Rick Reilly's Mail bag: Can't Win 'Em All

I don't mind admitting when I'm wrong. I said $160 for Google when it first launched was a rip-off. Wrong. I thought "Occupy Wall Street" was a condo development. Wrong. This fall alone, I was wrong when ...

*I said Cincinnati would go 0-16. I was wrong. Gunned down by Andy (The Red Rifle) Dalton.

*I said Arkansas would win the national championship. I was wrong. At 6-1, though, they could still win the SEC.

*I said I'd never be on Twitter. I was wrong. Follow me @ReillyRick and I promise to try and tweet pictures of me with all the porn stars Rob Gronkowski missed.

Here's even more ways you said I've been wrong lately:


To bring out the guy's faults and shortcomings (no matter how long that list is) after he has passed away is crossing the line. While nothing you pointed out is untrue, it didn't need to be spelled out for the world to read about so shortly after his death.

--Tyler Reese (Pittsburgh)

You're a sentimental idiot. Everything you say sounds like the opinion of a mildly educated suburban housewife on mood stabilizers. Al Davis ruled with the cold, dispassionate efficiency of a dictator, which is exactly what an NFL owner should emulate.

--Andrew Brent (East Lansing)

Hey, I resent that. My mood stabilizers are never mild.

On the other hand ...

Finally an article which tells the rest of the story about someone who did some great things for football but in either the wrong way or for the wrong reason.

--Ed Stevens (Cypress, CA)

I have to applaud you for your Al Davis column. We are far too willing to over-memorialize those who have died, to the point where you start to wonder whether or not it's the same person you remembered ... I don't know a single Raiders fan that wasn't counting down the days until he gave up his control of the Raiders or died ... He regularly treated people like garbage.

--DG (Washington, DC)

I'm not a heartless person. I understand it can be a sad time when someone you know has passed away. But what good does it do to lie about the guy? For the last two decades, Al was described as a cold, arrogant, ass of a man. Then he passes away and becomes God's gift to football. I had been wondering when someone on the national stage would have the stones.

--Terrence Grom (Chicago IL)

I'm happy you had the guts to ignore the normal post mortem political correctness in order to deliver the truth in a more timely and deserved fashion... Just a wild guess... You won't be covering Raiders home games anytime soon will you???!!!

--Tim Dillard (Houston TX)

Just the opposite. What they do now, freed from hysterical and tyrannical rule, will be far more interesting.

To paraphrase Howard Cosell, "you are either a whore for the NFL or a pariah." You may be on your way to being a pariah, but the world needs some pariahs. There are a lot of whores out there. . .

--Kurt Jacobus

I know. I follow Gronkowski's Twitter feed.

And one comedian:

At least I have a legacy. You are just the guy who people didn't like when you wrote in SI and don't like you now.

--Al Davis (Hell)


You do realize that you are insulting probably 90% of the people that log onto espn.com right? Most of those people probably wear jerseys to the games.


Imagine if Jack LaLanne felt that way when he started calling Americans fat and out of shape in the 1930s. We'd all be -- wait. Never mind.

You're delusional. Wearing your favorite player's jersey is fun and a way to show your support for that player. You cannot put an age on being a fan. You need to lighten up.

--Cindy (Amelia Ohio)

I can't put an age on being a fan, but I can put an age on when a fan can put on a jersey and 30 is where it stops.

I am sick of all these so-called "man rules" about what and what not to wear or do past a certain age. I am a GROWN ASS MAN! (yeah, that's me yelling). I work in a legitimate, high-powered profession, which I busted my ass in high school, college and grad school to get, without a damned dime from my parents or relatives. So I can wear any clothing, which I paid for, whenever and wherever I damn well please. And I dare anyone to make me take it off. Go ahead. Try it!

--Jaymee Stahrr (El Paso, TX)

You should wear a Mike Gundy jersey. :

On the other hand

By the same token, grown men should never bring a baseball glove to the ballpark. Same concept, even less cool. No woman in her right mind wants to hang out with a guy if his baseball mitt is going to be the third wheel.

