2013 Elite Series Ramada Quest Bull Shoals Lake - Bull Shoals, AR, Apr 19 - 22, 2013

An open letter to Brandon Palaniuk, Part 2

I’m on the record now for saying that the phrase, “Second place is the first loser,” is full of crap.

It’s a very catchy phrase,

but it is wrong.

And the reason it is wrong is because those who say it,

hide behind it.

It is a phrase of pity.

Trust me, young man, if you are in the freaking game and if you are giving it everything you’ve got…there is no way in the world you are a loser.

In reality, the first loser is the one who doesn’t make the game.

And stats mean nothing, to the player; read the water my friend, not the spreadsheets.

“…it's never too late to get back up again…”

So you are sitting in 93rd place.

Placed 90th at Sabine, 82nd at Falcon.


John Elway, Hall Of Fame QB, one of the best modern era quarterbacks to ever play the game…#1 pick…Mr. Franchise…

…lost three Super Bowls…

then, won, back to back…

…became a Champion the moment he took to the air in the “Helicopter” play in Super Bowl XXXII…

…at age 37.

Good that you kind of stink right now.

Champions are covered in bruises.

Championships are built on faces full of dirt.

Championships are built on tears, not smiles.

Every champion I have ever reported on

was covered in 2nds.  Tattooed in twos.

“…one day you will shine again…”

Now you may think I have no idea what I’m talking about.

Fair man, fair.

Think Manhattan.

Think fancy hotel ballroom.

Think fancy tux.

Think a round table filled with your friends/colleagues.

Think the biggest stage in the Sports Television game.

Think, the best story of your life.

“The envelope please…and the winner…”


“winner is…Bryant Gumbel, HBO Real Sports.”

And knowing, that ain’t my name.

Think the very next year, everything the same, redemption.

“…and the winner is…Bryant Gumbel, HBO Real Sports.”

Back to back him, not us at ESPN.

Next year, we are not even at the table.

Nor the next.

Three years later, we are back in tuxes and sitting at a round table, one round table over from…Bryant Gumbel.

“…and the…”

Everyone at our table has worked 200 hours a week to be here; everyone has given up family life, sleep, special occasions, played hurt, played exhausted, laughed together, cried together, smelled good together, been smelly together…

…and right next to us…there he sat…