I Was Cancelled in 2016. Then My Career Took Off.
I once had a Sports Illustrated byline. On the morning of July 8, 2016, I wrote tweets that ended my nine-year sportswriting career. Over six years later, I’m finally ready to address it all.
It was not even 10 a.m. After a late night of playing music at a downtown Austin dive bar, I was hungover as all hell, and not even halfway through my day’s first medium coffee.
I remember IM’ing the head of social media for the global tech conglomerate that had signed my checks for the four years up until then. If you need to know which global tech conglomerate, I suppose I can tell you it was Dell. That company was always beyond good to me, and I’m pretty sure that I was more than good enough for them — at least, other than that one time, I feel like always gave them my absolute best. I IM’d:
“So, ummmmm … just as a heads up …”
At the time, I was decent friends with the person I reached out to. By the end of my tenure at the company, I’d become friends with just about everyone in any kind of marketing or comms leadership capacity—but I probably wouldn’t have said anything had I not also run a corporate Twitter account. She wrote back:
— “John, we know.”
“Aw dammit, already?”
It had been less than 90 minutes since those tweets happened, but I should not have been surprised that she already knew. After I took a casual 20-minute commute-lengthed break from Twitter, I noticed over five hundred notifications when I logged into my personal account on the platform. In that kind of short span, I was used to about five. That kind of attention wasn’t just unusual, it was unprecedented.
At first, I thought something had gone wonderfully right. By the time I saw what I saw, I realized I was horribly wrong.
One Night in Dallas
The evening before those messages—in Dallas, a three-hour drive up the road from Austin, where I lived and worked and still do — Army Reserve Afghanistan War veteran Micah Xavier Johnson ambushed a group of police officers.