Rick Reilly Is Going To Make You Laugh

By Johnny Ginter on July 21, 2011 at 2:30p
He's got all the free time in the world now

Rick Reilly, tanned and dressed head to toe in plaid Izod apparel, returns home from golfing his third round of the day at the course that sits next to his beautiful home in Hermosa Beach, California. One of the Funniest Humans On The Planet, his incredible body of work includes unforgettable classics such as "Who's Your Caddy?" "Shanks For Nothing" "Missing Links," and "The Human Golfipede: First Sequence."

With a deadline in 30 minutes, he reluctantly sits down at his desk, sipping an Arnold Palmer (the only liquid allowed to enter his body). Searching for inspiration, he logs into his e-mail and opens up a Word document. The master begins.


Mmm! Good. So good. It's like kissing Arnold on the mouth... if only... if... only...

Aw, the article! Okay, gotta get an idea here, let's see what the ol' inbox has for us today. Hmm... 2756 messages. Filter by "you suck"... delete all... you now have 358 messages! Alright, getting somewhere! Okay. Well, ESPN won't let me do another golf story unless I can tie it into Afghanistan or Iraq somehow, so I guess that just leaves inspirational stories about someone overcoming an obstacle and/or horrific injury . Oh, here we go. "Dear Mr. Reilly, my son is a 13 year old baseball player from Wisconsin. Last year he lost a limb in a tragic snowblower accident, but even though he only has one leg..." Leg?! You gotta do better than just a leg, brother. Maybe add some head trauma there. Pass.

Ugh, what else is there? Baseball. No. Hockey. No. Golf. Ye-oh, right. Basketball. No. Football. N-Wait, isn't Nebraska joining the Big Ten this year? Oh man! Slow athletes. The bowl record. Cold weather. Corn puns. This practically writes itself! All right then. Buckle up, America. Get ready to laugh.

Now that you're joining the 12-team Big Ten, nothing is going to make sense anymore. I know it doesn't for me. Growing up as a Colorado Buffs fan, we were taught that if Nebraska was playing Libya, we should be there with a giant poster of Moammar Gaddafi.

BOOM! Topical reference, right off the bat. Edgy, too. That's what you get when you read a Rick Reilly article, kids. Anything goes. Speaking of which, I need something to really get those tweeters going, something to make those fat, golf-deprived shut ins mash their stubby fingers into their smart phones.

You are joining one of the great football traditions in America, a fabric woven with sturdy football, passionate fans and the time-honored institution of selling your jerseys for tattoos.

I can see it now; Ohio State fans, furiously forwarding this article to each other from their man caves in their mother's basement. Their impotent fury will sustain me as I laugh mightily and drink moderately priced wine while watching Tin Cup for the 253rd time.

I need a corn pun though. Something so intricate, so mind blowingly clever that it...

All in all, it ought to be a big game every year. Got a name for it, too. The Cornfrontation.

Perfection. Wait, have I called Nebraska fans dumb rednecks yet? I haven't? Well what the hell am I waiting for?

Your lunatic screamer of a head coach, Bo Pelini -- the man who could be an entire season of "What Not to Wear" -- is going to fit in nicely. Your fans aren't exactly ripped from the Armani catalog, either. Oy, that Sea of Red some of you wear: red socks, red overalls, red cowboy hats. Goes nice with your necks, though.

You know, one of the things that I really love about this job is that I can be anything. One week Rick Reilly can be Serious Issues Rick, haranguing the masses. The next week he can be Goofy Rick, all jovial and fun. This week I'm Superfan Rick, saying outrageous and mean things that I'm normally critical of but it's totally okay because I used to care about a minor college football rivalry 40 years ago! Internal consistency doesn't matter as long as I can attempt to make a joke that maybe someone might laugh at. And if they don't, who cares? According to my own webpage, Wikipedia, and the New York Daily News, I'm hilarious.

Okay, time to take down the rest of the Big Ten, Reilly-style.


