This is supposed to be a goodbye column.
It's not. Mainly because I can't write one.
I tried, but all I kept getting was a blank screen. I'd write a few words, delete them and start over. It did not go well.
Here's the thing, though: I had to write something. This is my last post for SBNation.com after nearly three years, and they've been three of the best years of my life. So I couldn't walk away without writing one more piece.
I just don't want to say goodbye. I'm moving over to USA Today, where I'll still be on the racing beat. I'm excited about the future, but SB Nation has been a great home for me.
So this is hard.
Now I understand why those free agents say, "I'll always be a (insert mascot name here)" when they're on their way out the door. They probably feel conflicted about leaving, too.
I feel that way and then some, because this wasn't just another job for me; this was a career-saver.
When I was laid off three years ago from NASCAR Scene – my dream job at the time – I drove home that day thinking my NASCAR writing career was over. I can vividly remember thinking I'd probably have to move back home with my parents, because there was no way I'd be able to find another gig in NASCAR. Surely, I'd have to start over.
See, it's really hard to get a job writing about racing, because those jobs are being eliminated at outlets around the country – not added. On top of that, the entire journalism industry is struggling.
Being a NASCAR reporter sort of feels like musical chairs; when you lose your seat, you're out of the game. So that's what I figured just happened to me.
But the very next day, I got a huge break. SB Nation happened to be looking for someone to write about NASCAR for their startup website and found out I was available. I talked to the company's founder, Tyler Bleszinski, and the CEO, Jim Bankoff – and they decided to take a chance on me.
I'd never even heard of SB Nation, but they promised to let me write about whatever I wanted and pick the races I attended – as long as the NASCAR section's traffic was growing like it was supposed to.
It sounded like a sweet deal for a guy with no job.
Three years later, I still can't believe how it all went down. SB Nation turned out to be a network on a comet's path toward the upper echelon of the Internet world, and I got to be along for the ride. It's been a total blast.
Certainly, my departure won't do anything to slow SB Nation down. The company is guided by Bankoff – an absolute visionary – and a team of top-notch talent which remains vastly underrated (but probably not for long).
Have you ever had a job where you roll your eyes at upper management's suggestions because they're so out of touch? Me, too. But SB Nation was the opposite of that.
Every time I talked to someone like Bankoff, Bleszinski, Editorial VP Kevin Lockland, tech genius Trei Brundrett or the brilliant Spencer Hall, I learned something. They all helped me look at the job a different way. Same with co-workers like search guru Chris Thorman, social media whiz Ryan Hudson, editors Chris Mottram and Brian Floyd, the incredibly funny Jon Bois and my colleagues in charge of the various individual sports.
I'm not exaggerating, either. The whole company is filled with people who seem to be innovators on the leading edge of where the industry is going. Not only that, but the atmosphere is one of ultimate teamwork – the kind of support and camaraderie you'd see shared by some of the athletes we cover.
It's been an honor to work with a group like that, and it will be fun to watch them continue to shine and get well-deserved attention for what they're accomplishing.
Anyway, if you've read this far, you're probably thinking, "So why are you leaving, dumbass? Sounds like a great place."
It is. And trust me, it was the toughest decision I've ever made.
But I came up in the newspaper ranks, and ultimately I couldn't pass up the chance to write for USA Today when the opportunity presented itself. I feel guilty about leaving and sad about disappointing my SB Nation family, so I can only hope I'm not kicking myself five years from now (because that would really suck).
Ideally, I'll succeed at my new job while SB Nation does the same. I want the best for all of them, and I want to see the NASCAR section keep growing. I felt like it was my baby for the last few years, and there's a lot of potential for it to get even better.
So this is it. This is the end of my SB Nation run after more than 3,000 posts. But I'm not writing a goodbye column, because I refuse to say goodbye to my current group of co-workers.
Instead, I'd just like tell them this: Thank you.