It's hard to say much more about Jeff Simpson. Richard Velotta at the Sun recapped his professional career. Hunter gave two personal tributes here, and no one could say what Chuck said in a more heart-felt way. Seeing Jeff's picture on the VT marquee makes me smile; seeing the sign dimmed reminds me that we're not going to be hearing him talk about casino parking garages--or the complex behind-the-scenes deals that make the business go--ever again.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to do a long interview with Bill Eadington, one of my mentors in the gaming studies field and the one guy without whom there might not be a gaming studies field as we know it. We talked for quite a while about his career and some of the personalities he's known, and as he reminisced about working with scholars like Ed Thorp, Peter Collins, Peter Griffin, and David Spanier (to mention just a few), he had a smile on his face that said, "I'm lucky to have gotten to shared my best years with these guys."
I feel very lucky that someday I'll be able to say the same about Jeff and many others. As I said on our last show together, without Jeff, Chuck, Hunter, and all of you who read and contribute, what I do would be pretty bleak and thankless. Whenever Jeff complimented my work, it meant a lot to me, because I know that he's not the kind to mince words or impress easily.
Those of us that knew Jeff on a personal level have our many reasons for missing him. But even if you didn't know him, you're a little worse off without him around.
Before a lot of others, Jeff sensed that the news business was changing. He joined the Vegas Gang back in 2008, when he was still at the Sun, and after he left the Sun he transitioned to freelance work and writing for this blog. And here he blazed a trail for me. I'd been blogging about gaming stuff since 2001 on my own, but for a variety of reasons decided I wanted to join forces with something bigger. So I asked Hunter about coming about joining the team here. That Jeff had already shown this was a great forum for quality writing made it an easy decision to make. And for too short a time we made, I hope, a passable tag team of casino commentators, with his relentless ground-based attack a great foil for my sometimes more technical and occasionally whimsical approach.
But, as Chuck mentioned in his tribute, Jeff found a real niche on Twitter. Having him dissect the day's gaming news, pointing out credit for the hard questions that had been asked and laying blame where they hadn't, was a treat. It was like sitting at the editor's desk watching the paper being put together. There once was a time when none of us in the wider public would have benefited from insights like that.
I hope that Jeff's unofficial Vegas gaming/business news ombudsman presence forced gaming writers to take another look at their work before filing it--I know that I did, because I knew that if I tried to take the easy way out, I'd have to answer for it.
That's the part of Jeff's work that I think we'll all miss the most: that, like any good editor, he made those around him better. Professionally, I don't think there's anything better you can hope for.