Lasting lessons of a Page 2 editor
Editor's note: Page 2 is closing its doors after nearly a dozen years of service at ESPN.com. Look for your favorite writers, original multimedia, magazine contributors and scores of other new features in a new section beginning Monday, April 16.
Page 2 was inspired by a lot of things -- not the least of which was the brilliance of Esquire magazine. So, as we make the final stop on this journey, here's an edition of "What I've Learned" from Page 2 founding editor Kevin Jackson:
• In hindsight, the crash of the XFL blimp probably was just a publicity stunt.
• When Hunter S. Thompson asks you to hold a samurai sword for him, you should comply. Quickly. Even if it means dropping the bullwhip he asked you to hold five minutes earlier. And make sure you mix your own drink at Woody Creek.
• George W. Bush's people apparently are not going to get back to us about that list we requested for Nov. 7, 2000.
• The best features are usually born on days when someone misses deadline. That's how we came up with both "Here's Looking At You" and "What the Heck Were They Thinking?" When the clock nears "noonish ET" and the page has a giant hole in the middle of it, necessity is indeed the mother of invention.
After nearly a dozen years of cracking wise at the sports world, Page 2 closes its doors. We remember a golden era:
• All the kids are wearing Tigger costumes these days.
• The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry gave the page a rich storyline each fall in those early years. It always helps to have an antagonist that the masses are rooting against. Grady Little, Aaron Boone and a bat-throwing Roger Clemens didn't hurt, either. Of course, once the Red Sox finally won, they became unbearable, too.
• If I had to drive cross-country with two other people, they would definitely be Jim Caple and Road Dog.
• Yes, I do know Bill Simmons.
• NFL teams should not punt on fourth down -- even in their own territory -- no matter what the statistics say.
• Every day, at least 10 users would recommend Will Smith and Robert Horry as a "Here's Looking At You" match.
• How you wear your stirrups does say an awful lot about you.
• We continue working to erase all evidence that Michael Jordan played any NBA games after June 14, 1998.
• McDonald's has the best color scheme of all major North American restaurants.
• "Now I can die in peace" actually referred to the Patriots years before anyone ever associated it with the Red Sox.
SIMMONS SAYS ...
Page 2 alumnus and Grantland.com founder
Bill Simmons, on the
end of the Page 2 era:
"The page that gave me my start at ESPN folds shop today after 12 years. Here's my favorite thing that I ever wrote for Page 2 ... and the only column I ever handed in drunk. (No, really, this was the only one.)"
• Ralph Wiley's ode to nude 9-ball remains a timeless classic. Losing Ralph when we did was an enormous blow and robbed future readers of his weekly brilliance.
• Which was better, Sam the Eagle and Matt Doherty, or Don King and Wilson the "Cast Away" volleyball? I still can't decide.
• Even if you use a 72-point headline that says "THIS IS PARODY," at least 10 percent of the users will be fooled.
• If the headline says "THIS IS NOT REAL," that number drops to 5 percent.
• All the great ones communicate via FAX machine -- at least David Halberstam and the Good Doctor always did.
• The most dangerous day of the year is Super Sunday.
• Our 2003 ballpark tour was just an elaborate scheme to test the limits of Disney's expense-report system.
• The best joke that I ever had to cut out of a Page 2 piece for ... uh, taste reasons, was written by Nick Bakay and involved Wilt Chamberlain and the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.
• In hindsight, I'm surprised it took us almost 10 months to realize the power of an Anna Kournikova photo gallery.
• Every young journalist should get the benefit of working with an editor like Jay Lovinger. Unfortunately, there's only one Jay Lovinger.
• Boxing is the sport with the highest degree of difficulty, but ice hockey isn't far behind.
• Yes, I'm sure Bill would be happy to sign your book if you shipped it to him.
• If only we'd known that sports blogs, social media, doctored photos and viral videos were going to catch on, we maybe could've made some money off this thing.
Kevin Jackson, along with fellow editors Jay Lovinger and Jim Wilkie, launched Page 2 on Nov. 6, 2000.