Rick Reilly Wants You To Get Off His Lawn

I never had a big problem with Rick Reilly when he was at SI. Sure, he wasn't always in touch with things, but he was an old-school journalist who didn't seem to take himself too seriously. He wrote a nice little column in the back of SI that sometimes was really, really good. And sometimes was really stupid. But hey, we all mail things in from time to time (insert joke about my posts here).

But Reilly joined the Entertainment and sports Programming Network last year and he's gotten a little more annoying. And by having more of a Web presence, he's getting more noticed by other amateur writers -- or bloggers -- for whom Reilly does not much care. The pull quote of the article was this:

“I don’t really go on the blogs, because they don’t really like anybody," he said. "Jesus could do a column and they’d be like, ‘What the hell is with the hair?’ It’ll always be something.
"Charles Barkley told me a long time ago always half the people are going to hate you and half the people are going to love you. If you suddenly change who you are, the other half will hate you. I don’t really care what people holding down couch springs do or say."

Wow. Disrespect. Face! You showed us, Reilly. Of course, who do you think reads ESPN.com? 55-year-olds sitting on the toilet? Oh, no, that's right... that's who read your old column. Did you also know, Rick, that ESPN employs "bloggers"? Guys like Adam Rittenberg, who is always giving us interesting and sometimes insider info on Big Ten basketball and football.... and, you know, puts up content. And does it frequently. All while holding down couch springs.

Oh, no, wait... you probably don't mean him, because he's legit in your eyes, because he works for ESPN. So you mean... guys like me... the kinds of guys who are essentially paying your salary by paying attention to you, you old fart. Way to not come off like a haughty a-hole.

Let's go back to the article, shall we?

On whether he buys the criticism that he does not come off as well on TV as in print:

"I know I’m not Bob Costas, but I think if you can get past the big nose and nasally voice, I think I’m trying to bring interesting sentences, good writing, clear and maybe unusual opinions to television.’’

Yes, interesting, unusual, cutting-edge opinions on things like.... beer pong. Groundbreaking, Rick.

"But what I find out so far is when you write a great column, people are like, ‘Oh, I emailed it to my 100 best friends,’ or ‘I was able to talk to my dad finally,’ or ‘I buried the hatchet with my son,’ or ‘I realized I had a problem with alcohol.’ You really move people.

"When I write stuff on TV, it’s, ‘Hey, saw you on TV!’ ‘What was that shirt?’ ‘Why were you wearing those shoes?’ People can’t get past the odd looking person on TV to hear what you’re saying yet. It’s almost like they’re amazed that the electronics at their house worked: ‘Look, I saw you on TV!’ What about what I said about my father? ‘Uh, no, I just saw that that was a weird nose.’"

Okay, first off, I guess Reilly is less modest than I thought, if he thinks his 800-word sports vigniettes are changing people's lives. But moving on to his weird over-obsession with what people think of how he looks... I don't know, Rick, but I don't think people are glossing over some super-important point you're making to make fun of your shirt. I think your points are silly and your comments are often of the goofy-ass, unfunny type. The weak puns Reilly puts forth fit in nicely with Berman at the WWL, though.

This next passage might be my favorite, though.

[The] ... perception that there is tension between ... Bill Simmons [and Reilly]:

"Where do they get this stuff? I get along with him. I think he’s funny. I think he’s a great turner of phrases. I’ve tried to learn from him how he builds an audience on the Internet.

One of the first things Simmons does is try to avoid insulting his readership.

He definitely has that new blogger style where you write in stream of consciousness style, a lot of parentheses, a lot of tangents, and that’s not the way I was raised.

Gotcha. So you insult bloggers as a whole in this interview (because, you know, we all think in lockstep) and then you compare Simmons, who you're trying to convince us you like, to.... bloggers?

I also like "that's not the way I was raised." As though Bill Simmons is rude to old people while Rick Reilly helps them across the street.

"My whole thing was hey, you’ve got 800 words, choose them wisely. Pick the exact word you want and don’t waste a word and kill your darlings even if you love them, that it’s got to fit. He comes from a whole different era where it doesn’t have to fit. He can go on for 7,000 words if he wants. My kids read him.

Ah, the subtle (even possibly unintentional) dig about how your kids read him. We get it, Rick. Bill Simmons is for children; Rick Reilly is for the grown-ups.

More from Rickey:

On how he divides his time among his various ESPN duties:

"The number one thing for me by far is the column. That’s what I spend all of my time pulling my hair out and chewing through table legs about: writing a great column. Because I want to write something that no one else is writing, good sentences, 800 words, no more. Even though it’s on-line, I still believe in 800 words.

Something no one else is writing. Yes, like a stupid column about how we should take away a bunch of MVP awards and give them to other guys, who might just as well be steroid users. Yes, Rick, that's something nobody else has ever said. Doofus.

Whatever. Like I said, I don't have a huge problem with Reilly, but the more he talks -- especially about current media, like the Web and blogging -- the more he looks like a detached old man. As any politician will tell you, insulting your base is not the best way to get liked.

The 2008-2009 Season -- How We Got Here

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