The Michigan Man is full of pride in himself and his Michigan degree -- so much so that you're going to want to bring a throw-up bowl along with you.

Throw-up bowl, that's a thing, right? You know what? Doesn't matter. If it isn't I just invented it. Moving on.

Ohio State.

Buckeyes fans are usually very nice people, but all this vacating of wins has caused them to vacate their manners. They harassed Golden Boy QB and ESPN announcer Kirk Herbstreit into moving to Nashville and they sent death threats to the college newspaper sports editor over Tressel. Remind me, what did those guys sell?

Your Cornhuskers and coach Bo Weevil have a chance to come in early and corn-slap some people.

Ricky R is like a rapper. You can't stop this flow, you see what I did there with the word "vacate?" That wasn't some coincidence, I plan this ish. Gotta unironically rep my pal Kirky H, then throw in a boll weevil reference that barely qualifies as a non sequitur, much less any sort of pun. CORN SLAP A HO. Weezy come at me.

Wisconsin. Oh God, the guy next door is a Badger fan. He's huge. Parks in front of my mailbox. Can't say anything to him. What if he reads this? What if he yells at me again? I can't take that. I... I just can't.

I'm afraid Wisconsin is you, Nebraska, only with much better parties and more wins.

That'll do.

Penn State.

Q: Why do Penn State players wear black shoes?
A: Reportedly, coach Joe Paterno believes it makes his players look slower, which is not true. Bowl games do.

Q: How is the health of the 84-year-old Paterno?
A: His ears still hurt a little from The Big Bang.

Gosh, I really hope this sequence doesn't confuse anyone. I mean, with the black shoes thing I'm just trying to point out a possible tactic that the Nittany Lions might employ to confuse their opponents. I'm certainly aware that PSU actually has a teriffic overall bowl record because if I didn't that would mean I have no real knowledge of college football and refused to do even basic research for the one column that I have to write this week. And of course that last Q&A is simply yet another reference to my devout belief that the Big Bang took place 84 years ago on Joe Paterno's birthday, not some horrible joke I lifted from A Prairie Home Companion.

Crap, 10 minutes to submit. And 7 minutes till my next tee time! C'mon Ricky, gotta crank this out fast. Just pick the most base, blasé negative descriptor of a college and then run with it. You don't have the time for real insight or actual wit, just hurry and do your thing!

Michigan State!

If you want to get under their skin, just go up to Michigan State fans wearing Spartans jerseys and say, "Oh, couldn't get into Michigan, huh?"

POW! They're idiots! Northwestern!

You do NOT have to worry about them. But be nice to their students. A lot of them end up running big media companies.

BLAMMO! Rich losers! Illinois!

You draw more for your spring game than the Illini do for regular-season ones. I'm not kidding.

ZAP! Nobody cares! Also they are losers! Indiana!

Just awful. Being a football fan in Indiana is like being a scuba fan in Tibet. There's no point.

KLONK! Maybe they should all kill themselves! Purdue!

It's hard to hate Purdue. You get to watch the little train that runs around. You get to watch the Boilermaker mascot get in fights. And you get to watch Purdue throw the football like crazy and still lose 56-35. Great fun.

CLANG! I haven't watched a Purdue game in 8 years and don't actually know what their mascot looks like, but this is what I'm going with! Minnesota!

The Gophers are in your Legends division. The only thing they're legendary for is losing. You'll love them.

BAMF! Since I couldn't think of anything about them off the top of my head, they're awful, probably!

Whew. Home stretch. Okay, at this point in the article the non Big Ten fan is likely on the floor howling with laughter and the actual Big Ten fan is apoplectic, so let's send both of em into a cardiac arrest with a coup de grace that's so clever it'll ring down the annals of time as one of the greatest moments in sportswriting history. Time to show the world what real satire is, from a twitchy, balding man who can only, for brief moments at a time, stop talking about the most boring game ever created.

You know what might impress them, though? Your bowl record. You're 24-23 all time. You better knock that crap off.

