SBD/June 12, 2014/Media

ESPN's Rick Reilly Posts Final Column As Sportswriter, Looks For New Challenges

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Reilly plans to pursue other opportunities after 36 years as a journalist
ESPN’s Rick Reilly has officially “retired” from sports writing after his final column was posted on ESPN.com earlier this week. Reilly plans to move to Italy for several months in order to pursue other interests and “drink every Chianti known to man.” He said before being inducted into the NSSA HOF on Monday night that he has three movie ideas and two book ideas that he would like to work on, but declined to elaborate on any of them. As for why he is giving up sports writing, Reilly, an 11-time National Sportswriter of the Year and dubbed by USA Today as "the closest thing sportswriting has ever had to a rockstar," cited a lesson he learned from his mentor, late L.A. Times columnist Jim Murray. “He always said, ‘Writing a column is like riding a tiger: you’d like to get off, but you don’t know how,’” Reilly said. “He died writing a column. … He was an incredible historian, he loved reading -- and not just sports -- he never got to do that. He always wanted to see all these places he never got to see while he was having to cover the Super Bowl.” Reilly said that he will return to the U.S. at the beginning of the NFL season to assume an on-air TV role at ESPN and will continue to be involved with his UN Foundation campaign, Nothing But Nets. As for the legacy he hopes to have left, Reilly said, “I hope that I wrote the stories that made you feel better about life or feel good about things. Maybe helped you talk to your grandfather again. I love those kind of stories” (Alex Silverman, Staff Writer).

SAYING GOODBYE: Reilly in his farewell column wrote, "I see now how I was raised by sports, how it became my second family, and how I learned at its feet every day." Reilly: "Never let anyone tell you sports doesn't matter. Never let them tell you it's all about the wins, the losses and the stats. Sports is so much more than that." He added, "So why leave the best job in the world after 36 years? To see what else is out there. To learn new lessons from new teachers. To live in Italy, make amends to my piano and never have to care about groin pulls again." Reilly wrote, "It's been my privilege to be your sports writer. If I'd have known so many people would reach out and say so many kind things, I'd have quit years ago. To be told by a young journalist that you were the reason she got into the business; to be told by a grieving son that you made his dying mother laugh; to be told by a reader that a column you wrote changed the direction of his life? It swells the heart." He added, "You've been better to me than I deserve. No writer in history is more flawed than me, but it was never for lack of trying. It was always in my attempt to get to the truth, or to make it fun, or to make it add up to something meaningful to you" (ESPN.com, 6/10).
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