By Matt Miller firstname.lastname@example.org
Picking Reilly’s brain
ESPN’s Rick Reilly will present ‘My Mulligan Life’ on Feb. 18 at the Iowa Events Center
Award-winning columnist and author Rick Reilly will visit the Iowa Events Center on Feb. 18 to share some of his most distinguished sports memories. For more than 30 years, Reilly has had the fortune to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain; bicycled with Lance Armstrong; flew upside down at 600 mph in an F-14 and more. He is best known for his Sports Illustrated column, “Life of Reilly,” and he has been voted National Sportswriter of the Year 11 times. Reilly spoke with Cityview last week via telephone. Here are some of his thoughts surrounding today’s sports.
Q: Have you visited Des Moines before?
A: I’ve been so many places it’s hard to remember, but yes, I have been to Des Moines. I came through when I was working with Kurt Warner for our “Homecoming” show on ESPN. Doesn’t Des Moines have an arena football team? The Barnstormers, right?
Q: What are some of your fondest memories as a sportswriter?
A: My No. 1 sports moment was seeing Jack Nicklaus win his sixth Masters at Augusta, Ga. Everyone thought he was too old to win, and he couldn’t even see his last putt because of the tears in his eyes. It was madness — it was incredible. Another favorite memory was when Jim Valvano’s N.C. State Wolfpack beat the Houston Cougars in the 1983 NCAA National Championship game. I’ve never heard anything as loud in my career as that night in Albuquerque, N.M. One other favorite of mine was being courtside for all those games with Michael Jordan doing his thing on the court. He would make the hinges of your jaw come unglued. He would just seem to rise above the rim.
Q: What was it like writing a column for back page for Sports Illustrated?
A: It was the greatest place to have a column for 800 words. It was hard to come up with ideas though — my editor and I would come up with 20 ideas per week, and then we would narrow it down to 10, down to five and then find out that three were terrible. Finally we would choose between the remaining two. People either loved it or hated it, but Sports Illustrated readers are so loyal, they would never miss it.
Q: What do you enjoy about your career?
A: I often ask myself this question. Once I’ve written something and it’s affected someone’s life, it’s well worth it. It gives me a sense of pride you can’t find many other places.
Q: Have you ever been nervous for an interview?
A: It was 1986, and Jack Nicklaus had just won the Masters. During the interview, they wanted me to ask Jack, ‘We hear you’re broke, is that right?’ I didn’t want to ask that question; I wanted to worship his shoes, the ground he was walking on. He’s ‘The Golden Bear’ for Christ’s sake. Jack said, ‘Son, come with me,’ and we went into the champions’ locker room. I could barely hear him give me an answer because my knees were knocking so loud. I was in awe.
Q: Who do you think will win this year’s Super Bowl?
A: The Packers and Steelers are arguably the best two franchises in the game — I love the matchup. It’s a football orgasm of awesomeness. There’s Ben Roethlisberger, who came back from a four-game suspension, against Aaron Rodgers, who thought he would never be given a chance. I think the Packers win 20-17 behind Rodger’s arm. He’s hot right now and will bring the Vince Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay. CV
Caption: Rick Reilly will visit the Iowa Events Center on Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. Tickets are $102 at the Wells Fargo Arena Ticket Office, all Dahl’s Foods locations or at www.dahlstickets.com. Photo courtesy of ESPN