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9 Questions With the Editor of Deadspin

RCS: It's Super Bowl week, which means there are rather silly bets made between the mayor's cities. For the NFC Championship, you made your own bet with former Deadspin editor Will Leitch, and you lost, which meant you had to take a cookie sheet to the face and "get a tattoo of a buzzsaw on the top side of my right buttock." So, how's the face? And how much do you regret following through with actually getting the tattoo?

Daulerio: The face is fine, actually. I was a little dazed after the initial impact, but I assure you it wasn't as bad as it looked. Plus, as many of our commenters pointed out, I leaned forward ECW-style to let the front of my skull absorb most of the hit. I still didn't expect him to swing that hard. I think Leitch has been mainlining Wistrol.

Oh, and I forget about the tattoo most of the time. It looks ridiculous and it's now in that weird molting stage where the skin falls off and all that. It's kind of gross. But honestly: I would have regretted it more had I not followed through with it. I was confident in my team. They failed me. Again. But now I'll always be reminded for all eternity that it's never wise to put too much on the line when you're a Philadelphia Eagles fan. So no more tattoo bets.

RCS: As you point out, it was another disappointment for the Eagles, and their fans. In a chat on Tuesday, NFL Network's Adam Schefter said that Donovan McNabb returning to the Eagles "…has the makings of a Brett Favre drama written on it." Was the late season run enough to save his job? And why does is seem like no one in Philadelphia wants him around?

Daulerio: I don't know if his job was ever really in jeopardy. I think it would have been a little different had Kevin Kolb come in against Baltimore and completely lit it up. Regardless of what Deion Sanders says, I think McNabb's back next year. And I wish I could answer for all of the Philly haters who've been dogging McNabb, but I love the guy. He's always had these quirks about him that have never been endearing to a lot of the Philly crowd. As engaging and charismatic as he can be at times, he's also moody and listless. Oh, and weird.

But that's not only in Philly. His career has always been one where people accentuate the negative. I mean, did you listen to Troy Aikman during the NFC Championship game? You would've thought Tarvaris Jackson was out there if you were listening to that game on the radio. McNabb is consistently underrated and scrutinized over things that have rarely had any impact on the games he's played. I think there will be some haggling over money and McNabb will do everything possible to get as much guaranteed dollars tacked on to his contract, but I'm confident that the Eagles will do everything possible to bring him back. We need him here.

RCS: Getting back to Leitch for a moment ... Shortly after you took over as Deadspin editor in June, you said, "I think Will's success at Deadspin and in his

career would be a daunting task for anybody to follow. Our friendship has made that less of a worry and I'm always inevitably talking about the site with him anyway so to me, it doesn't feel like he's fully left. I like that. The readers like that. And I think the longer his stamp of approval and his contributions remain on the site, the better it will be." Now, six months later, how has Leitch's influence evolved since the time you took over?

Daulerio: I don't know if you could say it has evolved; it's honestly pretty much the same. I'll still go to him for guidance on how he would handle a particular post and sometimes I won't. There's rarely been an occasion where he's disagreed with how I've handled something so far and I haven't had any problems with how he's handled the "Emeritus" role. I keep him up to date on any changes personnel-wise or feature-wise on the site.

Oh, there has been some "tag" problems. There is this "alert" tag that was added to all Gawker blogs to indicate a breaking or big story on the front page. Will began using that tag anytime he wrote something, which is not the ideal use of that tag. I'm like, you do realize that tag is not meant to be your personalized doorbell, right? He understood. Kind of.

RCS: You had a big moment last week when ESPN cited your story as the source in the Mark McGwire-steroid controversy. This came some two years after they created a company policy that "…the use of the site 'Deadspin.com' as a source of credible information is not allowed under any circumstance." Were you surprised, and what does it mean for Deadspin, your relationship with ESPN, and more generally, sports blogs?

Daulerio: I don't think it's honestly as big a deal as I made it out to be -- or anyone did for that matter. I think we had the benefit of a slow news week on our side. Obviously, ESPN is a lot more open to not just us, but many other blogs out there as legitimate news sources. It's not like they just threw the story up there right off of our post and ran with it. The producers of both the morning SportsCenter and Around The Horn called to check out some of the facts on it before they ran with it. And the relationship with ESPN has always been a little more coridal than it appears. I think you'd be surprised at just how many people over there read blogs and enjoy them, even though some of the content is done at their company's expense. They take it all in stride and, frankly, probably realized any obsessive coverage about their programming and personalities from sports blogs is not bad for business.

