Go Long turns 1 year old

What a fun year it's been and we promise: We're only getting started.

Good morning, readers, listeners, subscribers, all consumers of Go Long.

Coming to you live from Cleveland, Ohio this fine A.M. The Browns are a wildly fascinating team right now so I figured we’d put your investment to use and truck on down to learn more. And sitting here, sipping a little hotel coffee, it’s still hard to believe how insanely fast this year flew by.

It feels like yesterday that our family took the plunge to launch this Go Long newsletter and, truthfully, I had no clue what to expect. From Day 1, the goal was to cover pro football through a longform lens, to bring you all something different. A profile. A peek behind the curtain on a team. A Q&A. A podcast.

What a joy it’s been to see our community grow.

You’ve got an infinite number of media outlets at your disposal and choose to work Go Long into your life — I’ll never take that for granted.

Untethered by corporations or advertisers, we’re completely powered by you. Thank you for supplying the wind in these sails. Man, it’s been cool to connect with subscribers from Buffalo to Wisconsin to Colorado to Winnipeg to London to Sweden. Without getting too far into the business weeds I can absolutely share that — because of you — Go Long is positioned for the long haul. This is no “venture” or “project.” We are here to stay. We’ll continue to hunt for fresh longform stories and build our community in exciting new ways, month to month, season to season.

Have a question? A thought? Anything to say at all? Feel free to email me at golongtd@gmail.com or drop a DM @TyDunne.

I’m looking forward to having you onboard for another year. And, for those new ‘round here, feel free to sign up or subscribe right here:

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One year in, your feedback has been unbelievably encouraging. Contrary to what social media would lead us to believe, I think people do enjoy spending 20 minutes of their life reading a story to learn something new, rather than aimlessly scrolling away on a Twitter feed. We all fall victim to that, right? It’s so easy. But what attracted me to this Substack platform was their mission to help people “take their brains back.”

Your email inbox is a sacred place. We’ll fill it with substance, not fluff.

I think you’ll love what we have planned for the stretch run this 2021 season and beyond, too. Down here in Cleveland, I hung out with the man-beast you’ve seen mash linebackers into new dimensions each week: Browns guard Wyatt Teller. Expect a long look at these Browns down the line, too. For the WNY’ers, I’ll also have a conversation with former Bills receiver Stevie Johnson to share. The great Bob McGinn, who has brought his decades of expertise to the “Ty & Bob Pod,” is working on another “McGinn Files” feature that’ll drop soon. These longform pieces dig deep into what scouts said about the greats — like Brett Favre and Aaron Donald — and what happened to those players next.

Speaking of Bob, the 2022 NFL Draft is going to be here before we know it and nobody in the business is more connected with scouts, coaches and execs. Bob’s unparalleled draft series will continue to live and breathe at Go Long.

Also, longtime personnel man Jim Monos will continue to share his unique perspective on the Go Long Podcast and in the Monos Report. Loved our chat with the quarterback he inherited in Buffalo, EJ Manuel.

Another new feature we added to our coverage has been the 10-episode “Isaiah McKenzie Show.” We’re six eps in and the Buffalo Bills returner/receiver has been incredibly insightful and entertaining.

One bit of feedback I have received is that you’d like me to fire up another Zoom Happy Hour. Let’s do it. Expect an update soon. I’d love to see as many of you as possible, and we’ll get a NFL player in there, too.

Whether you’re on Coffee No. 1 or Coffee No. 7 this morn, here’s a quick look back at some of our best stuff from Year 1.

Again, thank you for your support.

Let’s fire up the Jim Croce and finish this season strong.

  • Buffalo Bills’ owner Terry Pegula loved Patrick Mahomes before anybody else. He knew he’d be a star. Yet, Pegula didn’t go full Jerry Jones and force the Bills to draft him. This two-part series takes you through the Bills’ quarterback odyssey. Josh Allen was the team’s consolation prize one year later, and has worked out well. The pressure was on Allen in 2020. (Still is in 2021, too.)

