Rick Reilly’s lame jokes undercut his argument

Rick Reilly wrote a piece about how TCU’s win over Wisconsin proves, yet again, that college football needs a playoff. I agree with just about everything he says, but then he writes this:

What a lie this BCS era is. They say a playoff would take too much time away from school, yet Oregon’s players will have had 37 days off when they play again.

They say with this system, “every game counts.” Except of course, TCU’s epic win over Wisconsin to stay undefeated Saturday. Counts exactly as much as a rainbow to Stevie Wonder.

Here’s what was going through my mind as I read that section…

What a lie this BCS era is. Yep. They say a playoff would take too much time away from school, yet Oregon’s players will have had 37 days off when they play again. Yep. They say with this system, “every game counts.” Except of course, TCU’s epic win over Wisconsin to stay undefeated Saturday. Not epic, but yep. Counts exactly as much as a rainbow to Stevie Wonder. Wait, whaa? Leave Stevie out of it!

Seriously, dude is blind. He’s had enough to deal with in his life without a sportswriter (who has won National Sportswriter of the Year 11 times — sigh) invoking his handicap to make a lame joke so that his column will seem like it’s funny.

This is why I don’t generally read Rick Reilly. I read this piece because I’m in favor of a college football playoff and I wanted to see if he had anything new and/or interesting to add.


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Correcting Rick Reilly, Part 2: Rick wants coaches to show less class

Every issue of ESPN The Magazine ends the same way. I absolutely dread flipping to Rick Reilly’s back page column because it usually throws me into a state of depression. I can’t believe that ESPN is paying Reilly what they are when the guy can only produce a good, entertaining column once in a blue moon.

Reilly’s column for the Feb. 23 issue is no different. He starts off with a bad joke.

I’ve been fired more than pottery.


Hey, at least he didn’t shoehorn in some stale pop culture reference. I’ll give him that.

He then runs down his personal employment history, or at least those jobs that didn’t end well.

I was fired from my first job at 12. Some people apparently don’t want their tulips mowed. I was fired from my babysitting gig at 13. Who knew a diaper wouldn’t completely flush? Got fired as a machine/tool rental store assistant at 16. Thought the boss said, “Fifteen parts oil, one part gas in the jackhammers.” Turns out, it was the other way around. Pick-ee.

And how did I react whenever I got canned? Not well. Once, my pals and I egged the offending organization’s window front.

So he performs horribly at his job and reacts to getting fired by vandalizing his ex-employee’s place of business? Nice.

He then goes on about how coaches are too nice after they’ve been fired.

Read the rest after the jump...

Correcting Rick Reilly, Part 1: Rick should stop trying to be funny

Regular readers might be familiar with my ongoing series, Correcting Bill Simmons. Now that I’m forcibly exposed to Rick Reilly’s back page column in ESPN The Mag, it’s time to start a new series with Reilly as the star.

This week, he wrote a somewhat touching piece about how Jay Cutler’s dealings with Type 1 diabetes has affected children all over the country. Reilly isn’t bad at the heart-warming stuff, but when he tries to be funny, he just comes off as stiff. Take this paragraph:

Shy and mop-haired, he led the league in shrugs. He looked like he had terminal influenza. The bags under his eyes had bags. And yet he’d sleep 10 hours at night and three more after practice. He lost 35 pounds in the 2007 season alone. He couldn’t concentrate. He was starting to look like the biggest bust since Lindsay Lohan. And that’s when he found out he had diabetes. Or rather, it had him.

All right, there are two problems here. The first is the statement that Cutler was a bust when he hit the league. I don’t know if Reilly is talking about Cutler’s first or second season, but he played pretty well even prior to getting diagnosed with diabetes. In 2006, he played in five games and threw for an average of 200 yards, 1.8 TD and 1.0 INT. In 2007, he played in all 16 games and finished with 3497 yards, 20 TD and 14 INT. What about these numbers says “bust”?

When I found out that a pre-diagnosed Cutler was still able to be a decent fantasy QB despite losing 35 pounds and much of his strength, I put him at the top of my sleeper QB list heading into 2008. Needless to say, that has paid off.

Then there’s the comparison to Lindsay Lohan.

He was starting to look like the biggest bust since Lindsay Lohan.

What does this mean? Is he saying that Lohan was a bust in that she was destined for big things but has since fallen from grace? Or is he saying that she has big knockers? If it’s the former, I don’t know how relevant it is to refer to actors as “busts.” They weren’t drafted in the first round and they weren’t given big contracts before playing in the big leagues. If it’s the latter – which is far less likely considering Reilly’s typically PG-rated fare – I could think of a dozen well-endowed starlets that would make for a better joke. (There’s Pamela Anderson, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayak, Jennifer Tilly, Catherine Bell, just to name a few.)

Then there’s this attempt at humor, referencing Cutler’s regular blood tests, which require him to prick his fingers over and over…

What Cutler wants to be is a normal QB, but he never will be. From now on, he’ll have more holes than a Jessica Simpson movie.

Really? More holes than a Jessica Simpson movie? Reilly can’t find another “actress” to kick around. Simpson hasn’t been in a major motion picture in two years (2006’s “Employee of the Month”), which I haven’t seen. She was in “Dukes of Hazzard” in 2005, but I don’t really remember it being filled with plot holes. (It was just a bad, bad movie.)

Maybe Reilly should take a shot at Kate Hudson, who has been in no fewer than six horrid romantic comedies in the last five years. I’m thinking of “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” “Alex & Emma,” “Raising Helen,” “You, Me & Dupree,” “Fool’s Gold” and “My Best Friend’s Girl.” If you’re a big-wig Hollywood studio exec and you’re about to greenlight a bad rom-com, Kate Hudson should be on speed dial.

This is just a case of Rick Reilly trying to be Bill Simmons. He thinks that if he shoehorns some pop culture reference in as a joke that it will make his stuff seem fresh and funny. But it just makes him look tired.

He should stick to the sappy, sentimental stuff. The world only has one Bill Simmons, and that’s plenty.

Rick Reilly plays fantasy football with Barack Obama

I’ve been meaning to post something about Rick Reilly’s new gig, but I just haven’t been able to find an angle that didn’t make me sound like a hater. Based on what I’ve read of his work, I’m not really sure how he got to where he is. I guess I should take notes, however, because the guy has my dream job.

Last year, he signed a big deal with ESPN the Mag to become its back page columnist. I have read just about every one of those columns and have come away unimpressed.

Now he has a piece where he describes flying to Dayton, Ohio to pick his weekly (salary cap) fantasy football team with none other than Barack Obama.

Now, The Scores Report is apolitical, but let’s just say I would have jumped at this opportunity.

It’s a good read, especially for those voters out there that like their Presidents to be sports fans.

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