In the Big Ten, that's just showing off.

CHECK. MATE. You've been Rick Reilly'd, Big Ten fans. Get mad all you want (please, please get mad), but nothing can be done about the fact that I just eviscerated you through the power of the written word. It's all in good fun though. I really do love you slovenly, backwards, ignorant pig-men from the region you call the midwest but we in the real world call the seventh circle of hell. Click send, find my clubs, I'm outies.


Johnny leaned back smugly in his desk chair, basking in the small, sad little victory he had scored over a millionaire who would never read his passable attempt at humor. Then he remembered. July, 2010. Gregor Mendel jokes. A Punnett Square. Corn puns.

Oh God. Just as obnoxious. Just as lame. The monster was him all along! Oh God! No! Nooooooooo!


Comments Show All Comments

BuckeyeMark's picture

Reilly's column is exactly what ESPiN is all about: stirring the pot.  Let's make people angry and upset and they'll talk about us and then people will click and go read the column.  This week we'll insult the Big Ten.  Next week we'll hammer The Big 12.  Then we'll run an article titled "Why No One but the SEC will Ever Win a BCS Trophy."  Then we'll have a top ten list that doesn't include anybody from the Pac 10.  Sigh...

Denny's picture

Rick Reilly wrote a shitty article? 

Shocked, I am. Shocked.


Maestro's picture

Nebraskans are more corn fed mules than rednecks.  Can't believe he didn't work that in.

vacuuming sucks

buckeyedude's picture

I'm really shocked that Reilly didn't  mention Daniel Lawrence Whitney, better known as Larry the Cable Guy. He fits right in with the midwest redneck farmibilly stereotype.  Big Bug Eaters fan from Nebraska, he is.



BucksfanXC's picture

He did.

"Because your state gave us Johnny Carson and Larry the Cable Guy."

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

buckeyedude's picture

My bad. Didn't click the link.



Bucksfan's picture


This is the final article in the famous SI issue following the Fiesta Bowl with Craig Krenzel on the cover.

Johnny Ginter's picture

here's what really makes me mad about reilly: the secret is that he actually had the potential to be one of the best sportswriters of his generation. he was doing really insightful, brave stuff back in the day, like this article on the citadel:


...and then he got completely lazy, started pumping out completely useless books and columns about golf, and now makes millions for working approximately 8 hours a week. the american dream.

JozyMozy's picture

I have a similar feeling about Gregg Doyel, even though he's nowhere near as popular or successful as Reilly. In the past, Doyel consistently came up with insightful, thought provoking stuff that may or may not have gone against a popular sentiment in making a point. A great example is this piece from April 2010, in which Doyel respectfully disagrees with Hank Aaron's stance that there are too few black players in the Major Leagues:


I was impressed to see a point concerning a potentially delicate subject handled in such a thorough, rational, and somewhat convincing manner. So I started reading Doyel's stuff regularly. Sadly, the stupid-ass macho attitude conveyed in his weekly "hate mail" feature, in which he dedicates a full column to his own childish, insulting responses to angry reader mail, began to embody the tone of all of his stuff. Gregg Doyel, all 5'8" and 150 lbs of him, regularly made comments about how he would destroy them, readers from the internet, in an octagon, etc. He started openly insulting athletes/public figures on twitter, like repeatedly calling Carson Palmer a 'worthless coward' and questioning his masculinity. It's just sad. I expect that from the internet, but not from such a talented 'professional.' 



back to Reilly...holy shit. I still can't believe those quotes are from his real, honest-to-goodness article published online. 

flipbuckeye's picture

Looks like you need to step your Izod game up, Johnny.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

Does he really live in Hermosa. Might have to find his house and bring a brown bag, lighter and my dog Woody for a walk after a large meal......

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

I have a dog named Woody as well. Beagle. What's yours?

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

Black lab.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

He hasn't seen Bucks lose to UM, btw. Blessed life that dog has lived.

