Readers say the posts after my columns indicate I have an approval rating of about 3 percent.
And friends sometimes say, "Why do they write such horrible things about you?"
In both cases, I'm quick to defend my critics. After all, we're basically doing the same thing — expressing our opinion in a public forum — with several exceptions: Posters cherish their anonymity, write for free and sometimes work from their mother's basement.
But for the benefit of my readers who would like to see more positive feedback from my literary efforts, I've selected a few messages emailed directly to me that perhaps better reflect the relationship between readers and this column.
Anyone else who is weary of all the negative posts might find these good-natured exchanges refreshing. Please note some of the messages had to be shortened.
Lynn: We can always depend on you for positive comments on UT sports. Your cup is always half full. I long for the days of (former Knoxville columnist) Tom Siler.
Me: Thanks. So many columnists are cynical. But I try to look on the positive side of sports. Maybe that's old-fashioned, but that's just me.
Shep: You are a dirt bag. Grow up and become a man and stop beating up on Pat (Summitt).
Me: Beating up on Pat? I think you've got the wrong columnist.
Rich: You've written some really crappy columns in the past (but) the past few take the case. Didn't know your (sic) an editorial writer? Think your (sic) out of line calling for Dooley and his staff to be fired.
Me: You can't be for real. I'm a sports columnist. Every newspaper has one. Columnists are paid to write their opinion.
Shelby: I truly hope you realize how you are viewed by the Volnation. Your years of negative view points and predictable columns have run it's course. You no longer have any credibility among the Vol faithful. Congratulations.
Me: That's devastating news. Just wondering, how do you become a spokesperson for the Big Orange Nation? Is that an elected position?
Mark: Pulling for the opposing team. That's pathetic and should have the luxury of being dignified by your article or any others. (He signed it "Vol fan for life.").
Me: I'm pulling for you to write a coherent sentence. Reread your second sentence. It makes absolutely no sense.
Jay: Tennessee beat writers hate Tennessee fans with a monstrous passion. There is no other reason to ever mention Lane Kiffin.
Figure it out you moron. Tennessee fans loathe Lane Kiffin. If you don't want to get emails like this, quit bringing up hypotheticals that are completely useless and unnecessary involving that scum of the earth that coaches USC.
Me: That's one of the most pathetic emails I've ever read. You obviously were in love with Lane when he was here, then were devastated when he left for a better job and a huge pay hike.
Sadder still: If UT rehired Kiffin, you probably would fall right back in love with him. Time to move on, Jay.
Wayne: John, get away from there. Seeing that much bad football will affect how well your soul rests.
Your soul will be flying around on a broomstick looking for road kill.
Me: Thanks for your concern, but I've covered worse teams than this one.