Chat with Rick Reilly
In addition to being featured on the back page of ESPN The Magazine, Reilly will write columns for ESPN.com, provide essays for SportsCenter, and contribute to the network's coverage of major golf events, including the Masters, British Open, Ryder Cup and US Open.
Reilly began his career in 1979 at his hometown Boulder (Colo.) Daily Camera while a sophomore at the University of Colorado, from which he graduated in 1981. He wrote for two years at the Camera, two at the Denver Post and two at the Los Angeles Times, before moving to Sports Illustrated.
A famed author, Reilly's most recent book, released in May, Hate Mail from Cheerleaders, was a New York Times bestseller as was The Life of Reilly: The Best of Sports Illustrated's Rick Reilly.
Send your questions now and join Reilly in chat on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
More: Reilly on the Herd
Buzzmaster (12:56 PM)
Rick Reilly will make his chat debut shortly!
Tom (Carroll, Iowa)
Mr. Reilly, you have written one of the most touching columns I have ever read. Thank you! I deal with alcoholism in my family and I have a hard time dealing with my anger towards it. How did you keep yourself from totally going crazy? It is so nice to hear that there can actually be a happy ending, even if it does come late in life.
Rick Reilly (1:04 PM)
Thanks very kindly. That was a secret that i've held my whole life, so it was emotional to put it out there. Now it feels like a relief. And I'm getting all kinds of emails already from people who have decided it's time to fix their own alcoholic families. so maybe it will do so some good. Good luck with yours.
JJ (Liberty Twp, OH)
Since you and Dan Patrick basically traded jobs, will you be swapping wives, a la Peterson and Kekich?
Rick Reilly (1:06 PM)
Yes, but since I don't have a wife, I'm throwing in my 2005 Ford Explorer and my Subway frequent customer card.
Tyler (Dallas, TX)
Even if he is coming off of knee surgery, does Tiger Woods still have a shot to win the US Open next weekend?
Rick Reilly (1:08 PM)
I stopped counting Tiger out about 8 years ago. I hear he's been playing 27 a day some days. Phil always plays great at Torre Pines and reeled him in once there, so it could get spicy. Tiger's knee, though, is becoming a real issue. You can't keep chopping on something time after time and not have some long-term effect. Still, I'm picking Tiger, layoff and all.
Martin Bell (NYC)
There's no way to put this gently, so I'll be blunt: Are you and Bill Simmons going to get along?
Rick Reilly (1:11 PM)
We're already getting along. The guy is routinely hilarious. I see him around L.A. and New York now and again. Always friendly. He actually met my girlfriend before he met me and they hit it off. He's new school, I'm old school, but we still want the same thing: entertaining, compelling columns. And you combine that with one of the purest writers in the country, Gene Wojciechowski, plus all the other writers, and I think this is a helluva staff.
I'm not a Sammy Sosa fan at all, and I'm pretty sure he has used PEDs, but I thought it was absolutely ridiculous the way you confronted him that day. Anyway, that type of ambush journalism seems to be all the rage at ESPN these days (Tejada, Mayo) so I'm sure you were welcomed with open arms. Nice piece you wrote yesterday, stick to stuff like that, dude.
Rick Reilly (1:14 PM)
I respectfully disagree. Sosa had been saying that he wanted to be the first tested, that he couldn't wait for testing. so when i asked him to go to a nearby lab and get tested, voluntarily, so that he could show the world that his numbers, at least, were legitimate (as he was saying he wished to do), he freaked. how is that ambush journalism? he opened the discussion. he invited the possibility.
Sophisticated Sports Fans (Everywhere)
Rick Reilly (1:15 PM)
I don't actually believe you are, in fact, a "sophisticated sports fan." A sophisticated sports fan would write: "You are odorous!"
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Mr. Reilly: It's OK to admit it here. You took the ESPN job for discounted Disney World tickets, didn't you?
Rick Reilly (1:18 PM)
No. I took the job because you get free cards at ESPN Zone and I'm a freak for that football throwing game they have there. You know? Where the two guys go back and forth and you have to throw it through the hole in their bellies? I go there and do that until my arm falls off. I do it until they're mopping under my feet. It was either that or become a waiter there.
Of all the athletes you met, who is the most different in person?