GoHskrs's picture

Lame effort.  Woody Paige, also an ESPN hanger-on, used to slam Nebraska every year in the Denver Post prior to CU-NU, and he was, actually, y'know, funny.  I experienced the twin emotions of laughter and white-hot rage - simultaneously - while reading several Woody columns.

tampa buckeye's picture

Wr commit coming soon.  Michael Thomas Woodland Hills ,CA  6'3 220ish 

Bucksfan's picture

Did anybody read Reilly's article today on the Woods-Williams story?


If not, Johhny's quote from above: "I'm certainly aware that PSU actually has a teriffic overall bowl record because if I didn't that would mean I have no real knowledge of college football and refused to do even basic research for the one column that I have to write this week"  certainly applies.

Reilly writes in the first few lines:

When the parade of porn stars and pancake princesses came pouring out of Tiger's past, [Steve Williams] went stone mute for Woods.

That's not true in the slightest.  Williams came out right away after the scandal broke on New Zealand's version of 60 minutes, and said "I'm a straight-up sort of person. If I had known something was going on, the whistle would have been blown."  It was a big deal at the time.  It was all over SportsCenter.

And it's not even fair at this point with Reilly.  I mean, all he had to do was show up at work this morning and he would have heard this quote uttered in the studios at Bristol at least a dozen times in the morning hours.  All he probably would have had to do was flip on Cowherd's show or Mike and Mike.  These are just ESPN's coverages on yesterday's news.

The rest of the article is a scathing, cynical diatribe at Woods.  Woods might not be as good now as he was 10 yeas ago...or 3 years ago.  He still has 14 major championships, and no one else out there comes close.  Who is he to question this man's decisions after having to completely reinvent his life?

Before the 1986 Masters, Reilly was in Augusta outside the Champions' locker room.  At the time, Jack was having some financial trouble after building some golf courses and not winning in a while.  He asks Nicklaus point blank, "Uh, Mr. Nicklaus, we hear you're broke."  ARE YOU SERIOUS?!  What a d-bag!

Reilly is no gentleman.  And for a non-gentleman to be covering THE gentleman's game is nauseating.  Just because he likes golf or sports doesn't mean he should be anywhere near them.  And it sounds like he doesn't really know much about anything else either.

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

Didn't I see somewhere that he brought a woman to a press booth and had a drunken make out session?

blh's picture

I actually made the mistake of reading this week's attempt at a column from Reilly and I can't figure out if it made me stupider than usual or if I'm confused because of his crappy writing, but he seems to twice say that Wisconsin has more wins than Nebraska. Am I reading this sentence wrong:  "I'm afraid Wisconsin is you, Nebraska, only with much better parties and more wins." Does he really think Wisky has more wins than the 4th winningest team of all time? He can't be that lazy/stupid can he?  Again, any help here would be appreciated.


Johnny Ginter's picture

honestly i was torn on whether to straight up fact check this thing or make fun of him, but luckily me and hammer and rails have some kind of shining thing going on and they did the less fun to write but equally funny factual response to the thing: http://www.hammerandrails.com/2011/7/21/2286910/rick-reilly-on-the-big-t...

m1ek's picture

Wow. Well done noticing PSU's bowl record. I think that's the first time I've ever seen somebody from another Big Ten school actually get that right.

Maestro's picture

Pretty sure only Bama and SoCal's records are better, and at least in USC's case they have had a slight home field advantage on just a couple occasions.

vacuuming sucks

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

you mean like an SEC team in a BCS game?!?!?

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

Bucks's picture

Jason or some other 11w familiar, I'm looking for a posting a few months old by Jason ... showing a side by side comparison with USC. Settling a bet somewhat live right now & could use the link to that story!


Bucks's picture

Nevermind, found it & ty.

Buckeyeneer's picture

I concur, Reilly did use to be good. This boxing article I thought was amazing and uplifting. Give it a whirl: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/inside_game/magazine/life_of_reilly/news/1999/12/21/life_of_reilly/

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University