Skip to content

Fun While It Lasted: Uni Watch/SI Partnership Goes Kablooey After 7 Weeks


Quick quiz: How many writers have had the distinction of being laid off by ESPN and Sports Illustrated in the same calendar year?

Hint: At least one!

This decision has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the current state of the journalism biz, which is something I’ve been telling you about for a while now. I have nothing bad to say about anyone at SI — they’ve all been great. Tough times, tough times.

I’ll have more to say about all of this on Monday. For now. suffice it to say that yesterday was one of the more surreal experiences of my life. I was out late drinking and commiserating with my (very brief, and now former!) colleagues last night, so I don’t have the energy or wherewithal to provide a proper entry today. Thanks for understanding.

The material that would have been in today’s Ticker will be folded into tomorrow’s Ticker. Phil will have that, along with his usual (read: awesome) content, on the weekend. I’ll have more to say about the state of Uni Watch on Monday. For now, I’ll just say that being let go by ESPN wasn’t the end of the world, and the same applies to being let go by SI. Is it a good thing? No. But is it catastrophic? Also no. I’ll be okay, promise!

Have a great weekend. Talk to you next week. — Paul

Comments (97)

    Paul, I’m sorry to read this news. You’re a great writer, and the Uni-Watch community appreciates you.

    Wishing the best for you Paul and all who contribute to Uni Watch. We’ll all still be here!

    Paul, I am very sorry. You are right, this is symptomatic of a larger problem in journalism that has been apparent for almost 20 years. Where is the high-quality content going to come from?

    Have you thought about teaming with The Athletic?

    Agree 100%. You’re a great writer and the Athletic would be perfect for you.

    That aside, you did not deserve to be laid off, but I understand it’s a larger problem in the journalism industry.

    Before I read the comments, the Athletic was my first thought – and I e-mailed them. Its clear many of us have the same thoughts. Don’t know how the financials would work, but it seems like a great spot for his content.

    I don’t get why the Athletic hasn’t made a move for Paul. They dropped a article on the Pistons teal uniforms a few days ago, have a section called “sports business” which I’d say uniforms and atheistics fit, and puts out quality content. I subscribe, but I’ll have to do as others and demand Uni-Watch there.

    As someone who was on the fence about the Athletic, this would definitely get me over there.

    Sorry this didn’t work out, Paul, but I’m sure there will be better things on the horizon!

    I’m sure you’ll be able to hop right back onto your feet. You’ve always looked very Athletic to me.

    Ugh this totally sucks; but you got the right attitude about the situation…wishing you the best.

    What a mess! It’s a shame what’s happening to these publications we’ve all grown up with. It’s even worse what’s happening to skilled and prolific journalists who make those publications great. Hang in there, Paul.

    Sorry to hear this. I’ve been an SI subscriber since childhood, and the last 10 or so years at least I’ve wondered when the last magazine will come…feels a little bit closer.

    I know you’ll wind up brighter on the other side, enjoy the weekend!

    Likewise! I’ve had a subscription going on 35 years and it feels like it’s going to stop before I do.
    Paul – I am sure you’ll be fine, cats always land on their feet. But it’s disruptive at a minimum, and just after things had seemingly settled down. Best of luck.

    I get SI for free and it’s still not worth the price at this point. I agree that The Athletic would be perfect for the column. As my father used to say, Paul, when one door closes another one opens.

    I was a 20 year SI subscriber. I stopped taking SI about 2 years ago when the editors decided to make it a political platform. If I wanted political commentary I’d take Time or Newsweek or some other weekly rag.

    They’ve done it to themselves.

    Noel’s opinion is devoid of fact. Sports Illustrated has always written stories that include the intersection of sports and society:

    Maybe Noel should stock to box scores and AP gamers.

    I killed my SI Subscription when SI did their “Protest Cover”. That wasn’t a story about sports. It was an issue which contained pure political commentary.


    Really with this? Paul and many others lost their gig yesterday but all you come with is some right-wing talking point? How about some damn empathy? You wouldn’t like it if you lost a job and people used it as a political tool.

    As Chris said, your argument is factually incorrect. And also, there has ALWAYS been an intersection of sports and society. If you’re a major outlet that isn’t reporting on those issues, than you’re an outlet that has its collective head in the sand.

    I have sympathy for Paul being laid off. That being said there is a reason for it and whether you like it or not, it’s value for the money. People aren’t subscribing to the printed version and apparently SI hasn’t found a way to properly monetize what they’re doing online.

