“The problem with losing your anonymity, as the wise philosopher Marla Maples once noted, is that you can never go back,” writes Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch in his Wednesday profile of The Big Lead’s Jason McIntrye, whose figurative coming-out-of-the-closet follows the recent decision by the FJM guys to eschew anonymity (and my subsequent revelation that “Gerard Cosloy”, is in fact, a pseudonym).
Deitsch surveys TBL’s rise to prominence, and the role played, however unwittingly, by a certain morning radio host. Though contrite, ESPN’s Colin Cowherd claims he’s the sports blogosphere’s new kingmaker.
Last April, while hosting his national radio show, Cowherd urged his listeners to flood the Web site, an act that is commonly known in the 2.0 world as a denial-of-service attack. The added traffic was too much for The Big Lead’s server, and the site was forced offline for a couple of days.
“At the time I didn’t know much about The Big Lead,” Cowherd says. “I remember at one point just laughing and saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could just blow up a Web site?’ How did I know in four seconds that I would knock it down for a weekend?”
Cowherd’s act put The Big Lead on the map. ESPN’s ombudsman forcefully wrote that suspensions should occur for Cowherd-like acts in the future. NPR, Slate, USA Today and a host of other publications discussed the attack. It made TBL a sympathetic figure in the sports blogosphere — which covered it like D-Day — especially among those with an anti-ESPN bias. “I’m sure he felt like Mike Tyson knocking out a tomato can, but it didn’t take that much to knock us offline,” McIntyre says.
Not so, says Cowherd. “I’ve been on the air for more than a decade in radio, and the only thing I’ve ever regretted in my life is The Big Lead thing,” he says. “My dad was a small-business owner, and I would never in a million years inhibit a small-business owner’s ability to operate. It was very off-the-cuff. … I regret it. I felt terrible about it.”
In a next-gen twist of irony, Cowherd says he hears from sports blogs more than ever these days. “I have had hundreds of bloggers e-mail me and say, ‘Please blow up our site!'” he says. “Literally, it is a running joke on the show.”
Since all of this correspondence can be documented, it shouldn’t be too hard for Cowherd to turn over, say, a dozen electronic messages to Deitsch or the Ombudslady proving that he’s in fact, not totally full of shit.
Really, never mind “anti-ESPN bias” —- SI.com’s more of a competitor to ESPN than TBL. For some, this was less about a dislike of the WWL as opposed to taking umbrage at Cowherd taking advantage of his resources to restrict someone else’s free expression. This wasn’t merely a blip on his career radar, it totally cut to the core of his character.