Announcement: Launching a new website and the closing of UKEndZone

By Oliver Connolly, Editor-In-Chief

I’m delighted to announce that on the 26th of January I will be launching a new pro football website, The Read-Optional.

I’ll try to keep this brief, but I wanted to write a quick note (more for myself) as the last post on this site.

***

I love UKEndZone, I love what we’ve done.

I thought we brought smart analysis, in our own British style, to an audience who wanted it.

We were that audience, we didn’t like the coverage in the UK nor the echo-chamber that can ensue online and overseas. 

I’ve often been confused by the modern style of constant hyperbole, click chasing and taking the sports we love too seriously. We tried to do it a little differently (in an admittedly small way). We stayed clear of cheap click stuff, tried to remain light-hearted and say why something happened rather regurgitate what happened.

For me this has been a great adventure, from a personal blog into a site, podcast network and a career. I’m happy with where we have gotten too but I also think we’ve hit a plateau and it’s time for us to blow this thing out and move to a bigger platform. More writers, more podcasts, more content, same style.

At our new home, thereadoptional.com, we’ll have the same vibe and feel, just on a larger, international stage. We’ll be bringing over some of the same cast; Andrew Symes will be coming across, myself and Tom will continue the MCFS and there’s no way I’m not aligning myself to Dutton for as long as I can steal his talents. But we’ll also be bringing a great number of new voices and ideas, predominantly from the US, but from all around the football loving world.

I want to thank everyone who has ever contributed to the site; our stable of writers, editors and our readers/listeners. You guys made this thing easy for me.

A special thank you to Josh Hunt, our first editor, who is now at the BBC. One of my great memories of this thing is staying up till all hours of the morning, watching tape on Marcus Mariota and criticising all manner of media members – that’s what you do when you’re at the bottom, you lob crap to the top – always best to do it on a Skype call.

Another special thank you to David Bossley who was the editor here for the longest spell. David is now somewhere in China I believe (though I don’t know because he was originally supposed to be in Canada). David, more than anyone, helped me improve as a writer and was a huge influence on my outlook on sports writing and is one of the main reasons why I even have a career and the opportunities I do.

Some of my favourite individual memories; 

The original UKEndZone Football Program; It was so much fun and the best hour of my week. We had slow news, knob news, I was self-righteous, Dutton breathed like a serial-killer down the phone and Tom was the circus master, effortlessly vacillating between hysterical and interesting. It was fun.

I loved the ‘Men Who Made The Game’ series that Symes and Dutton wrote; they weren’t puff pieces. They looked, almost in astonishment, at the achievements of Pro Football’s greats, yet didn’t leave out some of the sleaze.

My favourite individual podcast was yapping with Ralph Cindrich over a three-hour period, cutting it to an hour and a half, as the ex-player, agent and now author got loaded on cocktails (I joined him two hours in) and told me some of the greatest stories the game has seen.

Lastly, my hour-long phone calls with Tom Roper (some of them we released as podcasts) putting the footballing world to rights and unmercifully attacking Roger Goodell (he often deserved it).

All these guys became my mates, I’m thankful to them all.

***

Now that I got all of the mushy stuff out-of-the-way, I look forward to having you follow us across to The Read-Optional.

When we launch on Tuesday the 26th, we’ll have seven podcasts, a number of regular columns, up to date analysis on the biggest football stories and all of my Draft content for the 2016 draft.

If you’re already a subscriber to our podcasts they will all be updated and moved to the new site, with no interference to their schedule. If you’re not (or to check out the new shows) head over to thereadoptional.com/podcasts and get subscribing. All of our social media accounts and ways to interact will also automatically update so that you miss no fresh content.

Finally, at the new site we will be looking for a number of writers. Below are the roles we have available and the contact information, if you’re interested in joining us on our new venture.

Thank you,

Oliver Connolly, Editor-In-Chief, UKEndZone

***

Thank you for your interest in joining The Read-Optional. We are a new Pro Football site looking to do something unique and original across a variety of platforms; written, video and audio.

We are looking for a number of talented, original writers/podcasters with an in-depth knowledge of the NFL or an individual team.

Below is a look at what we can offer, what we are looking for and the roles we can offer.

Why The Read-Optional?

The goal of thereadoptional.com is to act as a minor league ball club who successfully brings new writers through and sends them onto the big leagues.

We want to help develop writers abilities and opinions rather than channel those opinions into elongated tweets and drive site traffic in order to monetize writers work. We relish the opportunity to bring in young journalists and columnists (in experience NOT age) and help them move on to some of the sports biggest and most well-known sports sites and brands.