RCS: Yahoo! and AOL have had blogs for a while, and now ESPN has jumped in the game with their network of NFL, College Football, and NBA blogs. Do you think the mainstream media is embracing blogs, trying to replace them, or both?

Daulerio: I don't think they're trying to replace them by any means. I just think they've realized that they can be used as a viable extension of their online presence that won't necessarily undermine their brand or their more traditional journalists. (Woah. That sounded very Six Sigma. Christ.) It's true, though. I think it's the same concept that most of the print publications have realized in the last few years which is posting some of your print content online (and keeping it there) isn't going to collapse the subscription model altogether. The online audience is growing more and more each day and there a lot more psycho-demographic studies and all that horses*** they can utilize to grow a business.

Yes, I just said psycho-demographics. I have no idea why.

RCS: Since you mentioned it, let's talk about the print publications for a moment. In an interview with RCS last week, new AOL columnist Jay Mariotti said, "If a writer thinks his paper is in trouble, it probably is. And by all means, get your butt out of Dodge, because that paper certainly isn't going to care about you when it decides to pull the cord." Do you agree with him -- is the online model the future of sports journalism?

Daulerio: If by the future you mean right now then, yes. Print will always have its place. I think more papers (and magazines) are going to have to recreate an identity and cater to a real-time, internet savvy audience from here on out. But, look -- no industry is really safe right now. I think we have to see what the country looks like economically in a few years before you can definitively answer the "is print dead?" question. I mean, does any one really feel like they have job security right now?

RCS: Do you feel more secure online than you would if you were writing for a print publication?

Daulerio: Do I feel safer being the editor of Deadspin as opposed to, say, being a columnist who's worked at the same mid-sized regional paper for 20 years? Yes. But, as I said before, no one is safe. There are a lot of unemployed, talented people out there who are desperate and willing to work for less just to have work. Everyone should be mindful of that. Everyone's expendable right now.

RCS: The editor of Deadspin in trouble? Surely you're being modest.

Daulerio: I'm being cautious and American!

RCS: As the editor of Deadspin, most would agree that you have one of the most influential jobs in sports media (and its growing every day). By earning the position of contributing editor for New York magazine, is it possible Will Leitch has less influence now than when he was at Deadspin?

Daulerio: I don't know. I think a lot of the influence that people say we have is a little overblown. I mean, I understand that a popular Deadspin story has a better chance of becoming more viral or mainstream, but there's no science to it. But I guess it's influential in the sense that, yes, some media folks don't like the negative attention that sometimes comes with being featured on Deadspin. And as long as Deadspin is still around, Leitch will have influence. This is his creation and his brand and even if he's not involved in the day-to-day anymore, it's still his baby. I'm just the guy currently in charge of putting whiskey on its gums while it grows some new teeth.

RCS: You have described well what Leitch's influence has been, and continues to be. What do you hope to be remembered for as editor at Deadspin?

Daulerio: I dunno. It's tough to think of it that way since I have no plans to leave anytime soon. Obviously this isn't the same site when Will left. Many, many people have made me quite aware of that fact. Some have even formed Facebook groups. The reality is that this site has grown (for better or for worse) and how it needs to be handled -- or, sorry, "edited" -- is completely different than it was six months ago. Right now, realizing that is my greatest strength. I have as much reverence for the Old Deadspin as many of the people who've dropped off and left since I took over. And that's fine. It's fine because many new people have replaced them. And, yes, the days of Deadspin being an exclusive little club are probably long gone but that doesn't mean it's ruined.

People who read blogs have a very myopic view of them. Some read them end-to-end throughout the day and want a long-running narrative; some just stop by to read about the subjects or the writers they like; some just come by to chat with their friends in the comments or work on their comedy routines with anonymous strangers. Anytime there's a minor change or a shift in the routine, it's usually not looked upon favorably. We all deal. Yes, I'll most likely be rememebered as the Deadspin editor who s*** his pants on a date with Linda Cohn, or the guy who got wacked in the face with the cookie sheet, or the guy who was in charge while a fat baby with an eyeliner mustache won the SHOTY award and, you know what, there are far worse things to put on an online headstone. But the reality is the main role I have on this site is identifying what works, what doesn't, and to help grow this audience. So far, so good.

RCS: Today, Dan Shaughnessy, your "fuzzy headed" friend, wrote a column essentially saying that Tom Brady has gone soft – given the chance, would you accept similar criticism if it meant Gisele got to feed you lunch?

Daulerio: Yes. And he would too. Because the reality is Dan Shaughnessy wrote that column then had intercourse with a bottle of Gerber's while looking at those pictures. We've all been there. That stuff is the perfect warm body replacement when you heat it up in the microwave.

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