So then after KSK, you worked for SB Nation, of course, you included the Game of Thrones Scorecard, NFL Dad, Keepers. Who came up with the name “Uffsides” for the podcast, and—?
—Okay, I was gonna ask, if it wasn’t you, what did you think about when you heard it for the first time?
You know, I didn’t expect a show to last for like five years. One thing that sticks out in a career that has mostly been spent online since I left the Marines is I’m just really horrible at naming things. Blogs, shows, columns, not good at any of it. Just, I write and I want to tell jokes, but coming up with names for things is incredibly difficult and I’m bad at it.
Yeah, I remembered reading that you said you preferred writing to being on camera?
Yeah, when you’re a writer, you can control the message entirely. And any time you get anybody else involved, whether it’s being the subject of an interview, and you put your words into somebody else’s hands, or whether you’re making a video, and you trust an editor to put together a best cut of something, it becomes a collaborative process, and that’s something that you lose control of if you do anything beyond just writing. So, I really like making video, it’s a lot of fun. It’s good to work with other people, it’s better to not just live in an enclosed space and control every single word of every message. But the control is nice.
What was your biggest hang-up, not of the process, but the actual being on camera? If there were any?
You know, similar to the Fight Gone Bad videos that I commissioned, the hardest thing was just getting over myself, and that you can’t do video if you’re self-conscious about what cool people might think and about how you look or about what you’re doing with your hands or about how you stand or what shirt you’re wearing, you know? All you can do is just be yourself and be fine with how you are. And I worked hard to get better at it, for sure. It’s definitely like, the beginning of my tenure at SB Nation is not nearly as good as the stuff I did towards the end. But a key point, the biggest key point for me at the beginning was just getting over thinking what other people saw when they saw me in front of the camera.
Going back to the scorecard and with Warming Glow, television blogging was built around the model of a fairly large community of people watching shows as they premiered all together. Where do you see the future of TV blogging headed now with Netflix and streaming, and that whole sharing experience becoming more and more obsolete?
I’m grateful that I don’t have to run any entertainment websites, because of the way a splintered audience has created—a splintered TV audience means that you’re getting a splintered Internet audience, which means that the recap culture of “Hey, we just watched an episode, now I’m gonna write about all the things I thought as each scene happened,” I don’t understand how that stays profitable. I don’t understand how you’re paying a recapper to watch every single episode and then feed into a community of people who are all just reading about it, like a show enough to watch every single episode of it, and then go online to find your recap of that episode. That doesn’t seem viable to me over the course of a year, two years, three years, maybe four years. I don’t know. But it’s also not my problem.
You said, when you announced your departure from SB Nation this past February, no condolences, so I’m not gonna give any, plus I don’t have a Twitter so I couldn’t give you any on Twitter anyway, and it’s been five months so it’s a little late, but… were the sweatpants comfy?
They were. I have a couple different pairs of sweatpants, I’ve got the expensive pair that are, like, much more than you should ever spend on sweatpants, but they kinda look nice, they’re the nice-looking sweatpants. Then I also have a pair from, I don’t know, Target or something like that, where I was like “Ooh hey, these are comfy.” I rotate those around. Sometimes I really kick up the A/C and just enjoy sweatpants in the summer.
But no, it has been a long time. Five months is a long time to be without an official job, and definitely ready to have something more steady.
Since then, I’ve you’ve had freelance projects, you’ve been writing here and there, you’ve taken over the mailbag for Drew on Deadspin a couple times. You’ve been writing on the Seahawks for Forbes. I guess call this naive or ignorant but… Forbes has a sports section, other than, like the Forbes Sports Money show on the YES Network?
Yeah. I can’t speak for Forbes but they approached me and they were looking to have people cover specific NFL teams. They approached me about writing on the Seahawks, and I said yes. I’m saying yes to everything right now. I’m just—I’m looking for that scrilla.
…Talking about the Seahawks a bit, what do you think about them this year, I mean, the dismantling of the LOB—
It’s a real bummer. It is hard not to have an emotional tie to the players who were the core of a championship team, and I am extremely displeased that the Seahawks seem so unwilling to keep Earl Thomas on the field with an extension, even though recent extensions for other players have turned out poorly—Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, Marshawn Lynch. But, it’s just a real bummer as a fan.
As for how I think they’ll do in 2018, I think it’s important to remember that the team had a bad year in 2017, and that was, they finished 9-7 and were a couple of missed field goals away from making the playoffs. With Russell Wilson, Russell Wilson is a, I don’t know, I hate even using the word elite, because then if you say somebody’s an elite quarterback, then you’ve got a whole other sub-argument, people saying that “No, he’s actually a second-tier quarterback.” Whatever, he’s a very good quarterback, the team could easily outperform expectations, you know? Most advanced models have them at 8 or 9 wins. That’s a couple fumbles and lucky bounces away from the playoffs. It could happen.