--Phil (Haddonfield, NJ)

"I'm not going if you're going to bring Wilson!"

And one comedian:

I was at MNF night before last and I had no idea Dallas had 24,536 players on their roster! Gee whiz there were Cowboys everywhere. I think I was sitting next to Jason Witten and behind me Dez kept spilling his popcorn on me.

--Lee (San Antonio)


Stop being such a grouchy old man! Why don't you have faith in Tebow and your Denver Broncos?!

--Lee (San Antonio)

Playing four good minutes against a Miami Dolphins team that couldn't beat the Nashville Barber College does not an NFL QB make.

"There haven't been this many dedicated losers in one place since Comic Con."

That was a nice unprovoked shot at an entire subculture of people who are, in some cases, also big fans of sports. How many comic book conventions have you actually been to, Mister Reilly? How many comic book fans do you know? Are you speaking from experience or are you just going for a cheap, easy joke? Please explain to me how someone who goes to a Pats game wearing a Wes Welker jersey and red & white face paint is less of a "loser" than someone who goes to a comic book convention.

--Brendan Johnston (Brooklyn, NY)

OK, you got me. Jersey-wearing thirtysomethings ARE losers just as much as you are. And, yes, I'm coming to Comic Con this year. I'll be in the Scott Pilgrim costume.

And one extra way I was wrong, no charge:

"Donovan McNabb is the Queen of Hearts of the NFL. He's worth minus-13 points to any team that starts him." Surely you meant the Queen of Spades, Mr. Reilly. One reckons it's been a while since you played an exciting game of Hearts.

--Daniel Muller (Waltham, MA)

No wonder I can never shoot the moon.


Tebow will be the starter by game 7 of the season.

-- Bryan Quinn (Carrollton, GA)

Bryan Quinn, you're not helping your cause. Tebow was the starter in week 7, but it was GAME 6. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Problem with (Kyle) Orton is, he's a known quantity, and the quantity isn't very much. Tebow may well go on to accomplish more in the League than Orton ever will.

--Wade (Rebuck Pa)

Might already have.

On the other hand ...

Never missed a Tebow College game. Even saw him in high school. But you speak the cold, hard truth. I do so hope he masters the drop-back. His joy for the game, his energy and those wild, crazy plays that turn into something is fantastic entertainment. And after all, what is football to me, Joe Fan, but entertainment. Good Luck Tim.

--Richard (Douglas, Ga)


Making Nyjer Morgan out to be some sort of likable anti-hero is absurd. The guy is a joke. Grade A moron.

--Joseph Stiger (Pittsburgh/PA)

I disagree. Morgan fills up a sportswriter's notebook faster than any MLB player. I honestly believe I could just leave my notebook on his locker chair and he'd write funny things in there. Love that guy.

Just curious to know how someone (Brewers' Ryan Braun) can be half Jewish?

--Dan Quinn (Green, Ohio)

Because being Jewish isn't just a religion -- it's also cultural and ancestral. By the way, my list of the best active Jewish players -- half, three-quarters or 2 percent:

1. Ryan Braun, Brewers, The Hebrew Hammer

2. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox. Did he drink Mogen David in the clubhouse?

3. Ian Kinsler, starring in this World Series for the Texas Rangers


(Note: These were written before Bengals owner Brown finally gave in and ripped off the Raiders for possibly a first round pick and a second round pick in exchange for Palmer last week.)

Wrong. Just because Mike Brown is an incompetent owner does not mean that he should feel compelled to grant the trade request of a player under contract.

--Robert (Lancaster, SC)

Why are you giving Palmer a pass? You kill other players for asking to be traded.

--Brooks (Huntsville, AL)

Carson Palmer quit long before he retired.

--John Mcgraw (Portsmouth Ohio)

On the other hand ...

