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. 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. 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. By some accounts, during his prime he was considered the "preeminent sportswriter in America". Reilly officially left SI during the week of November 29, 2007, after 23 years with the magazine.
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. 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.
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.
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's first novel, Missing Links, has been optioned for development as a feature film.
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, 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.
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.
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."
Nothing But Nets
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. 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.
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.
- 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.
- Rick Reilly. "Bio of Rick Reilly". Retrieved 2010-06-22.
- "BIO: Rick Reilly". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2010-03-12.
- 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.
- "Reilly leaves Sports Illustrated to join ESPN". ESPN.com. October 22, 2007. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
- Chase, Chris (12 March 2014). "Legendary sportswriter Rick Reilly is done writing for ESPN". USA Today. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
- National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. "National Winners - NSSA Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on April 26, 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-22.
- 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.
- "Rick Reilly's Complete Dental Records". Slate.
- Reilly, R. Excuse Me for Asking. Sports Illustrated archive, retrieved March 8, 2016.
- Reilly, Rick. It's all about the lies. ESPN, 2013-01-17.
- "Video". CNN. March 15, 1999. Retrieved May 22, 2010.