The sportswriter who ‘used to be somebody’

Jeff Bradley used to be somebody, he says. He was a sportswriter. He covered the Yankees for the Newark Star Ledger. He wrote for ESPN the Magazine. He’s had his work featured in Sports Illustrated

But when he was laid off, he became more like the rest of of the somebodies in America who can’t find work even as they’re told the economy is zipping right along and unemployment is low.

He works a seasonal job now shining shoes and doing odd jobs at a private golf club.

He’s not ashamed to tell the story of his fall from lofty heights, which he told in a blog post he wrote last week about losing his job.

So, I was relieved. I was also excited to look for work outside of sports writing. I got my foot in the door for an interview as editor of a college alumni magazine. Made it to the final round, but didn’t get the job. “In the end we went with a candidate whose past work experience more closely meets the job description.”

Some version of that reply became the all-too-frequent response to subsequent interviews. I was in the running for a job as director of communications for a senior living community. I got in the door to try to manage sports marketing/communications for a major investment firm.

I was a finalist for a communications position at a prep school. I went through four months of interviews for a position with a Major League Soccer team…and the same thing with one of golf’s major governing bodies.

Those last two rejections were especially painful because, for some god unknown reason – the guy doing the hiring told me the salary and benefits, and asked me if those conditions would be acceptable… ummm…hell yeah…only to give me bad news the next day.

Now, it’s been a year since I’ve been able to get past a phone interview with Human Resources. I haven’t met for a face to face interview with an actual human being in a year. I apply for a job a day on-line, which has only led to ridiculous amounts of viral spam in my mailbox every day.

He sold cars for awhile but quit because the business is too “shady.”

There’s a bright side, he says. He gets to spend a little more time with his family.

And some of his friends try to keep his spirits up by reminding him that he’s “a good man.”

And here’s where the tragedy of unemployment in America is on full display. Because Bradley writes that because he hasn’t had a job interview in more than a year, he wonders whether he really is still “a good man.”

In the comments section, other journalists shared similar stories. A USA Today reporter drives for Uber now. Another writes that “50 is the new 66.”

“Every month, there are bills to be paid,” Bradley tells Poynter about his $15 per hour job as the clubhouse guy. “I’m not bringing in enough freelancing. As stupid as it sounds, I knew I was getting a check every week.”

And now the golf course is closed for the season.

He expects to be back next summer too.

Related: Minnesota jobless rate slips to 3.7 percent in October; 1,700 jobs lost (MPR News)