    I got laid off 4 weeks after taking a job about 15 years ago. I know how it feels. I did much what Paul will do. I picked myself up, got a couple of contracting gigs which led to a job I’ve held ever since.

    Unlike you I have an OPINION. It’s MY OPINION. I didn’t like the magazine to which I was subscribing because it was no longer a SPORTS MAGAZINE in MY OPINION.

    And your “opinion” has no basis in reality as it is required to do. It is simply and unequivocally false. Which means it is not an opinion … it is simply nonsense that proves you ignorant. You crying about that being proven confirms that ignorance. You are a troll … you are here for no other reason than to spew political nonsense. Which is, ironically, what you claim the problem is with SI. If that SI actually existed, they’d hire you in a second.

    I just realized that I probably won’t get a new football phone if I renew my subscription to SI…

    So disappointed to hear this news. I had been hoping that the layoffs would not affect your new position with SI. I and so many others have come to appreciate your insights and perspective. Even though we have never met it feels as if I know you and difficult times for you feel like a personal blow. You will be in my thoughts and prayers as you navigate this setback. There are new challenges and opportunities ahead and I look forward to supporting you from afar through them all.

    Well, it’s a good day to have a burgeoning lapel pin business. Look forward to seeing you at tAthletic!

    I was disappointed to see the news yesterday, Paul. I caught the list of those let go in a Deadspin article and my heart sank when your name popped up.

    Your resilient attitude is admirable, and the work you produce is great. Here’s to you, and to the next opportunity.

    From Max Lucado:

    Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been seen before—such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.

    People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. “This horse is not a horse to me,” he would tell them. “It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?” The man was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.

    One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to see him. “You old fool,” they scoffed, “we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”

    The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you judge?”

    The people contested, “Don’t make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse.”

    The old man spoke again. “All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I don’t know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?”

    The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought he was fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed, a fool.

    After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. “Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.”

    The man responded, “Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you judge the whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire phrase?

    “Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a fragment! Don’t say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”

    “Maybe the old man is right,” they said to one another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.

    The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments.

    “You were right,” they said. “You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever.”

    The old man spoke again. “You people are obsessed with judging. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments.”

    It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.

    “You were right, old man,” they wept. “God knows you were right. This proves it. Yours son’s accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.”

    The old man spoke again. “It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this: Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know.”

    You’re a damn good writer, Paul, and it’s clear that that’s not what SI is interested in these days.

    There are a lot of people here who have your back and will follow you a whole lot of different places.


    Jeez, I read this as I’m drinking out of my Uni Watch coffee mug and all I can think is how can I help. It happens to everyone, but twice in a year is crazy.

    This is the end of SI, isn’t it?

    I’m sorry to hear that you were part of the layoffs, Paul. I’m even more sorry to hear that there were layoffs of this kind from THE sports magazine. While I hope it regains form, I’m afraid it will slip into a click chasing decline like Rolling Stone.

    Thanks for providing this site so we can get our uni content without fail and I hope that another organization (cough, cough, the Athletic) picks you up and gives you a place for new readers to discover your incredible insight.


    That sucks! It’s a shame the business is what’s driving these decisions, rather than the quality, but it’s been that way for a long time, unfortunately. Hopefully you find some stability soon, but it is helpful that you’ve been exposed to and prepared for this potentiality already. Good luck!!

    I haven’t posted in a long time but what Paul has been through just makes me mad. I feel for you, I really do.

    Sorry to hear that news, it sucks. Wishing you the best and good luck! Love this site!

    Sorry Paul. Know it’s not the end of the world and am fairly confident you will find a new and better gig, but still, TWICE in less than a year?

    Sorry to hear that, Paul. Unfortunately it’s not just a journalism problem, it’s an overall oligopoly problem in this country. I worked for the same large company for 12 years, but after a huge merger, got laid off almost exactly three years ago; last day of the third quarter, gotta make sure the financials look good for the parent company, actual profits and work be damned. I was lucky enough to be offered a job from a smaller competitor only 2 weeks later, thought I’d be there for the long haul. A month goes by and they’re bought by another large holding company and lay off our entire site two days before Christmas, after a little over two months on the job. I feel into a deep depression, that I still have not fully recovered from, partially due to being forced to work on 3-6 month contracts because my industry is terrified of another recession hitting. Keep your head up, man. You’re talented as hell, and you have a lot of fans out there.

