"I write the story that nobody reads. Someday, I'm going to write it in German to see if anyone notices." -- Rick Reilly
Richard "Rick" Paul Reilly (born February 3, 1958 in Boulder, Colorado) is an American sportswriter. Long known for being the "back page" columnist for Sports Illustrated, Reilly moved to ESPN on June 1, 2008 where he is a featured columnist for ESPN.com and wrote the back page column for ESPN the Magazine. Reilly hosts ESPN’s Homecoming with Rick Reilly, an interview show, and he is a contributing essayist for ESPN SportsCenter and ABC Sports.
Reilly began his career in 1979 as an undergraduate assistant with the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colorado. He left the Camera in 1981 to be a football writer on the sports staff of the Denver Post, then on to the Los Angeles Times in 1983 before joining Sports Illustrated in 1985. Reilly has become a recognized name in the sportswriting industry because of his human interest pieces; his column, “Life of Reilly” was featured on the back page of SI from 1997 until 2007 when he announced that he would leaving Sports Illustrated to join ESPN. The "Life of Reilly" was the first signed opinion piece in SI's history. Reilly officially left SI during the week of November 29, 2007, after 23 years with the magazine.
“Life of Reilly” now appeared in ESPN The Magazine (also the last page) and on ESPN.com. On March 10, Reilly announced that he would no longer be writing his opinion column for the magazine, but was going to a regular essay on SportsCenter. Reilly delivers essays from live sporting events for SportsCenter and other ESPN telecasts, such as the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, and the British Open. He is host of “Homecoming”, an interview program, also on ESPN, taped in the hometowns of featured guests. The series launched in April 2009.
Reilly has been voted NSSA National Sportswriter of the Year eleven times. He is second only to the late Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times (14) in number of times winning that award. In 2009, he joined a roster of journalism notables as winner of the Damon Runyon Award for Outstanding Contributions to Journalism. His work has also been recognized by the prestigious New York Newspaper Guild's Page One Award for Best Magazine Story.
Reilly co-wrote the screenplay for Leatherheads, a film directed by George Clooney, starring Clooney, Renee Zellweger and John Krasinski and released in April 2008.
Reilly’s first novel, Missing Links, has been optioned for development as a feature film.
The New York Daily News called Reilly "one of the funniest humans on the planet."
Reilly does have a serious side and has written on a broad range subjects. His writing often focuses on themes of family, heroism, and human spirit. He has said in his columns that he doesn't write about sports, but writes "about people IN sports".
Slate's Josh Levin noted that Reilly had an affinity for discussing pro athletes and their accomplishments via tooth jokes. He is especially harsh on dental flossing. He described Tiger Woods's 2002 victory at Augusta as suspenseful as flossing, riding Lance Armstrong's team car about as boring as flossing sharks, would rather floss crocodiles than go skydiving, and stated John Elway's perfect endorsement product would be Johnson & Johnson dental floss.
In 2002, Reilly responded to Sammy Sosa's assertion that he would "take a drug test if someone offered it to him" by spontaneously offering him a chance to drive to a local lab and take a drug test after a game; Sosa reacted by yelling and threatening him. Reilly responded in his column the next week.
Reilly has also been a frequent critic of former San Francisco Giants star Barry Bonds for his treatment of his teammates, his off-field behavior and his alleged steroid use.
Nothing But Nets
In 2006, Reilly wrote a column in Sports Illustrated about program dedicated to providing anti-malaria nets to African children at a cost of $10 per net. His request for contributions elicited a response from thousands and led to the creation the Nothing But Nets foundation in partnership with the United Nations Foundation. By mid-2009, the initiative has collected over $24 million dollars.
Reilly’s books include:
Slo Mo! – (Doubleday) — A fictional diary of a naive 7'8" kid taken from high school to the NBA.
Missing Links – (Doubleday) — A novel about an eccentric group of golfers who are regulars at the worst public golf course in America.
Shanks for Nothing – (Doubleday) — This sequel to Missing Links cracked the New York Times bestseller list. Like Missing Links, it revolves around the antics and camaraderie of the regulars of the Ponkaquogue Municipal Golf Links and Deli.
The Life of Reilly – An anthology of Reilly's best early works from Sports Illustrated. A New York Times bestseller.
Hate Mail from Cheerleaders and Other Adventures from the Life of Reilly – An anthology consisting of one-hundred Reilly's best weekly articles from 2000-2006. An instant success, it hit the New York Times bestseller list in its first week.
Who's Your Caddy – (Doubleday) — A collection of stories about Reilly caddying for several remarkable people ranging from Donald Trump to the blind golfing world champion. A New York Times bestseller.
The Boz – Co-author of the best-selling autobiography of Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth.
I'd Love to but I Have a Game – co-author with announcer Marv Albert.
The Wit and Wisdom of Charles Barkley – co-author with Charles Barkley.
Gretzky – The autobiography of hockey superstar, Wayne Gretzky. Reilly was the co-author with Gretzky.
Reilly married the former Cynthia Puchniarz, four years younger, in October 2008. From 1983 until 2003, he was married to the former Linda Campbell of Boulder, Colorado. Together they had three children whom Reilly writes about often.
During an altercation in a bar in 1997, Charles Barkley threw 20-year-old Jorge Lugo through a plate-glass window. This led to a long standing running gag in Reilly's column which included a year-end award dubbed "The Chuckies" dedicated to people or things in sports that deserved to be thrown through a plate-glass window. Barkley later wrote the foreword to "Life of Reilly".
Reilly has his own football card, which he detailed in a column. The card was part of the Donruss "Fans of the Game" series, and featured Reilly with the logo of his favorite team, the now-relocated Los Angeles Rams.
Reilly is an avid supporter of Lance Armstrong and has often argued him to be the greatest athlete of all time. Armstrong wrote the foreword for Hate Mail from Cheerleaders and Other Adventures from the Life of Reilly.
Six of his articles have been included in the Best American Sports Writing anthology series.
Reilly appeared in a Miller Lite commercial with Rebecca Romijn.