Dear Paul Finebaum:
We don’t love you anymore.
Okay, just to be clear we never really loved you in the first place. But we tolerated you. We took your jibes. We laughed when you drove a tractor to Auburn. We snickered along with your relentless campaigns against Mike DuBose, Mike Price and Mike Shula.
We accepted and understood that you were a shameless self-promoter and we knew you’d do just about anything that didn’t involve juggling live kittens or full frontal nudity (thank God) to increase your presence. No, we didn’t like it when you turned your considerable venom Auburn’s way, but we accepted it because we truly believed you were an equal opportunity offender.
Over the last four years, that has changed dramatically. In the last six months, it’s reached critical mass.
Maybe it’s the fact that you switched to WJOX where the steady drumbeat is all Alabama all the time. From Jay Barker to Jim Dunaway to former anchors Scott Griffin and Matt Coulter there has always been a persistent Bama backbeat to WJOX all day every day.
Maybe it’s your unabashed love for Nick Saban. We don’t understand why you fell head over heels, and don’t care why you worship the man, but you fawn over him like a 15-year old girl over Justin Beiber. It isn’t a pretty sight.
Even all of that could have been tolerated in the spirit of continued friendship and mutual respect. But you took it too far in March when you exposed your true self at a conference at Birmingham Southern.
We’ll put it in junior high terms to make it simple. We were friends. Yes, the friendship was occasionally strained but we had a decent relationship nonetheless. When you didn’t think we were around, we overheard you telling someone else exactly what you thought of us. And it was ugly. The things you said were demeaning and derogatory. They can’t be taken back. They can’t be explained away.
You did your best. You faked outrage. You pretended you meant something entirely different. But we knew. We knew that in that hateful screed at Birmingham-Southern you exposed the true face of Finebaum. In that moment you were not the tightrope walking fence sitter, you weren’t the equal opportunity hatchet man. You spoke what was in your heart.
We’re done. Whatever tenuous friendship we had was obliterated in that moment of clarity.
Since March we’ve watched you slowly embrace your true nature.
When Harvey Updyke poisoned our beloved trees, you granted him a forum to plead for absolution. He wasn’t smart enough to take advantage of it and implicated himself further, but you offered him that platform.
Your show was the first to pound the “they’re just trees, get over it” drum even when the national media still recoiled from the vile depravity of the act.
You were quick to call on Brooks Melchior and Clay Travis, booking them on your show and treating them as expert journalists when they were raking muck regarding Auburn and Cam Newton.
As soon as the two began to probe the T-Town Menswear story your position changed. Suddenly they were hack bloggers with no credibility whatsoever. It was an amazing turnaround on your part.
You allowed your callers to brand Auburn students as prostitutes in light of reports you knew were erroneous. Not only did you allow it, but you giggled and snickered along spurring the abuse to new lows.
That you would now piously rage over message board comments regarding your regular caller Shane and his battle with cancer drips with irony.
The Auburn students did nothing to deserve the criticism and defamation hurled at them by you and your callers. They were vilified and you were a willing participant.
Shane, by his own admission, regularly defiled and degraded Auburn players, coaches, administration and fans. His vile accusations toward Auburn and its people were slanderous. You fervently defend him.
He wanted to be hated and reveled in the hate he brewed. Why the sanctimonious posturing when years of cultivating hate comes home to roost?
Where was your outrage when innocent Auburn students had their reputations besmirched?
Are you truly surprised that a few people who were subjected to Shane’s daily assault for years on end are now ambivalent at best about his fate? Is it truly your contention that you can take the random comments of a small minority, cherry pick the worst of the worst and paint the entire fanbase with the same broad brush?
If that’s your stance there are a few non-Auburn websites we’d be happy to show you where obscene and obsessive hatred is the primary currency. That broad brush of yours paints in many colors.
Finally, Paul, we come to the Danny Sheridan debacle. From his comments and yours it’s become readily apparent that you orchestrated that entire drama in a sad ploy for ratings leverage at a time you were engaged in a contract battle. You defamed Auburn and the family of one of the greatest players to ever wear the orange and blue for your own personal benefit.
Were we supposed to just smile and accept all of that? Did you expect us to roll over and take shot after shot from you?
You’ve gotten great mileage out of this week’s “poor me” moaning over (unconfirmed) reports that a few Auburn fans have requested that you be denied access to Auburn events.
In light of everything that’s transpired since March, are you honestly shocked that there might be a growing segment of the Auburn fanbase which would prefer that you not be allowed on the campus?
The depressing part of all this is that until your March unveiling we really were pretty much okay with you. We had our disagreements, but who doesn’t? We knew that you are capable of being better than you are and we assumed that your pendulum would eventually swing back.
You took it too far. You crossed lines that should never have been crossed. Your March rant at Birmingham-Southern made it personal. Your continued attacks opened a chasm that only time can heal.
Tomorrow you’ll dismiss us as the fringe lunatics. That’s okay, we find that characterization amusing.
There’s irony there, Paul. Listen to your show objectively and ask yourself where the fringe truly lies? Is it your pet caller Tammy or the Never to Yield Foundation?
You compound the irony when you attempt to legitimize an exercise in obsessive blog lunacy like The Capstone Report while simultaneously ranting about the fringe elements of the fanbase. Even you must see the duplicity in promoting a fringe blog with one hand while you strike out at legitimate outlets with the other.
Where is the fringe, Paul? You don’t find it in the people who ask that you be denied access to the Auburn sidelines and you don’t find it here.
The fringe can be heard loud and clear every day on WJOX (at least for now) beginning at 2 p.m. You and your callers represent the fringe. You and your crew epitomize it. You glorify it.
No, we don’t love you anymore. But that’s okay because we never really did.
It might eventually be okay to go back to being friends, but your attacks since March have irritated us to the point that some of us just don’t want you around right now.
Perhaps over time that will change, but you’ll have to demonstrate a willingness to change as well. You’ve always been good at that, at knowing when to pull back on the throttle. Over the last six months, you’ve lost your compass.
You can do whatever you want with this knowledge. You can keep on agitating until you drive a permanent wedge between you and the sane, rational and logical majority of fans — and you’re closer to that edge than you realize — or you can search your soul and decide to be something better than you are.
We know you’ll never like us like that. We know your heart.
Truth be told, we really don’t want your affection. Simple respect would do. We hope you are capable.
And just so you know? For all your posturing and grandstanding, for all the furious faux anger you’ve unleashed over a few Auburn fans justifiably wishing you’d just stay away, Auburn won’t turn its back on you.
You’ve always been welcome here and we don’t expect that will change.
Come back any time.
War Eagle, Paul.
Never to Yield