Wonder why Rick Reilly looks so happy? After leaving SI for ESPN in 2007 and then signing a huge contract with ESPN worth about $3 million dollars a year, Reilly has been a bust of Akili Smith like proportions. Or Tim Couch. Or JaMarcus Russell.... or insert whatever infamous bust you choose. His most memorable moments have been bizarre columns in which he's duped by satire, goofy TV segments, and of course his epic Twitter reporting skillz.
Under no metric can Rick Reilly's ESPN tenure be viewed as a success. That's not to say Reilly can't still deliver a good column or a funny joke on Twitter every now and then. That's not to say he's not talented and doesn't deserve some of the awards he's won in his career as SI's back page columnist. But he hasn't come close to justifying his massive contract as his form has slipped and ESPN has struggled to find the right spot for him.
So what's ESPN going to do?
Re-sign Rick Reilly of course, according to Richard Deitsch of SI...
If Reilly is returning to ESPN, I'd imagine it is at a greatly reduced rate. At this point, it could be a situation where Reilly has nowhere else to go (hard to imagine him going back to SI, and hard to imagine another network really jumping at the bit to get a hold of Reilly's skill set). His recent work has been widely panned and the criticism has been harsh for Reilly's ESPN career. Especially considering recent reports were that ESPN couldn't wait to get out from the albatross that was his current contract, this is a surprise to say the least. It's not like Reilly is an institution at ESPN with a lifetime contract like Dick Vitale or Chris Berman. I'd put him in the same category as Bob Knight. Big name hires that for whatever reason didn't work out as ESPN envisioned.
It's difficult to see what the benefits are for ESPN in keeping Reilly around. More Homecoming specials? More essays? More weird columns? Just so ESPN can give blogs more material? From that perspective I suppose I can't complain... but otherwise, it's a puzzling decision from Bristol.
The other thing with Reilly on twitter is his absolute touchiness, months ago someone tweeted a link to a Reilly column here in Australia, and I repled on Twitter panning him for how no one takes him seriously anymore and that he was a joke, within minutes Reilly retweeted it to his bevvy of devoted fans encouraging them to let me know the truth. Seemed an overreactin to me
@awfulannouncing if they will let lebatard come back, nothing should be a surprise
@awfulannouncing I would like to see Rick Reilly and Skip Bayliss to duke it out.
@awfulannouncing Here is a list of things that are less entertaining than Rick Reilly: 1. 2. 3. ummm.... I guess that's it...
@awfulannouncing what a fuckstick
@awfulannouncing Can you please note that I had this on tumblr first?
@awfulannouncing who had that first on twitter?
@awfulannouncing Signing Reilly at this point is like whichever team lands Urlacher. Bargain deal for someone who used to be great.
. @awfulannouncing They're better off stuffing that money under my cushions
@awfulannouncing did you give Rick Reilly credit on Twitter for breaking the story?
@awfulannouncing I bet he had the story first! ESPN continues to slide further and further into oblivion
@awfulannouncing how did he miss that scoop?
If his skills are more just the writing aspect of sports journalism, maybe there's a spot under Bill Simmons at Grantland. If his ego has been broken enough that is.
The more of Reilly you see and hear, the more irritating he gets. I'm not a Notre Dame fan, but his trashing of ND actually made me hope Mike Golic might slap the dork around a little.
I never understood that move by ESPN. Reilly's writing has always been hackish at best. He's a cliche wrapped in a suit inside a locker room.
"Brett Favre is like my uncle who used to fool us with the tennis ball can full of snakes gag!" - he actually made this comparison on air once
Writers can do TV here and there, but it doesn't translate. He's stiff and uncomfortable and he made a deal with the devil