A Tribute to Chris Harris – Founder of Big Cat Country
By Terry OBrien
There was an announcement today that Chris Harris will no longer be leading Big Cat Country. I know the situation Chris is in and I understand. Things come and things go. People come and people go, it is the way of life.
It wouldn’t be right not to mark the moment with an understanding exactly what Chris did and how great his achievement Big Cat Country is. Chris Harris is a dynamic and wonderful writer. He is also a person you want to meet and spend some time with. I got that privledge and feel very good I did.
Back in 2005, blogging was nothing. Few people knew what it was. Chris started Big Cat Country in the days when no one paid any attention. His first post “Hello” announced a new era in NFL fan communication and a sense of community among us Jaguar fans. No one read Big Cat Country back then, except for a couple of Colt fans. He frequently posted articles few read. He had no comments for weeks and weeks and weeks. He persisted, writing wonderful articles to no one.
Slowly the computer literate generation caught on and a small following formed. Collin Streetman, a wonderful writer in his own right, joined. Then Jonathan, a tireless worker, joined. I joined soon after in 2007. Chris’s following and BCC grew.
2009 was the greatest year of Big Cat Country when they recorded their 1,000,000 visitor. One million people found their way to BCC. Back in 2007 we speculated that members of the Jaguar office staff joined in the discussion. The comments were too real and too close to the mark for it not to be true. Vic Ketchem referenced Chris in an article and the readership spiked. It was exciting and dynamic, but more than that, Chris made it hip and cool and the most intelligent site around.
When Jonathan speculated that Jack Del Rio was headed to Southern Cal, the news media picked up on it. People were reading BCC to see what Jack’s status was. Jonathan met Wayne Weaver at a zoo dedication for a baby jaguar and Wayne knew all of us by name. Sam Kovaris stated “some guy in his mothers basement speculates Jack is leaving and we all have to react?”. Chris called him and explained the blog world had advanced far beyond his impression. It had.
Soon after that Jack Del Rio gave an unheard of interview to Chris. Jack didn’t speak to any other media outlet at that time and Chris scored a huge coup. The blog world had edged out mainstream media for the first time. That was a stunning achievement.
When I told Chris I would take over Black and Teal he called. He offered all his support and advice. He was happy to see the blog world expand. I learned what excellent blogging was from Chris. I learned what good writing looked like from Chris. As I said before, he is an outstanding talented person.
I don’t know the future of Big Cat Country without him. The Internet world is a place that can deteriorate into a cesspool of uncensored opinions. Chris never let it go there. I appreciated that. To me, a good blog informs, entertains and provides an uplifting experience where people can join in.
I dedicate Black and Teal to Chris Harris and the path he paved. We probably will never reach his success. We will, however, honor his direction. Black and Teal will remain above it all and simply enjoy the NFL experience in Jacksonville. People like Chris Harris deserve that. Good luck Chris. Stop by and say hello now and then!
– Terry O’Brien