Rick Reilly

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Rick Reilly

Richard Paul Reilly (born February 3, 1958) 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 was a featured columnist for ESPN.com and wrote the back page column for ESPN the Magazine.[1] Reilly hosted 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.[2] 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.[2] 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.[2] The "Life of Reilly" was the first signed opinion piece in SI's history.[3] By some accounts, during his prime he was considered the preeminent sportswriter in the United States.[4] Reilly officially left SI during the week of November 29, 2007, after 23 years with the magazine to join ESPN.

At ESPN, his column “Life of Reilly” appeared in ESPN The Magazine (also on the last page) and on ESPN.com. On March 10, 2010, Reilly announced that he would no longer be writing his opinion column for the magazine, but was going to a regular essay on SportsCenter.[1] Reilly delivered essays from live sporting events for SportsCenter and other ESPN telecasts, such as the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, and the British Open. He also hosted “Homecoming”, an interview program, on ESPN, which was taped in the hometowns of featured guests. The series launched in April 2009.[5]

On March 12, 2014 he announced his retirement from sports writing, and his last column was published on ESPN.com on June 10, 2014. ESPN announced that he would continue working for them in a television-only capacity, including SportsCenter and Sunday NFL Countdown.[6]


Reilly has been voted NSSA National Sportswriter of the Year eleven times.[2][7] He is second only to the late Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times (14) in number of times winning that award.[7] In 2009, he joined a roster of journalism notables as winner of the Damon Runyon Award for Outstanding Contributions to Journalism.[8] 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, Renée Zellweger and John Krasinski and released in April 2008.

Reilly's first novel, Missing Links, has been optioned for development as a feature film.[citation needed]


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.[9]

Editorial stances[edit]

In 2002, after Sammy Sosa's public assertion that if baseball initiated testing for performance-enhancing drugs, he "wanted to be first in line", Reilly suggested that he submit to preemptive, voluntary testing. "Why wait to see what the players' association will do?" Reilly asked. "Why not step up right now and be tested? Show everybody you're clean." Sosa refused, angrily. Reilly described the incident in his column the following week.[10][11]

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.[12][13][14]

Reilly had long defended cyclist Lance Armstrong against accusations of using illegal performance enhancements, in part because his own reporting turned up no evidence corroborating the allegations that had been made against Armstrong over the years. When Armstrong confessed in January 2013 after many years of denials, Reilly wrote a strongly critical piece about Armstrong, saying that he had spent 14 years "polishing a legend that turned out to be plated in fool's gold."[15][16]

Nothing But Nets[edit]

In 2006, Reilly wrote a column in Sports Illustrated about a program dedicated to providing anti-malaria nets to African children at a cost of $10 per net.[17] His request for contributions elicited a response from thousands and led to the creation of the Nothing But Nets foundation in partnership with the United Nations Foundation.[citation needed]


Reilly's books include:

  • The Boz – (Doubleday, 1988) – Co-author of the best-selling autobiography of Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth.
  • Gretzky – (Harper Collins, 1990) – The autobiography of hockey superstar, Wayne Gretzky. Reilly was the co-author with Gretzky.
  • I'd Love to but I Have a Game – (Doubleday, 1993) – Co-author with announcer Marv Albert.
  • Sir Charles – The Wit and Wisdom of Charles Barkley – (Warner Books, 1994) – Co-author with Charles Barkley.
  • Missing Links – (Doubleday, 1996) – A novel about an eccentric group of golfers who are regulars at the worst public golf course in America.
  • Slo Mo! – (Doubleday, 1999) – A fictional diary of a naive 7'8" kid taken from high school to the NBA.
  • The Life of Reilly – (Total Sports Illustrated, 2000) - An anthology of Reilly's best early works from Sports Illustrated. A New York Times bestseller.
  • Who's Your Caddy – (Doubleday, 2003) – 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.
  • Shanks for Nothing – (Doubleday, 2006) – 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.
  • Hate Mail from Cheerleaders and Other Adventures from the Life of Reilly – (Sports Illustrated, 2007) – An anthology consisting of one-hundred Reilly's best weekly articles from 2000 to 2006. An instant success, it hit the New York Times bestseller list in its first week.[citation needed]
  • Sports from hell – my search for the world's dumbest competition (Doubleday, 2010)
  • Tiger, meet my sister... ...and other things I probably shouldn't have said (Blue Rider Press, 2014)
  • Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump – (Hachette Books, 2019) – An on-the-ground and behind-the-scenes look at Donald Trump's ethics deficit on and off the course.
  • So Help Me Golf - (Hatchette Books, 2022)

Personal life[edit]

Reilly appeared in a Miller Lite commercial with Rebecca Romijn in 1999.[18]

Reilly is married and resides in Hermosa Beach, CA and Sedona, AZ.[19]


  1. ^ a b Riley, Rick (2010-03-10). "Someone stop this man: Greg Wise of Yates High in Houston is famous for running up the score". ESPN The Magazine. ESPN. Retrieved 2010-03-12.
  2. ^ a b c d Rick Reilly. "Bio of Rick Reilly". Retrieved 2010-06-22.
  3. ^ "BIO: Rick Reilly". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2010-03-12.
  4. ^ Yoder, Matt (March 12, 2014). "Rick Reilly Will (Formally) Give Up His Writing His Sportswriting Column at ESPN.com". Awful Announcing. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  5. ^ "Reilly leaves Sports Illustrated to join ESPN". ESPN.com. October 22, 2007. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
  6. ^ Chase, Chris (12 March 2014). "Legendary sportswriter Rick Reilly is done writing for ESPN". USA Today. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  7. ^ a b National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. "National Winners - NSSA Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on April 26, 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-22.
  8. ^ John C. Ensslin. "Denver Press Club's Damon Runyon Award for contributions in the field of journalism". Denver Press Club. Archived from the original on 2010-11-08. Retrieved 2010-06-22.
  9. ^ "Rick Reilly's Complete Dental Records". Slate.
  10. ^ Reilly, R. Excuse Me for Asking. Sports Illustrated archive, retrieved March 8, 2016.
  11. ^ Greenstein, Teddy. "Sportswriter Rick Reilly recalls the time he called Sammy Sosa on his bluff about steroids in 2002 — and how the Chicago Cubs slugger folded". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  12. ^ Reilly, Rick. "He Loves Himself Barry Much Bonds has his own p.r. man, masseur and flex guy. He's an MTV diva, only with bigger earrings". Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  13. ^ Reilly, Rick. "Giving Barry His Due". Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  14. ^ "SI's Rick Reilly riled up about Barry Bonds coming to Coors Field". KUSA.com. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  15. ^ Reilly, Rick. It's all about the lies. ESPN, 2013-01-17.
  16. ^ Oregonian/OregonLive, John Canzano (23 September 2016). "Rick Reilly weighs in on Donald Trump cheating, Lance Armstrong lying and why the NFL stinks". oregonlive. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  17. ^ Nothing But Nets at the Wayback Machine (archived 30 April 2006)
  18. ^ Elliott, Stuart (5 March 1999). "THE MEDIA BUSINESS: ADVERTISING; A campaign for Miller Lite goes back to basics and beyond the appeal to younger consumers". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  19. ^ "ABOUT RICK | Rick Reilly". Retrieved 2023-07-19.

External links[edit]