In its 113 years, I feel like no one has
cared about the Daily more than me — doesn’t seem
possible. I want to pour my heart out in this column, but no matter
how hard I try, I don’t feel like I can empty it. Last night
I stared at a blank screen for an hour and a half. Instead of
writing this column, I just sat there crying as my eyes scanned the
Daily sports pages that are plastered all over my walls and my mind
skipped from memory to memory (J. Brady McCollough told me a column
like this writes itself. Obviously, J. Brady was lying … oh
yeah, is crying real?).

Jim Weber

There’s definitely been a lot of drama during my time at
the Daily. Bickering like children with former sports editors at
Pizza House. Those same editors writing a headline in the spoof
Jeopardy issue that year that requested that I “Lick these
Sourballs.” Getting passed over for positions at the Daily
over and over again, oftentimes because of personal issues;
becoming so frustrated that I ended up quitting the Daily, only to
come crawling back a semester later because of how much I love this
place. The anxiety involved with a women’s basketball story
that changed people’s lives. The sleepless nights after
meeting with someone in charge of South Quad’s resident
advisors who told me there were concerns that if I was an RA, I
wouldn’t care if someone was sexually assaulted after people
read my “Viewpoint” on dry humping (apologies to the
fellas reading this in the Squad cafeteria that would have been on
my hall if I hadn’t decided to quit after that meeting
— it would have been real).

But through it all, I’ve grown to love this place even
more. There’s just so much that makes the Daily special.
Here’s just a couple of things I directly or indirectly
experienced because of the Daily:

Getting advice from Detroit Free Press writer John Lowe, who
comes in and just helps out whenever he isn’t covering the
Tigers. It might be the most selfless thing I’ve seen in my
life. Knowing John, I’m sure he would say that he should be
the one thanking us. That’s the kind of person he is. The
picture of him standing in the corner of the library giving his tip
of the week at the Sunday staff sports meeting will never fade in
my mind.

Being trained by former sports editor Mark Francescutti, whose
presence in this building was electric. “The Bulldog”
used to refer to me as “Bulldog, Jr.” and is the one
that made me realize how special the Daily is. I also had a lot of
fun beating the crap out of him in wrestling matches. I hope
I’ve been able to impact people the way he affected me.

Working with my best friend and the greatest farewell columnist
of all time, “J.” Brady McCollough, since Day One. I
never would have walked into the Student Publications Building if
it weren’t for him — I was intimidated (I think that
says it all about how much the Daily has transformed me, like you
said a week ago). We co-bylined our first story on football
recruiting and talked about how we were going to cover the team
together as seniors. Our dream was always “the flight to
Oregon” for this past season’s game against the Ducks.
I didn’t end up covering football — hell, I
didn’t end up covering any of the three major sports —
but we did it so much bigger than we ever could have imagined,
didn’t we J. Braids?

Putting fun things on the football page — The Claw, the
“Hypemeter,” “Ugh! Turn my headphones up!”
and the “And den!” box. I hope everyone has as much fun
with the football beat as we did this year.

Watching former sports writer Joe Smith go to Modesto, Calif.,
by himself because he loves journalism so much.

Running down the aisles of the press box to reach the Daily
football writers, pointing to the student section as you guys did
The Claw, and saying way too loudly: “Look at ‘em, they
love it!” What started as a joke between Brady and I somehow
turned into controversy.

Swapping jokes with former sports staffer Ryan Maloney, the
funniest kid this staff has ever seen, in the press box at football
games this year as stringers for different publications. I’ll
never forget laughing our asses off at the idea of Braylon Edwards
scoring a touchdown and grinding with the members of the dance team
who wear No. 1 jerseys. We dubbed them “Braylon’s
Bitches.”

My friend, Varun, and I starting a debate between Markus Curry
and Courtney Morgan at a party about who was the greatest rapper of
all time, Biggie or Tupac. Then watching Chris Perry charge into
the circle with the Diamond sign up to cast a vote for Jay-Z while
screaming, “HOV!”

Being able to write a letter to my Dad in the Daily before the
Ohio State game, and then writing about the prank I pulled on him
at the game in Monday’s section.

Working with the young writers throughout the year on
Monday’s back pages and seeing them getting as excited about
the Daily as I am.

Working on SportsMonday for 14 hours, then waiting to see the
back page as a PDF on the Daily’s website (luckily, with the
late posting, I didn’t wait up this past Sunday …
)

Ryan Sosin telling me that this campus was screwed by getting
just one semester of my columns (I totally agree, but take comfort
in the fact Nas’s Illmatic is only 40 minutes long).

Receiving feedback on my columns from my No. 1 fan (if only
because there is only one) — thanks Krissy! Then getting
excited when I get another e-mail about one of my columns, just for
the person to say it sucked.

Screaming “I’m the Realest” after winning a
pool game at Mitch’s last Wednesday, only to have a girl
throw her beer and my beer in my face.

Seeing people like Katie Niemeyer and Stephanie Wright or Jamie
Josephson and Anne Uible or Ellen McGarrity and Megan Kolodgy
becoming good friends through the Daily.

John “his friends call him Joe” Stiglich hanging out
in the building last week and getting excited talking about the
Cubs.

Matt Singer not getting the beat he wanted and instead of
pouting, working his ass off to make sure he isn’t passed
over again.

Two of our softball writers, Ian Herbert and James V. Dowd,
calling the Daily at 2 a.m. Monday and asking if they could stop by
after traveling to Iowa City for the day, and then telling us we
missed out on a great road trip. I’ll take your word on it,
fellas.

Eric “Little Bird” Ambinder pouring his heart into
our weekly power rankings even though he doesn’t get to put
his name on it.

The mocking voice of Managing Sports Editor Gennaro Filice.

Meeting someone because of the Daily that I fell in love with to
the point it’s unconditional.

 

Any sports staffer I didn’t mention above, you know I care
about every person on this staff.

 

I can’t help but laugh thinking of the coincidence that my
biweekly column landed on the last day of publication for this
year. Here until the very end, that’s me (check out the
Q&A on page 19). Most seniors walked away from this building
three months ago after the Jeopardy issue, ready to move on with
their lives by looking for jobs. I’ve kept working here
during the second semester and still haven’t interviewed for
a single job (I figured instead of working on Wall Street with my
B-school classmates, if worst comes to worst, I can always just
sell them cocaine on their lunch breaks).

I’m still not ready to say goodbye to this place; letting
go of the Daily is going to be the toughest adjustment I’ve
ever made, as I’m left to wonder if I’ll ever be this
happy again in my life.

 

— Jim Weber can be reached at
“mailto:jamesmw@umich.edu”>jamesmw@umich.edu.

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