I can't say I've ever disliked Rick Reilly. Because my interest initially gravitated toward Bill Simmons, I naturally sided with The Sports Guy in the top-ESPN columnist rivalry. I never boycotted Reilly's writing, just consciously ignored it. Especially if there was new Simmons material.
The light in which I viewed Reilly changed this past Tuesday, and it didn't get brighter.
As I entered Cromwell Field to watch the Trojans engage in intrasquad abuse for Competition Tuesday, I noticed a familiar face speaking with the SC Sports Information Director.
Oh, hey Rick Reilly I text in typical douchebag-boasting fashion to Wilt Stilts (by the way - quit changing your fucking name. We're big-time now). I stand about three feet to the left of the superstar writer and eavesdrop a bit on his conversation with the SID. He's cordial and engaging; he asks questions about the SID's family and gets his thoughts on the team and other headlines that day.
I follow up my text to Wilt with Should I ask him "Can I have your autograph, Mr. Simmons?" I consider the proposition and imagine two possible Reilly reactions:
1. An obligatory laugh, which leads into conversation.
2. A death-stare that forces me to change my major, as I know longer have a semblance of a career in anything remotely resembling journalism.
As practice breaks, Reilly drifts around the field, venturing close to the huddles of beat reporters talking to various players, but clearly biding his time for the bigger fish. After that fish - Matt Barkley - finishes with the subservient writers, an assistant SID brings him over to Reilly where they immediately strike up a conversation while walking off the field. At this point, the only people left on the field are the departing Reilly party, myself and Pete Carroll, who is the final soudbyte engulfed in a sea of outstretched arms holding microphones.
As Reilly crew approaches the exit gates, a couple with an enormous Beethoven-looking dog asks Barkley if he has time for one photo with the beast. In the freshman's brief moment of hesitation to respond, Reilly steps in like a defensive end sprung free on the blindside and knocks the question to the ground like an Albert Haynesworth sack.
"No. We're busy."
Questions directed at athletes are typically addressed by one of two parties: the athlete or the organization's public relations representative. Reilly was neither. Reilly's ego isn't a mystery, but I'm a fan of giving assholes the benefit of the doubt. Reilly left none.
To compound my newly-etched deplorable impression of Reilly, I read his most recent column on Michael Jordan. If the topic had been any different, I would have ignored it like flirtatious remarks from a chick who fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.
Reilly spends the article shitting on Jordan's self-centered, ungracious speech, and then concludes with an anecdote about how he got the scoop on MJ's second comeback long before any other reporter. Here's he wrote:
"Before his second comeback -- with the Washington Wizards -- I was the first out with the story by a month. Jordan and his agent, David Falk, denied it, said I was crazy, practically said I was smoking something. Then, after a month of lies, Jordan admitted it was all true. I saw him in the locker room before his first game back and said, "You wanna say something to me, maybe?"
And he said, "You know you don't get no apologies in this business."Mr. Reilly, is your head so far up your ass that you couldn't recognize your own hypocrisy? Sorry. I retract that statement. You've already answered it.