I’m too tired to be upset every single Sunday. I’ve got—as I’ve gotten a little bit older and I’ve spent more time with my kids, putting time into my family can be stressful. It’s stressful to raise kids, but there’s always a return on my emotional investment. The same cannot be said for any NFL team that you might happen to follow. So I’ve been trying to kinda cut my losses emotionally, so to speak, as I look at the team this year.
What do you think of Pete Carroll?
…(Sighs) He’s fine.… There are the very obvious things, that, people can make fun of him online for the 9/11 trutherism, and there’s also a lot of things that I disagree with over the last couple of years. It’s annoying to me that it’s 2018 and we’re talking about the final play of the Super Bowl, the final definitive play of the Super Bowl that happened four years ago, it’s exhausting. I resent not the playcall, but the fact that we’re still talking about it, the players are still talking about it, that it’s something that people’ll talk about until I die and sets me free from that annoying discussion.
I’m disappointed that the team canceled Colin Kaepernick’s workout. That was pretty stupid because it’s not like they have a viable backup, and Colin Kaepernick is probably the most sensible person to back up Russell Wilson of any human alive.
Other than that, he’s a pretty good coach. I don’t know, there’s lots of things. The next thing I’m writing for Forbes [online now, here] is about the Seahawks’ slow starts, how they scored a grand total of 7 points in first quarters on the road last year. Yeah, it’s really bad. A team shouldn’t start that slowly, especially if you’ve had all week to gameplan against it. So Pete Carroll? I’m grateful that he helped put together a team that won a Super Bowl. He’s a coach. I like him, for the most part, because he’s my coach, but I don’t know. It’s hard to get really emotional about things.
So speaking of Kaep, as a veteran, what is your opinion of football players taking a knee, and are you personally disrespected?
Nah, and I object to this whole, this whole wave of content where veterans are granted a certain platform, where it’s like “As a veteran, Colin Kaepernick is not disrespecting me,” “As a veteran, I feel disrespected by Colin Kaepernick,” “As a veteran, I’m for gun control,” “As a veteran, I’m against it.”
What I’d be more interested in seeing is the people who are not veterans being more invested in veterans’ affairs without being deferential to their opinions. Veterans, there’s no veteran issue that veterans can agree on. It’s just a subset of diverse people who happen to have served in the military. And, I think it’s unfortunate.
The oath is to the Constitution, not to the flag, not to a song. But, you know, it’s an argument that has already been played out ad nauseum online anyway, and it’s not something that I’m interested in carrying out today or any day.
As you mentioned kind of your emotional detachment or your gradual emotional detachment, do you still like the NFL? And do you think the owners are aware of the damage they and Roger Goodell are doing to the league?
Do I still like the NFL? I don’t think I’ve ever liked the NFL as a league. Or if I did it was before I was, you know, cognizant of certain owners and structure and blah-blah-blah and pro-labor. Do I think they’re cognizant of damage they’re doing to the league? I don’t think they’re cognizant of much outside their own little bubbles. I think that any billionaire or someone who owns a billion-dollar property is going to exist in a reality bubble, where if your peer group is other NFL owners, who is, like, this interview and how I feel about the NFL is never going to reach their eyes. No, they don’t have any idea of what people are saying. The players can tell them the issues, and they’re still in shock and surprise about what the players say and feel. I don’t think there’s any way to permeate that reality bubble they live in. Now, are they doing real damage to the league? I don’t know. I think we might still be a generation away from any sort of actual fallout from where the league is now. Me personally, it’s too ingrained into who I am. Like, I don’t think that I can, I don’t want to be emotionally tied to the Seahawks, but at the same point, come Sunday, I don’t really—like a moth to the flame, it’s part of me, it’s ingrained in who I am now, so I can’t, I don’t think I could cut the team out. Or at least my emotional attachment to them is too intertwined with my person. So I’m stuck with them.
What do you think is the future of the NFL, if you think especially that the damage might be a generation away?
I don’t know. A lot depends on which kids are able to still play the game, five years from now, ten years from now, fifteen years from now. You talked about the damage that Goodell and the owners have done to the game, I think that the nakedly capitalistic rules that the NFL took on when Goodell became commissioner, that “we’re gonna be a $25 billion league,” “we’re going to expand overseas,” “we’re going to—,” you know.
The fact that they ever wanted to put a team in London despite a blatant disregard for time zones and the human body clock goes to show that their preoccupation with growth instead of sustainability is problematic. And, future of the game, I don’t know. I’m not a fortune teller and—can’t say, I’m not sure. All I’ll say is I hope that the NFL doesn’t become like boxing, only something that old people and a niche audience pays attention to. Because it’s one thing to cultivate a single boxer or a pair of boxers for a big title fight, but the sheer number of people you need in order to sustain the NFL is going to make that a harder prospect moving forward.
What do you think about the future of sports in general, especially the rise of eSports and things like that?