Honestly, Mike Brown is a genius. He got the county to build him a stadium, he gets profit shares from all of the events held there, the county is now going to pay for improvements and repairs, the fans in this fair city can do nothing except avoid the Bengals and that really has no consequence because someone will almost always buy a cheap ticket to a game they can't see on television and he still gets money from the Jones and Snyder ilk when the NFL passes its profit sharing money around. Is he a heel? Sure. Do fans here hate Mikey Boy with every fiber of their being? Sure. Does he make tons of money and do almost nothing for it? Definitely.

--Jason Hoffman (Cincinnati, OH)

I have an idea: Let's start a rule in the NFL where OWNERS can be fired! That's right. Who takes the fall at the end of a losing season in just about any NFL franchise? The head coach, the GM, just about anyone EXCEPT the owner. GMs and coaches can be fired, players can be released. Why not have an annual "cut" each off season where owners who have continued to mismanage their franchises, as determined by a set of pre-established rules, W-L record, personnel matters, return on investment (ROI/ROE), etc. are escorted to the exit door. If his report card is bad enough, he is FORCED to sell the franchise.

--Greg Florko Cincinnati, OH (with a bag over my head).

And one comedian:

Personally, I think Mike Brown was adopted!!

--John Burgess (Cherokee NC)


Well, Rick, are you happy now? They finally stopped the freaking race. In the wake of the Vegas race, cancelled by Dan Wheldon's death, a friend reminded me of your column on Ken Fox, killed at Michigan in '98. Continuing the race isn't about fan enjoyment or getting what you paid for. It's about a group of people ... who are drawn to a dangerous sport and know the risks ahead of time. They didn't stop the Olympics when the bobsledder was killed, or when downhill racers have died. They don't stop flying airplanes when one goes down. We move on in this country; wipe our eyes and move on. Ask A.J. Foyt what it felt like to climb back in that roadster in '64 after two of his friends were incinerated at Indianapolis. You finally got your wish; they stopped the freaking race. Is Dan Wheldon better off for that?

--Gary Ellis

No, but his family is. And no, they didn't stop the Olympics when the luger (not bobsledder) died, but they did stop the luge for the day. And yes, they do stop ski races when somebody dies. Remind me, when did you start chugging raw blood for breakfast?


Your column about DWill playing in Turkey is absolutely absurd. Do you really think he's going to shack up in an apartment the team provides when he's a multi-millionaire? Do you really think he'll actually be practicing with the team or just showing up at game time? Do you believe he won't have six personal bodyguards who look like they should be playing offensive line in the NFL with him at all times?

P.S. What do you have against hummus and olives for any meal?

--Matt (Boise,ID)

*To suggest that players who "are not pleasing the team's ownership" ... have their hot water, electricity and internet cut off is staggeringly ridiculous as well as totally untrue. Basketball is a large and professional sport in Turkey and the behavior of our clubs, management and players reflect this ...

*We were highly surprised by claims that Turkish women are habitually dressed in burkas and that our streets are awash with people at prayer ... Turkey is a secular country in which religion and state are clearly separated. ...

*The Muslim practice which calls for the sacrifice of a male sheep or cow certainly exists as one of the fundamental traditions of our faith ... we appreciate that this may be out of kilter with traditions of other cultures.

Should you be visiting our country in the future, pleas let us know as we would love the chance to show you the real Turkey as well as our passion for Basketball.

-- Dr. Emir Turem

Dir. of International Relations

Turkish Basketball Federation

Finally, here's one time when I was right, and I have the court order to prove it:

Comments: Almost 4 years ago [in Sports Illustrated], you wrote a story about Carlos Barragan's neighborhood boxing gym and how National City, CA, wanted to use eminent domain to seize their property in order to build condos. Not sure if you are aware but Carlos won. Pretty much a shutout. Just wonder what the city will do with the buildings they did buy. Maybe sell and help Carlos pay the wonderful attorneys that worked pro bono.

--Steve Cohen