Rick Reilly (1:21 PM)
Lance Armstrong. The guy seems so serious in his interviews. Very taciturn and unemotional. And then, as soon as the camera is turned off, he wants to drink beers and drive 100 mph and play golf and give you crap. He can't rekax, Doesn't want to. Do you realize he usually spends an hour a day just answering people's emails about cancer? I don't really know when the guy sleeps. He drinks too much coffee.
Max (Warren, NJ)
Rick, are you planning on writing another book anytime soon? All your stuff has me in stitches everytime i read it.
Rick Reilly (1:22 PM)
Yes, doing one now that comes out in 2010. Working title: In Search of the World's Dumbest Sport. The early favorite: The World Sauna Championships in Finland. I did not finish last, but I was close.
Rick, not to promote another sports media, but I was a huge fan of your backpage column for SI for so many years. Will you still be writing similar pieces, or did you come over to ESPN to get away from the types of stories you did for so long at SI?
Rick Reilly (1:26 PM)
My plan is to write the same kind of columns as i did at SI, even down to the word count: 800, even online. I don't care that cyberspace is infinite. I still think it's much harder -- and much better -- to be short and pithy. That's the whole trick! I hope nothing changes about that. I still want to write columns that are little surprises each week. I want them to be unpredictable. I want them to add up to something bigger than sports, except when they're just there for laughs. The only change, I think, is that they may skew a little younger considering ESPN's younger and more digital audience.
Austin (Bloomington, IL)
What was the most difficult subject you've ever written a column about?
Rick Reilly (1:27 PM)
Easily the one this week about my dad. Really emotional. Cried writing it. Cried seeing it online.
Joe W. (Farmville, VA)
Do you think John Smoltz's injuries will hurt his golf game?
Rick Reilly (1:28 PM)
OK, now that's funny.
Rick do you plan on another Nothing But Nets fundraiser during your time at ESPN
Rick Reilly (1:31 PM)
yes! Nothing But Nets is an initiative we started with the U.N. Foundation to hang nets over kids in Africa, thus keeping them from getting malaria. 3,000 kids a day die from malaria needlessly! Anyway, we're up to $20 million and it all started with a simple column in SI. You can go to nothingbutnets.net and a $10 donation saves a kid's life. (Sometimes two and three, since more than one kid can sleep under the net.) Anyway, ESPN has been great about it and is willing to help. So, yes, I hope so.
How are you going to write the collumn in the Swimsuit Issue? How do you replace that?
Rick Reilly (1:33 PM)
It is a giant hole in my life now. World's greatest assignment. Spend a week in Tahiti with six girls who are all 5-12 and 108 pounds -- and most of that in their bras -- and write 800 words nobody reads. I guess from now on, when that week comes around, i'll write the column in my own swimsuit and weep quietly.
Tom (South Boston, MA)
Hi Rick, I'm a 23 year old college grad and I've been reading you for years. Any advice for someone who wants to get into sportswriting, or just writing in general? Thanks!
Rick Reilly (1:36 PM)
My No. 1 rule is something Oscar Wilde once said: Never write a sentence you've already read. It's harder than it sounds. It means combing over your stuff time and time again until all the cliches have been removed and replaced with crisp, shiny new stuff. The great Jim Murray of the L.A. Times taught me that, too. He said, "Why should I write 'He beat the heck out of him,' when I can write, "He turned him into six feet of lumps.'?"
"I still think it's much harder -- and much better -- to be short and pithy." You are already taking it to Simmons. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Rick Reilly (1:38 PM)
I've already told him that and he disagrees. He says he likes to write long and be tangential and parenthetical and let it flow. He says, "That's my style." And it's hard to argue with. Look at him. The guy's a pheenom. But it's not my style. I'm sticking with what brung me.
Kevin (Boston, MA)
Rick, love to hear that you are on here at ESPN. Just played a round at Ponky and I swear the left breaking putt went right, any advice on reading the "greens" at Ponky?
Rick Reilly (1:42 PM)
Ponky, of course, is the real course outside Boston that was the inspiration for my mythical, horrible course in my novels Missing Links and Shanks for Nothing. It really exists, against all odds. Your mistake was trying to read the greens at all. When I was there, the cups seemed to be cut by a drunk because they all had a one-inch crown around them. So you had to bang them all hard and hoped they flew in the hole, like in mini golf. Still, I miss the place. And their fantastic 95-cent fried-egg sandwiches.
Don M - Philadelphia, PA
Rumor has it that the Media gets to play Augusta the day after the tournament... What did you shoot there? Or is that just a myth? What is your favorite course to play...and why?