    Paul…I saw someone who looked just like you in the R train going uptown. If it was you, you didn’t look happy. Now I know why.

    Sorry to hear of the lay-off. You will prevail.


    Oh man, I’m really sorry to hear this news Paul. Thinking about you and wishing you finding your next gig extra quick.

    Dang. Sorry Paul, I know that I for one would be more than willing to pay for the content that you produce and want to be able to support you to keep this blog moving!
    Best of luck moving forward and again, I’m sorry to hear this news and hope you’re able to enjoy your weekend

    Echoing others on the sympathies, but also Zach on the paying for content.

    I’m as cheap a person as they come (so people tell me) and I’d gladly pay for an annual subscription to your site. Not just Uni-watch, but a site with KRC, Uni-Watch, and your other musings.

    Not sure how that could be structured, but I’d think something like Monday Morning Quarterback was with Peter King, where you’re the lead, but others have daily/weekly entries as well. Somewhat similar to the blog with the ticker, 5+1, etc., but each occupying it’s own page instead of one sheet for everything.

    Just my $0.02.

    Control your own fate.

    Sometimes a smile is the best therapy… and the good news from this is you’ll have more time to focus on your new career as a “Dynamic Resonance Developer”


    I was reading the comments on the running deadspin article yesterday; Paul you were the most commented-on announcement. The athletic, gizmodo (although sounds like similar circumstances there); some as yet unknown publication will swoop you up, be better for it, and gain a built in audience. You’re not only one of the first “uniform guys”, you’re a hell of a writer. We’re behind you!

    I did the same, honestly it was cool to know that so many people there knew your work outside of SI, and were even making jokes that only People Who Get It would understand.

    Gizmodo is also a sinking ship, I’m afraid–too bad, because Deadspin and Uni-Watch are basically the only places I get my sports news these days.

    It sucks watching things you love, and look to for distractions from our crumbling world, crumble themselves. You could start an all-star team of writers from those let go by ESPN, SI, and what was the Gawker sites. If only there was one benevolent billionaire out there willing to give it a go, and let them unionize for Christ sake.


    I realize that I am echoing the sentiments of a lot of the other posters but I just want to say that I am sorry to hear this bad news.

    I learned about the SI layoffs yesterday and I was hoping for the best, but today’s posting confirmed the worst.

    Small solace now, but please take comfort in knowing that you are responsible for providing the best sports content on the Web and I will continue to follow you no matter where your path leads you.


    Sorry to hear this Paul, hope you’re doing ok emotionally. Being laid off is really hard, and twice in a year…just terrible. We’re with you man.

    How very sad. I am sorry Paul! Being laid off is hard on a person. The times I have gone through it I felt like there was something I could have done to prevent it even though it was 100% a downsizing thing. Basically, it messes with you and I feel for you. We all got your back!!

    Paul, sorry about the layoff. The one thing that you need to keep in mind is that TALENT will always be a commodity. See ya at the Athletic in a few weeks.

    Man, this really blows. Hopefully one of those irons that was in the fire during your initial transition is still hot. Best of luck Paul…the uni-verse is behind you!

    Sorry to hear this, Paul; figured it was coming when I read the article about the switch to theMaven (those two years under Meredith just FLEW by, seems like only months!), the EIC leaving, and then…. just this.

    Symptomatic of the world we live in, where most people get all their news, and form opinions, from headlines; they don’t read anything that doesn’t further cement their pre-existing viewpoint, lest they accidentally think for themselves. [stopped before I said anything political] Prepare for SI to become just another Bleacher Report or other sloppy blogpost site; don’t know how long the hard copy edition is going to last.

    I will follow your work. I think I’ve been reading your column since its first home (the Village Voice?) and will continue.

    I wanted to say that I am sorry to see the news about you and the other SI staff that was let go. But, I want to say that I really appreciate you and the other Uni Watch contributors. You are great writer and I hope for nothing but the best for you.

    What happens if we all go over to the Athletic and start pestering them to pick you up? Joe Posnanski just took his daily column over there. I’m sure it’s complicated because you run a blog not a column, but the Athletic seems to want loyal readers, and this crowd is the most loyal I’ve ever come across.


    So sorry to hear this, Paul. Hang in there . . . I am encouraged by your attitude and hope for good things for you.

    I posted a version of this on Twitter last night, but…

    The list of folks who have been laid off at both ESPN and SI is, necessarily, a subset of the list of those who have been HIRED at ESPN and SI. And there aren’t many people who have turned that trick, either.

