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TNIAAM Roast Week: Matt McClusky

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Matt returns to stir the pot, and say thanks.

Ahhh…where do I begin writing about Shawn Shaun Seamus Sean Kelly Keeley? That poor Irish immigrant who so valiantly fought but ultimately lost his life on the Titantic lo those many years ago.

<What’s that? Sean Keeley is the blogger guy? Ohhh…>

Actually, it seems like it was just yesterday when Sean was the king of the Syracuse bloggin’ world, writing post after post. Remember that one time Sean wrote about why Syracuse basketball fans needed to calm down? Or that other time he penned the piece about why Syracuse football fans needed to calm down?

Good times, Sean, good times...

It’s unfortunate that John executed that hostile takeover of TNIAAM a few years back. Instead of getting not-so-different takes on how the sky isn’t falling on this SU team or that SU team, we now get brow beat with 4,000-word diatribes on the offense of Dino Babers and Syracuse football. John’s hijacked the shit out of the site, spending space describing what play Babers loves to run the most when his team is down 20 points in the third quarter while the harvest moon is in full view on the eastern seaboard.

You know what play that is? A SCREEN PASS TO A F#%^ING WIDE RECEIVER IN THE FLAT!

<deep breath>

Truth is, the roast of roasts was already written by the supremely-more-talented-than-I, Hoya Suxa. And furthermore, I can’t really fake hatred for Sean when I actually owe him a lot. It’s funny, given the fact that I have never once actually seen Sean in real life. For a good while, my wife was fairly certain that Sean was an Arabian Prince who had somehow gotten me mixed up in a pyramid scheme.

And while I’m not totally sure my wife is wrong, it was Sean who let me begin writing for TNIAAM back in 2012. That was an interesting time for me, as I was seemingly drowning in small-market TV news. I had made the flip from local newspaper/radio to TV, and after a few months it wasn’t going very well. In fact, in early February of that year, my news director called me in to his office for a meeting that I later figured out was to gauge how serious I was about learning the craft of writing for television. Effectively, he wanted to see if I was ready to throw in the towel and call it quits.

About three days after that meeting with the news director, I very-off-the-cuff emailed Sean and asked if I could contribute to his website. Sent on a whim then, but looking back, I kind of think I was challenging myself: I know I can write, and to prove it, I’ll put my work up there for the Syracuse community to either love or mercilessly kill. The latter is more of what's expected from the Syracuse Twitterati.

It took a few days from Sean to get back to me, maybe even a week. And by the time he did respond, I had given up, figuring that Sean got my email and thought to himself, “Who the hell does this guy think he is asking to write for MY Website?”

However, I simply wasn’t aware that blogging is often a thankless job where coming up with content can sometimes be like finding a Big 12 invitation in Storrs, Connecticut: a practical impossibility.

Sean did eventually email me because, as, especially back then, he wasn’t inundated with Newhouse kids willing to write about cross country and track and field and intramural ping pong like nowadays.

So I very eagerly started writing game previews. Then I began feeling my way around the website, writing some so-called “think pieces.” A little of what I wrote was crushed almost immediately. Even worse, some of what I wrote was essentially forgotten about even before I hit “publish.” (Ambivalence from the audience is worse than a stake through the eye.) But through the last four years I was able to write the way I wanted to, with Sean never once saying, “Why the hell are you doing this on my site?!” He always lets me and everyone else go in our own direction, so long as it’s from a genuine place. Shit, he’s let me write about super-personal issues when most other people may have just simply said, “That’s not exactly what we’re about here.”

And the greatest part of it all for me is that I’ve been able to interact with so many people from all over the world.

Take for example, that in fall of 2012, I wrote about how it was okay to start wondering if Doug Marrone wasn’t that good of a coach. It sparked some fun and some heated conversations with Orange fans. That was the same 2012 season when Marrone took SU to his second bowl game in three seasons!

I should have felt like the biggest dope ever for crushing Marrone just weeks before his team went on another run that led to his second Pinstripe Bowl victory. The thing is, though, the people of TNIAAM are essentially extensions of Sean. Skip Bayless doesn't come around here, yet debate and opinion is certainly more than embraced. I proposed a potentially “out there” topic and it was meant with honest-to-goodness back-and-forth dialogue.

And that’s really one of the biggest compliments I can give to Sean, on this ten-year anniversary of his TNIAAM. He’s built a website with a perfect sense of self with a community full of real comradery.

And the other plus for me is that I will always thank Sean and TNIAAM for helping me grow as a writer. Shit, his decision to let me sort of find myself on this website kept me from getting kicked out of the Small-Market TV News Reporting world. (There’s something Sean likely never knew.) And I’ve used that growth to go from small-market TV to small-market politics to small-market pro baseball to small-market radio….

Huh. Maybe things haven’t really “worked out” for me.

***

Nonetheless, I can’t say thank you enough to Sean. Sure, he really only needed me as a warm body who could write a couple of thousand words in a moment’s notice. Someone who would do it all for free. Someone who could help him build a bigger platform so he could use it to become an effing professor at Syracuse and write screen plays and….

<deep breath>

It really has been fun to read Sean’s work from essentially day one. It’s been a bigger thrill to be along for the ride.

Thank you, Sean, for letting me be a small part of this big-ass awesome thing that keeps growing and adapting in ways most stagnant websites and outlets can’t do. I think I speak on behalf of everyone with that sentiment. And we all know that whatever is coming next, TNIAAM will be there in some for or another. And you’ll be there letting someone else do all the hard labor!

Unless John’s already finished off Sean. In which case, all hail our new overlord, John! Let's hear more about that offensive scheme, John!