Monday was the MLK holiday.) But after a few minutes of hemming and hawing I said screw it and posted the thing.
A little later, I checked back and noticed that a lot of people had mentioned it on Twitter. Like, a LOT.
Later on I clicked over to the Forbes site. Forbes puts their traffic stats next to every story so anybody can see them. The most popular story I’d ever written for them ended up with about 46,000 page views. This story already had 50,000. Then 100,000. When Alix came home from her night shift, I checked one last time and it was more than 200,000. We stared at each other like, What is happening? Then we went to bed.
When I woke up, it was more than a million.
And now, at 11:30 Tuesday morning:
Over on Forbes there are more than 600 comments, probably 90 percent critical, including one guy who substituted my name in the classic scene from “Billy Madison”:
The debate’s still going on today over there, and on Twitter, and on Facebook, where I found a full rebuttal piece that’s really good. There’s a lot to chew on in this story — our notions of sportsmanship, our changing culture, honesty vs. clichés, the whole mythology of football being this brutal sport played by noble warriors. (If you’re not Richard Sherman-ed out at this point, read the great pieces by my friends Gwen Knapp and Joe Posnanski.)
But for me, it became about the flood of readers. It felt like when you get the Super Mega Bonus on a video game and you see the points spinning on the screen. The whole thing is just … overwhelming. It’s not that the piece is some masterwork — I’ve written a lot of stuff that’s better. Every writer has stories they thought would draw a huge audience and win awards, and NOBODY noticed. This one just happened to touch a nerve on a subject a lot of people were talking about. And I think the key part is, it landed at the right time — not too long after the game, and when all those Seattle and San Francisco fans on the West Coast were still awake. They got the ball rolling. This is where I remind you that I almost waited until the next day to post. Sometimes you get by on dumb luck.
It’s been a blast. But I can feel the rollercoaster slowing to a stop. What do you do when the ride’s over? You get back in the chair and go back to work.