We are all about creativity, hard work and freedom. We don’t put chains on writers, we let them explore and develop their own ideas and styles as well as work on unique and original ideas.

Rather than offer $1 per 1,000 views, while never hearing from the publishers or editors, we work full-time with our writers to bring a professional environment to new writers and create original, interesting content.

Combined with our audience we feel thereadoptional.com is the perfect spot to take that next step from your own personal blog, or that site where you feel under-appreciated or used to generate unoriginal, echo-chamber like content in order for the publisher to sell ads.

What we are looking for

Outside of the qualities stated for the individual positions. We’re looking for hardworking writers with an in-depth knowledge of the game. Those who don’t tell an audience what happened, but why it happened.

We’re not looking for those who simply enjoy the game and have an average knowledge level. We’re searching for those who have the ability to go on to the next level and we want to help those people get there.

Specific Roles; Featured Writer, Staff Writer, Columnist, Podcast Host, Team Writer, Editor

Featured Writer:

-Provide opinion and analysis pieces covering topics of interest around the NFL.

-Provide a minimum of two posts per week.

-Must demonstrate a strong understanding of the game and be able to provide original outlooks and opinions.

-Appear on The Read-Optional NFL Podcast.

-MUST have previous writing experience (including personal blogs).

Staff Writer:

-Provide news ‘takeaway’ pieces giving brief, second-level analysis, to the latest NFL news stories.

-Provide a minimum of two posts per week.

-Must demonstrate a strong understanding of the game and be able to provide original outlooks and opinions.

-MUST have previous writing experience (including personal blogs).

Podcast Host:

We currently have positions available for the following podcasts:

-The Read-Optional College Football Podcast

-The Fantasy Football Hour

We also accept applications from current podcasts to join The Read-Optional Podcast Network, as well as ideas for new podcasts.

Team Writer:

-Provide analytical and opinion pieces on a specific team e.g. analyzing the Jaguars defensive front snap counts.

-We do not accept news articles unless there is original analysis or opinions on the news item.

-Provide a minimum of two posts per week.

-No previous writing experience necessary.

Available Teams:

-Buffalo Bills

-Miami Dolphins

-New England Patriots

-New York Jets

-Baltimore Ravens

-Cincinnati Bengals

-Cleveland Browns

-Pittsburgh Steelers

-Houston Texans

-Indianapolis Colts

-Jacksonville Jaguars

-Tennessee Titans

-Denver Broncos

-San Diego Chargers

-Oakland Raiders

-Kansas City Chiefs

-Dallas Cowboys

-Washington Redskins

-Philadelphia Eagles

-New York Giants

-Green Bay Packers

-Minnesota Vikings

-Detroit Lions

-Chicago Bears

-Atlanta Falcons

-Carolina Panthers

-New Orleans Saints

-Tampa Bay Buccaneers

-Seattle Seahawks

-San Francisco 49ers

-Arizona Cardinals

-Los Angeles Rams

Columnist:

-Provide an original column once a week, either a syndicated or original column.

-MUST have previous writing experience (including personal blogs).

NFL Draft Writer:

-Work alongside Oliver Connolly in the draft department.

-Make consistent appearances on The Read-Optional NFL Podcast.

-MUST have some previous prospect analysis experience.

Editor:

-Must display excellent spelling/grammar and proofreading skills.

-Must be able to demonstrate an ability to refine pieces to include only relevant information while keeping original structure.

-Must be able to demonstrate judgement of when a piece is ready for publishing, in line with the standards set by The Read-Optional, and send back to the author when necessary.

-Must be able to commit to checking for new submissions on a daily basis and ensure all posts are attended to in a timely fashion, along with the rest of the editing team.

-Full control to publish feature and opinion pieces at will.

-MUST have previous writing experience (including personal blogs).

If you’re interested in any of the above positions please send a cover letter and two writing samples (may be original posts) to contact@thereadoptional.com

Again, thank you for your interest and I look forward to welcoming you aboard The Read-Optional.

Oliver Connolly, Editor-In-Chief, thereadoptional.com

About Oliver Connolly;

Oliver Connolly is the editor-in-chief of thereadoptional.com and formerly the editor-in-chief at UKEndZone. He’s a former recruiting advisor for Western Michigan University and a former writer/prospect analyst for two-time Super Bowl winning general manager Ted Sundquist. He is also a contributor to SI Draft research and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.

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