Rick Reilly (1:44 PM)
Not exactly. If you win one of the 20 positions in the lottery, you get to play on Monday. Or if you know somebody with CBS. Or you know a member. I guess i've played there five times and my best is 81. The fairways are huge. That's not the problem. The problem is that the greens are faster than Rosie O'Donnel on a water slide. The year after Crenshaw won for the second time, I had eight three-putts and one four-putt. I'm still not speaking to that putter.
Ken (Atlantic City, NJ)
Rick, it seems the disconnect at times betweens writers and players it wider that it should be. It seems with the hostility from the players some writers can't seem to get the details many of us look for.
Rick Reilly (1:49 PM)
Totally agree. When I first started, in 1979, athletes still needed the press. Needed them to be understood. Needed them to get endorsements. Needed them to make connections after their pro careers were through. Now they make so much money, they don't need us. All we can do is screw up a good thing. So they announce everything on their own websites and cut writers out. That's why I have to work five times as hard now to get them to interact with me, to talk to me. Like asking Derek Jeter if I can spend the day opening all the mail in his extra locker. It's harder but you've got to find a way. You can't just sit on your butt and go, "It's too hard." Because the day you stop talking to athletes and coaches is the day you're, dare I say it, just blogging. And bloggers can be funny and can write really well and have great observations. But it's never as good or as real or as trurthful if you don't actually attempt to speak to your subject.
Kramer ( Cincinnati, OH)
Rick, thank God you're writing again first of all. Second, coming from Cincinnati I'm used to embarasement and ridicule regarding my sports teams. Is Cincinnati suffering from a Marge Schott curse that has blanketed every meaningful sport in this city? Just interested on your take.
Rick Reilly (1:53 PM)
Actually, I love the Reds right now. I think they have a huge upside. I'm still in therapy from my week with Marge, though, in 1996. Riding in her car as she slammed vodkas, smoked two cigarettes at a time, had Schottzie up front with her, Schottzie lighting up one, too, smoke and dirt covering the windshield, her wearing her dead husband's socks, Schottzie in hte front, me in the back, us going to a pro-tobacco rally, her driving while looking UNDER the steering wheel, and me quite sure I was going to meet an inglorious death.
Jon Washington DC
Welcome to ESPN....loved reading the piece you wrote on your Dad. On a different note, would you agree that Sidney Crosby, being only 20 years of age, and if he can stay healthy, will break some of Gretzky's scoring records or at least the Penguins records that Lemieux holds? Or do you think the game has changed so much that a single player cant dominate like they used to because of the focus coaches put on defense now-a-days?
Rick Reilly (1:56 PM)
No. No chance. Gretzky was a freak of nature. What he did to the scoring record would be like somebody hitting 1000 home runs. It's unreachable in our lifetimes, I think. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. I wrote Gretzky's autobiography for him, which was a complete bitch, because the guy won't talk about himself! I'm like, "Gretz, it's an AUTOBIOGRAPHY. You've got to talk about yourself a little. The whole thing can't be about Messier!" Wonderful, humble guy.
Chris (South Bend, IN)
Rick, I just want to compliment you on your book "Hate Mail from Cheerleaders". I still can't believe you got me to buy I book full of articles I had already read.
Rick Reilly (1:57 PM)
Sure, it was a collection of columns you've already read, but what about the absolutely FREE one-paragraph updaates of each story at the bottom?
Now that you have joined espn, have you come up with a catchphrase?
Rick Reilly (1:59 PM)
Yes, I want to do Monday Night Baseball, watch somebody hit a long homerun and holler, "Close the shutter, granny! It's hailin' horsehide!" ... No?
Brian (Boulder, CO)
Welcome to The Network - always nice to see someone from our humble Colorado town make it big. So who do you have in the series, Lakers or Celtics?
Rick Reilly (2:01 PM)
I'd love to see the Lakers win, but I think it will be Celtics in 7, with Kobe getting roughed up, Allen going off (I see him as Ray Bourque in this deal) and Pierce playing great in front of his hometown. And there's no nicer or finer guy in the NBA than Kevin Garnett, so it would be hard not to be happy for him.
Rick Reilly (2:03 PM)
Thanks so much, everybody. I'm pumped to be at the WorldWide Leader. I'm always open to column ideas. Email me at the address at the bottom of the mag column. Sorry I'm quitting seven hours short of Simmons. I'll work on it.