Rick Reilly is one of the most celebrated sportswriters of my lifetime. He’s the guy who writes the back-page column for whatever magazine he works for. He’s been voted National Sportswriter of the Year eleven times.

More critical acclaim, from his own bio page:

He is the winner of the 2009 Damon Runyon Award for Outstanding Contributions to Journalism, an honor previously won by Jimmy Breslin, Tim Russert, Bob Costas, Mike Royko, George Will, Ted Turner and Tom Brokaw, among others. Three times his columns have been read into the record in the U.S. Congress.

He is “the Tiger Woods of sports columnists,” says Bloomberg News.

As for his sports writing, the New York Daily News called him “one of the funniest humans on the planet.” Publishers Weekly called him, “an indescribable amalgam of Dave Barry, Jim Murray, and Lewis Grizzard, with the timing of Jay Leno and the wit of Johnny Carson.”

He is, in a word, impressive.

He’s also one of the worst, most unpleasant writers I’ve ever read. In content alone, he’s mean-spirited, self-satisfied, sanctimonious, painfully unfunny (oh yeah, and still mean-spirited), and flat out lame. When you get past his pathetic attempts to adopt the Sports Guy’s style (with more faux-authority and far less authenticity), you find out that he’s just a giant smarmy douchebag. Oh yeah, and he’s also technically terrible. Purple prose, painful metaphors, hyperbole at every turn.

It’s kind of astounding to read his columns and then his C.V. and try to reconcile the two. Am I the only one who is flabbergasted by his accolades? Or what am I missing?

(For the record, I like Bill Simmons.)

Edit: Apparently I’m not alone. And there’s even this.

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