    Sorry to see this, Paul. I’d heard on CBS 880 this morning that there were layoffs at SI and my first though was “Cant be Paul. If they just hired him, he can’t be part of the reason.” Alas, the world of journalism is suffering as readers keep changing their ways.

    Of course, Paul has buried the lede – yesterday’s real tragedy was Seahawk Action Green.

    The man was just laid off 24 hrs ago and you’re making a joke of it? Seriously?!?

    Agreed! Those unis looked like highlighters or road construction workers sans shovels to lean on. Anyway, Paul could always write for ESPN magazine. Wait, what’s that? Oh I see… never mind. Hang in there Paul. Life finds a way.

    Really feels like Paul got a raw deal from SI. However it is encouraging that from reading the Deadspin comments and here that there is a large audience for your work, larger than we may think!
    You will land somewhere and we will follow!

    Wishing you all the best Paul…this too will soon be a blip in the rear view. Let us know how and where we can help…content input, what we’d like to see, what we’d pay for…

    My best to you during this difficult time, Paul. I pray you’ll come through and out of this and land in something bigger and better than you thought possible. Take care…

    Talent finds a way, Paul. You have a ton of it. I am ready to offer some patronage, as well I know countless readers are!

    Many have mentioned “The Athletic”. It’s the only sports subscription I have. Would love to see Uni-Watch there.

    Hi Paul, so sorry to hear about that SI debacle, especially coming so soon after the ESPN crap.

    I’ve been a fan since I first read your work in the Village Voice. Time to shop for some Uni Watch branded merchandise (and finally purchase a membership card)!

    Wishing you and your loved ones all the best.

    After reading Deadspin’s coverage of the goings on at SI, I was worried this would happen. I’m so sorry to hear this news. You have provided so much great content and shone a bright light on an important and fascinating aspect of sports fandom for so many years (I’ve been a reader since “Page 2)”. Thank you for continuing to plug away at this.

    Many here & twitter are asking for The Athletic – The Athletic is also currently laying off

    We will follow wherever you land!
    Just keep bringing us that sweet, sweet content!
    Chin up and thank you for what you do!

    So it’s unequivocally false that Kerr, James, and others in the 9/26/17 edition didn’t engage in political rhetoric in the issue? Wow. Maybe you should read that issue again.

    Maybe if we were a more political society, we wouldn’t let corporations and algorithm-blinded investors grind down everything that defines a civilization into penny-ante racketeering and a race to every bottom that exists. Which creates a world where nothing has value except killing time.

    Honestly Paul, I’m very sorry. I’ve worked in large companies for the past 16 years. I’ve seen mergers, mass layoffs… I myself was laid off once before. I thought I saw it all until I read about the various stories today. I can’t comprehend how something could be handled so badly. I’ve never heard of a company hiring someone and then laying them off as part of a mass layoff less than two months later. And the overall way this was handled is beyond horrible. SI is obviously not what it once was.

    As for you you’ll land on your feet, as you know. There are better options with less idiots at the top that will value what you do.

    I rarely comment here despite being an avid daily reader for well over a decade now. For some reason this news is hitting me harder than when hearing about your ESPN tenure coming to an end. It seemed like (and was) a perfect fit and of course speaks more about the state of printed media today than anything else.

    I have nothing but confidence in your ability to once again land on your feet but empathize completely with the gut punch you are currently experiencing. I am glad you have the Uni Watch community in your corner during this difficult time. As Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!”

    All the best to you Paul

    Cheers to you – for the right attitude on the situation, to your excellent content (and the staff too), to everyone’s commitment, and for being a humble servant to the community which we serve (which you do in a far greater capacity than I and my staff). Thank you for your contributions over the years. Here’s to the continued success and future of U-W!

    When I heard about these rumors and news, I thought of you Paul. Like the others, I’m really sorry to hear this… best wishes and this community will continue to look for ways to support your work.

    So sorry to hear about your layoff, Paul. Fortunately, you’re among millions as this seems to be a frequent rite of passage for most middle-aged, middle-class workers these days. Executives are absolutely heartless and always put profits above people, especially these Maven company execs, who obviously have little interest in quality writing and reporting. Keep up the phenomenal work on Uni-Watch, and all will work out . . .

    Hi Paul,

    I’m sorry for your layoff. You create/share insightful and fun work, I and hope you find means to keep doing the work you love.

    Wishing you well,


Comments are closed.