Here's a little history:
Tennis rackets were strapped to my feet during an apocalyptic snow storm, where frozen darts streaked pierced my skin like lethal arrows. I found myself at the local pub, a second home in a town full of many second homes. Heavy with depression and the scent of booze, I found the joint configured much like an untouched chess board -- he's over there, they're over there, and she's behind the bar.
"The usual, honey", Casey asked with her distinctive southern drawl and a damaged voice box after years of smoking Marlboro reds. I nodded. She filled the double-shot glass and added an ice cold Budweiser to the right. That's what I need right now. More cold. The biting warmth of Kentucky bourbon were doc's orders after such a trek and allowed a more comfortable pour from my companion drink to the right.
When the door opened and a gust of snow poured in, everyone watched an anonymous shadow emerge. It wasn't the fear of the unknown, a courier of death that irritated my contemporaries. It was the disruption of a goal that only alcohol and depression could satisfy.
Above the bar was a single television, a CRT with actual dials and a clothes hanger substituting as an antenna, strapped to a metal shelf. The local news was interviewing Dr. Jack Hall, a paleoclimatologist who had been instructing people to stay indoors and secure themselves to a significant heat source until the storm passes. Only hours ago he had demanded that anyone under the Mason-Dixon evacuate to Mexico. Casey read my mind and poured the only heat source I'd ever need.
"Water," the stranger in a hooded cloak said, slowly removing the hood with an unnerving smile. "Wow, this weather," he said turning to an audience that concentrated their thoughts into the carved designs embedded into the stained wood of the bar. Some of us lifted our shot glasses in acknowledgement, preserving our energy for more important tasks. Casey poured another.
"What's your name," this stranger asked. Should I tell him the truth or make something up? With the world as it is today, announcing my actual true identity is risky. "Josh," I said barely moving the corners of my mouth to appear more friendly than adversarial. There's a shotgun behind the bar and a bartender with an instinct on when it needed to make an introduction. She wasn't near it.
"My name is Dave," the stranger said. "I have a proposition for you."
** Two hours later **
"So all I have to do is write about my favorite NFL team," I asked.
"Yep," he said. "I'm recruiting a team of NFL writers to cover every site at this company named SB Nation."
Months later, on March 15, 2006, Cincy Jungle was born. My first post:
Happy 9th birthday, CJ!
I'd like to thank my current staff for everything that they do. Jason Marcum who is always willing, waiting and ready to write and provide you with great topics. Anthony Cosenza, who has been with me since 2011 and who writes some of the best original material -- and one of my favorite debaters (usually because we always disagree). Thanks to Mickey Mentzer and Nick Seuberling for bringing their talents from Who Dey Fans to CJ, as well as their top-notch Inside the Jungle podcast -- that moment was one of the biggest in our history when this site needed something new. Rebecca Toback for demanding better quality writing and integrating her life as our primary editor.
Over the years we've had some great minds, writers, and fellows that have moved on to do great things. That includes Jason Garrison, who was one of my top lieutenants. Jake Liscow, who became a contributor for Pro Football Focus. Bryan Burke, who you remember as Mojokong, now galloping around the city writing for a local newspaper. Dave Wellman, whom I've known since the Bengals hired Marvin Lewis. Craig Conrad, who would do a "podcast" while placing his phone in a cup holder while driving around town.
Brennen Warner, who still hangs out with us, but also does work for other publications. The trusty draft analysis from Joe Goodberry, who is one of my favorite conversationalists on Twitter -- if for anything, to challenge my unbreakable view. Andrew Miller, Nick Crago, Mike Fightmaster, Cody Byers, Ryan Harper, Jay McDonnell, Vman, Mike Boyd, Chris Richardson, Aaron Seddon Goffchile (yep, I still see you), and Friar Bob. There's more... a lot more and for everyone that helped, thank you.
Thanks to the mods who allow us to focus more on the content side of things and create a more welcoming environment for everyone.
And you. Cincy Jungle would be nothing without readers and commenters, who honor and humble us by taking time out of your day to read our thoughts, to provide your own commentary and liven our little space of the world into a rich and colorful existence.
Casey... pour us another round.