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Dater column: Thank you

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Five and one-half years ago, this was the kind of thing I promised myself I would give just one chance at writing, a happy ending to the story of Adrian Dater. And, things weren’t looking too promising.

In December of 2014, nearly 25 calendar years working at the Denver Post, I was just coming off a two-week suspension for using foul language on Twitter, when I got in even more trouble on Twitter. Then, I was gone, told to turn in my building badge and ID and escorted out of the building. I broke down in the lobby of the building. I sobbed like a baby. I needed to be driven home by someone else, it was determined. I was unsafe to myself, it was believed. A long-time co-worker, Allen Daniel, drove me home in my own car. I could just stare out the window, thinking, “I can’t believe this. Please don’t let this be real. Please, please let me wake up from this bad dream.” I had to go home and tell my wife what had happened, some of which had been previously deceptive to her. I really didn’t think I’d make it a few more days, at tops. No way was I going to be able to overcome this kind of blow to my personal and professional reputation. I had always known I was a flawed, yet overall decent person. Smart, yet dumb sometimes, you know?

Now, I thought I would be judged a creep forever, no matter how much I knew I wasn’t. Or, just a loser who shot his mouth off one too many times. At heart, I was a nice guy, but with a few problems. I drank too much. Most of my writing heroes all had serious drinking issues. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Thompson, Burrows, Kesey, Kerouac, Hitchens – they were all shitfaced half the time. I grew up in the business thinking “you’ve got to work hard, AND play hard. Drinking is part of the job, you’re not a real writer if you dont’!” I did just fine living like that for about the first 15 years on the job. Then, suddenly, I couldn’t sleep. I’d go two and three full nights without any sleep. I was in physical pain a lot, with major back issues. I drank more to combat both issues, believing it was the John Wayne way to decide such things. I tended toward rash impulses at times, especially when I was drinking. I thought it was all fanciful and fun – and for a long time, it was. Until it wasn’t.

On Dec. 5, 2014, I was one day removed from almost a quarter-century working at a great newspaper, for publicly unacceptable behavior. I didn’t think I’d make it much longer. I went from staying in the fanciest of hotels in December of 2014 to shoveling snow as a substitute gym teacher in February of 2015. I remember standing in that parking lot thinking “how did this happen?”

I struggled along teaching public school somehow, but I was tormented all day and all night by what had happened. I was standing in the middle of a room teaching 2nd graders how to use a noun in a proper sentence, all. the while thinking, “What are you doing here, what are you doing here?”

But I’m here to tell you that I overcame it and feel better in every conceivable way about myself and my life since. I got some help. I started to learn that I had some deep-seated anxiety that was sabotaging almost everything I did, no matter how successful I thought I was. I learned there was the old, nicer and friendlier person in there, after about 40 years of suppression. The smile I got on the face of a 2nd-grade Latino girl on that first day, after teaching her how to properly shoot a basketball in that gym glass, started me on a better path.

I will tell more of this story, how I got here, in coming “chapters.” It gets pretty interesting, I think. Including: time in a halfway house, talking all day with the dad of a famous Avs player, right in my living room, about zen philosophy and Scientology, and the time I think I stayed in a meth house in Florida in an airbnb rental.

I will have a ton of people to thank for helping me get here, too. Without them, there are no words to you here tonight.

To you all here, I have you to thank for helping support me and this site. I got the courage, a year ago, to go it on my own finally. No boss looking over every word I said anymore, ready to use it against me in a vulnerable moment.

Just me and the reader. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. Just me and the reader. I’ve always related much better to the readers than the bosses over me, trying to tell me how to relate to the “public.”

You are my public, and you know the real me by now, a year into reading this site. Thank you for making this all possible. Here’s to the next, even better, year. Well, whenever they drop the puck again.

Subscribe to CHN+ today!

Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies. Previously Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report to name just a few.

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Chris / SoCalAvsFan

Can’t wait to read more .. as always Dater you are a reminder that no matter how bad these can sometimes feel – if you put your head down and just keep going eventually you can get where you need to be. Have always appreciated your professional writing but also your personal friendship. Here’s to another year for CHN!

Jenson

Thanks for sharing your personal story. I think each of us has had many ups and downs in life but with you, it is impressive how you came back. I have always appreciated your work and honesty and I am happy to support your work because your articles are easy to read and I feel well informed in Germany. Keep up the good work.

Even more important is that you stay safe in these difficult times.

Greetings from Hanover / Germany 🇩🇪

Brian

I have always believed that with hard work a person can overcome any obstacle and you are a prime example, thanks for sharing your story and looking forward to more insights.

Clint

Thanks for your writing Dater knew you had a bit of a stumble but didn’t know details till now, I feel for ya man, love your writing will always be a fan

David Charpentier

AD, thanks. I have enjoyed your writing for a long time and enjoy it even more here. You connect with US.