That’s a good question. What do I think about the future of sports? People are gonna keep playing sports. eSports is some of the most interesting branding I’ve ever seen, because it’s just video games in an arena, and it is weird to me as someone who’s in that, what, 30-54 demographic, 34-52 demographic, whatever it is. That there’s this—huge crowds of people way into this thing that I just don’t get. I’m gonna try to figure it out, I’m gonna try to learn more about it, but I don’t think I’m ever going to be emotionally invested in video games in a gigantic arena, but—y’know, if that’s the future of in-person entertainment, then I can take my kids to that, and that’s fine too.
What have you loved the most and hated the most about being a freelancing journalist?
I have loved the most is the freedom and the creative freedom I’ve had. And at this point in my career it’s nice to be able to have a rolodex of people who are open to pitches for me, from me. And to have them received warmly, even if I don’t get a yes, I at least get a timely no, which is so much more than many other freelance writers ever get. And that has been a joy, to—my in-laws were in town for a week and a half, and I was able to just kinda, not work, to spend time with my extended family, and I didn’t feel like really any pressure to “Oh, I’ve gotta get to the office for this, I’ve gotta do this or that.” It’s just like “Well, I’ll pick this up when the time comes.” That’s good. The thing I’ve disliked the most is clearly the pay. Freelance pay is the worst it’s ever been in the modern era, and as the father of two kids and a husband I want to be able to provide more than what a freelancer’s salary can be. But in the meantime I’ve been able to do some projects that I’ve wanted to do and wouldn’t have done if I was still making videos at SB Nation, and I’ve been able to work with websites and with people who I’ve long admired and wanted to write for. So, it’s been overall, the good has outweighed the bad.
Anything in the works that you can tell us about so far?
Hmm, what can I tell you about? I don’t know, I’ve got—like I said, I’m in the business of saying yes. I said yes to this interview, I say yes to everything that I can, and that’s been another upside of freelance work, is that being open to anything has been helpful. I recently wrote a script for a digital cooking show for kids, that will never see the light of day because it was a spec script, but that’s the kind of work that I’m willing to do.… I’m in talks to write more columns for more places, places that I haven’t written for, I’m in talks for that, those may or may not come to fruition, or they may come to fruition, and then stop abruptly if I start working full-time for someone else. So, this has been the longest, vaguest answer possible.
What would today’s Matt tell first day of OCS [the Marine Corps Officer Candidates School] Matt?
Man, fuck. I think the first day of OCS Matt, I was still—it would be, “Just have confidence in the person that you are.” OCS is, I think in the past I’ve called it like “sleep-deprivation camp.” It’s something that is meant to weed out people who aren’t fit for the job. I knew that I was fit for the job, and I think that at times I was still too afraid of failure. And I think that just telling him to have confidence in himself and who he is as a person, that “you’re up to the task, in ways you can’t even know.” So, that would be the biggest difference between me now and me then.
And also, “Enjoy your lower back’s health while it exists,” because it’s gone now.… I’m presently on what we call “light duty” in the Marines, I’m trying to not pick up my kids right now because I’m in—I’ve tweaked it a couple times in the past, and you know when it happens, when you can feel, like, the nerve damage down your leg and you’re like “I can’t feel my foot, that’s bad.” Right now I’m just dealing with a lot of pain and soreness and I can’t bend down, and that’s really happened since I had kids [they’re 3 1/2 and 2]. It’s like living with sentient kettleballs.… They’re really cute, and I like having them around, but they’ve been terrible for my back.
And, I guess the last question, which I’ve been instructed that I was mandated to add or else I wouldn’t be allowed to come back—
Okay, so this is a good one.
—How do I get my long-distance girlfriend to be down with anal? (I start laughing midway through the question.)
You knew it was coming, right?
I did not. I did not, it’s been a while. I think you just have to be willing—actually, it’s interesting, because I’m gonna give that some more consideration than it really merits. But my wife and I have talked about how that mailbag really did help me with, it was the first thing in my career that was—it was kind of a turning point for me as a person, going from someone who was kind of creating a net negative for the world online, to someone who was creating a net positive for the world online. And the short answer is I’ve now been with my wife for eight years, and I’m really thankful that we have strong communication and empathy for each other in our daily lives. So, if you wanna go backside across international boundaries, you just gotta have strong empathy. What are you not listening to?
First and foremost, I want to thank Matt Ufford for being game for sitting down and doing this interview, and I apologize to him for it being as lengthy as it was—I had my crib notes and questions because I was terrified that I’d totally blank on asking him stuff. I’d like to thank Rikki-Tikki-Deadly for helping get this interview together by putting us in contact. And I’m sure the writers of this site would be with me in thanking you all for reading and for commenting over these last three years, whether, like me, you migrated after the events of Black Friday, or you found us some other way. Thanks for being a part of this community.
Oh, and I’d like to apologize to the woman sitting at the table next to us on her laptop, who probably didn’t expect to hear the last question. I wonder what was going through her mind.
Banner image via the Superhero Wiki.