Editor's note: We asked people from the sports world what story in Rick Reilly's 36-year writing career they remembered the most and why. The answers show something of the hearts of those who responded, as well as some of Reilly's greatest efforts. Like you, over the years, they cried, they laughed and they were amazed at the people he introduced to us.
Fear and love bring out the best in writers and Rick is no different. The piece on Jim Murray provided a glimpse into Rick's deep admiration toward his idol. Conversely, the piece on his alcoholic father was a voyage into Rick's childhood. The fears of a little boy and hearing those metal golf shoes on the house steps. The darkness of childhood and how it affects us and never leaves. I cried reading it. That's powerful and that's rare. That's Rick.
Rick's " silent treatment" article is one that sticks out to me when I reflect back on what he has written over the years. Only Rick Reilly would think of watching football with a couple of professional lip-readers. I probably wish I wasn't one of the quarterbacks that he watched play that day and was not proud of the language that the lip-readers saw I was using in that game. As I said in the article, I knew my mom was going to be disappointed when the story came out. But it was a pretty clever idea for an article by an outstanding writer.
It was just one example of the creativity that he always had in his articles, and it's a reason why Rick Reilly is truly one of a kind as a writer.
His feature on Dale Murphy was ridiculously sublime. Rick had just come to SI, but I instantly knew that we had just hired one of the finest sports writers in America.
When the cynicism of sports weighs you down like cinder blocks tied to your ankles, read this column about a father who found strength in his son. It gets me every time.
I always loved it when Rick would write outside the box, give you something other writers might not try. He did a hilarious, touching one about his son. I loved it.
Now that I'm a parent, it rings truer than ever.
My favorite column of Rick's is this 1998 piece on Hirofumi Nakajima, "The Black Hole of Kofu," who at the time was the world champion of competitive eating. I had the privilege of joining Rick as he interviewed Nakajima on the rooftop of an office building in Kofu, Japan, and what I witnessed there were two voracious omnivores who were the best in the world at their respective crafts. One used a fork, the other a pen, but they had the same ambition in life: to leave a clean plate.