Jason

Happy for you Adrian! I’ve been an Avalanche fan since 1995 and not even a re-location in a pre-internet time period to Central PA has changed my fandom. I longed to read your articles no matter the platform, I subscribed last year around this time and I’m definitely re-upping again. Happy for your turnaround! We’re all anxious for Avs hockey to return and I’m looking forward to the content you’ll continue to produce! Thanks for all you’ve done for the Avs fans all around!

Eric Rodrigue

Adrian, you are a fantastic writer. I’ve been reading you for a very long time now. I still have your book, hand signed by you. Always a joy to read your articles on the Avalanche or on your personal views on different topics. Keep it up my friend.
Best luck to you
Eric

jsonpinto19

Happy for you Adrian! I’ve been an Avalanche fan since 1995 and not even a re-location in a pre-internet time period to Central PA has changed my fandom. I longed to read your articles no matter the platform, I subscribed last year around this time and I’m definitely re-upping again. Happy for your turnaround! We’re all anxious for Avs hockey to return and I’m looking forward to the content you’ll continue to produce! Thanks for all you’ve done for the Avs fans all around!

bhgodlygovt

Well said, Dater. I’m glad you now feel comfortable enough to tell us your story, that isn’t easy. I am a huge proponent of second chances, and don’t think you should just write someone off, threaten violence against them, or petition to have them fired just because they made a mistake, said the wrong thing, or acted out. I remember when you were fired from the Post, and I was so glad when you came back, first at BSN/DNVR, and now finally having your own website. You have a great story of fighting back and not letting your problems destroy… Read more »

Brandon Eccles

Hey AD:

I just want to congratulate you on a continued job well done! You are one of the very best doing it, in my humble opinion.

I made the realization while listening to the Mile High Memories the other day and reading this article; that I have been following you for over 20 years, what a trip that is! Here’s to 20 more man!

Tim

Adrian,
It shows true courage to write about your personal struggle. Thank you for sharing and giving hope to others who have or are currently struggling. Thank you also for keeping us all informed when it comes to our beloved Avs!

GWood

Adrian, so glad you were able to overcome this challenging chapter, you have much more to give, pal. Side note: I freaking hate Facebook and social media in general at this point. It used to be kinda cool, a way to see pics and what not, but its devolved into a cesspool of cowards and pure ignorance for the most part. Mix in alcohol and watch it go boom. I would have rather not known that some of the peeps I know were not this hateful, ignorant, utterly annoying and possess dangerously low IQ’s. God help us all. On a… Read more »

John Mauss

Adrian, I’ve been a big fan of yours since you started covering the Avs for the Post. (I was a big fan of the Post in those days, too.) You are doing great–wish I could say the same for the Post. As an old guy, I have been slow to transition from print to net, but I was overjoyed to find you here. Thanks for your great coverage of the Avs and for having the strength to share your story with us, your readers. Your coverage enhances our Avs experience. I believe it will help some of us and enhance… Read more »

Rich

Dater – I have alway been fan continue to keep up the great work!

idavsfan

AD – A lot of us know it’s been a hard road for you and it takes a lot of courage to share your story – I hope I can speak for everyone who’s a member of this site that we, your reading audience greatly appreciate your dedication, and perspective on the Avs and hockey in general. Those few years without being able to read your thoughts and comments on the games and the team sucked for all of us, and we’re all glad your back.
Stay healthy, both physically and between the ears – you’re one of the best!

Jeremy C

I’m relatively new to being an Avs fan and relatively new to taking hockey fandom seriously. Next to my daughter starting to play at 6, you are probably the 2nd biggest reason for that. When she got into the game, it reignited my long forgotten passion for the game (in the late 80s and early 90s I was a fan, but my parents couldn’t afford for me to play and outside being known for 99’s first few professional games, Indiana isn’t the best place for a hockey fan to hail from). I watched a YouTube clip from SB Nation on… Read more »

Bryan

we love you Dater. we’re proud of you. please write for us forever.

jovaniss

We did not follow the Post. We followed you.

Jo from NJ

Melissa

Bravo Adrian.
From a friend of Pittsburgh Hockey Now.

Charlie Anderson

AD you have been partially responsible for some of the best times of my life, thank you. I love your writing and opinions even when I don’t agree with you. Keep up the good work brother.

The PG

Americans love a good comeback story and you sir, whether you realize it or not, are definitely one of those!

Congratulations on your journey and I wish you continued success as you walk your path.

Vikki Migoya

We are with you Adrian! Please keep on the path you set

dp10

Nothing against the highly informed hockey wonks with their advanced stats at your previous gig, but ultimately, I come to hockey and to sport in general because of what you can glean from it about life at large. I think that is why your style resonates with many readers, certainly myself. About the struggle with your own demons. Undoubtedly we live in unsettling times, the upheaval cause by the pandemic, the issues brought to the front in relationship to BLM. But what gets lost in those moments, when we largely pointing fingers at others (the system, the rich, “white people”)… Read more »

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