  • Mike Zimmer is not for everyone. Past co-workers have described the head coach as everything from “a very disgruntled, pissy old man” to “joyless” to “a big blamer” to “an equal-opportunity asshole” to “pissed about everything.” Yet, the Vikings continue to believe. We took a long look at the coach and the franchise sticking with Zimmer and Kirk Cousins. (At 5-5 this season, the Vikings could still go either direction, too.)

  • The fight for Erik Kramer’s life may drop your jaw. It’s still hard to fathom what the former Bears quarterback has been through since playing. Kramer put a bullet through his head, survived and was then coerced into a sham marriage that nearly ruined him. It took years for his brain to turn back on and he says about $700,000 was stolen from him. He’s still standing. Somehow.

  • “Jerry’s World” in Dallas has always been a source of fascination. It’s just different here… in every conceivable way. We took a three-part look at everything that’s happened these last 25 years since Jerry Jones’ Cowboys won three rings in the 90s. From the actual drafting of players to the owner’s partying lifestyle, you start to see how the richest franchise in sports goes so long without a championship.

  • Last spring, Go Long flew to Florida for several features. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Kenny Moore were both raw as heck. MVS relived his close calls as a kid growing up in St. Petersburg, while Moore wasn’t shy ripping “The Patriot Way.” But our profile on Lynn Bowden Jr. seemed to resonate more than anything with you and remains our most-read piece at Go Long. The Dolphins wide receiver has since landed on IR but his story says as much about Mike Mayock, Jon Gruden and the modern NFL as it does himself.

  • Bob shares stories on Brett Favre nobody’s heard before. There’s never been a rise quite like this. After 10,000 words, I was left wanting more. Bob was there for every snap of Favre’s Green Bay career and talked to the man himself for this.

  • We sat down with “The Majik Man.” Don Majkowski has endured a life of miserable pain since playing 10 seasons on 10 one-year contracts. He relived the hits, the aftermath and his bout with depression. As he put, “Living in pain every day is debilitating. It sucks the personality out of you.” Sadly, there are more Majiks out there we never hear from, too.

  • Allen Robinson explained how his relationship with the Chicago Bears went south. Fast. (He came on a Go Long Happy Hour, too.)

  • Nobody had a clue just how close Saints receiver Deonte Harris was to quitting football this season. When his girlfriend had a miscarriage, one of his best friends died and he was arrested for a DUI himself, Harris even bought a plane ticket home. He never did get on that plane, however. Harris will be on the field Thanksgiving Night against the Bills.

  • Andy Janovich just may get you to crack open a Busch Light (or five) tonight.

  • I’m still not sure how Laviska Shenault recovered from seeing his Dad struck and killed by a truck as a kid. That trauma sent him into a “black hole.” Now, he’s playing wide receiver for the Jaguars.

  • Why is Efe Obada the “glitch in the matrix?” His harrowing journey could be a movie someday. The Bills defensive end was smuggled from Nigeria to Holland to London as a kid, abused by his caretakers, joined London gangs to feed he and his sister, picked up American football and has been fighting for his NFL life since. We took a look at his search for home.

  • When the madness in Green Bay reached its apex this offseason of discontent, we declared the Packers should let the Jordan Love Era begin. Aaron Rodgers shocked those close to him, returned and, who knows, we might be back in this same spot next spring.

  • This chat with Ryan Leaf, shortly after Vincent Jackson tragically died, ran the full gamut of emotions. I thought he put the plight of former players perfectly: “It’s such a juxtaposition of this huge emotion of getting hugged by the commissioner and when he retires, it’s ‘Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out, kiddo. Good luck.’” And if Q&A’s are your thing, we’ve also kicked back with the likes of Kurt Warner, Edgerrin James, Bruce Smith, LeRoy Butler, Drew Bledsoe, Ronde Barber, Darren Woodson and Rob Johnson over the year.

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