The views expressed in this post are exclusively mine and do not reflect the views of Acme Packing Company. That is, unless Brandon pops in and says he agrees with me.
Before he left Sports Illustrated for ESPN for approximately eleventy billion dollars, Rick Reilly was (supposedly) one of the most beloved sports columnists in America. I never found his work to be particularly fantastic, but I didn't actively dislike the guy either. I thought he was a slightly above-average columnist who occasionally made some good jokes and occasionally missed the mark. That's fine, everyone who writes as much as Reilly is off-base once in a while.
Of course, this was when he was at Sports Illustrated. Since joining ESPN, I haven't found Reilly to be remotely likable on television and I feel like the quality of his writing has gone downhill. Maybe he's trying to play to a different audience now that he's on a site with Bill Simmons and the outrageous DJ Gallo, or maybe he's just gotten old and he's out of touch with most of society. In any event, he posted a column today that, in my mind, cemented his place in history as an absolute melter.
Apparently, every neutral football fan in America should be rooting for the Packers. I (obviously) feel that this basic premise is defensible, being a massive Packers fan who absolutely loves this year's team. It's just the way he goes about making this argument that is absolutely inane, and at times, downright patronizing to Packers fans and residents of the Green Bay metropolitan area.
I don't write Haterade blog posts for every columnist I disagree with, though I would love to see a Fire Joe Morgan re-birth happen, even if Joe Morgan has alreadly, in fact, been fired.This is just so beyond absurd that I can't help it. Plus, it doesn't hurt that Reilly writes absolute drivel all the time.
At one point in school, a teacher told me to lead with my strongest point. Others have told me that you hit the home run at the end, but screw it. I'm going to start with the number one reason why this column is offensive to me and Reilly is a massive tool.
For those of you who don't know, Green Bay is a real town. Yes, it's most famous for the Packers. Yes, a massive part of the city's identity would go away if the Packers weren't there. Yes, most of the people in the town live and die with the Packers and bleed green and gold. However, this does not mean that they are not real businesses employing real people with real lives.
I have lots of friends and family in the Green Bay area. Believe it or not, there are things that they do other than watch football. They go to work every day, pay their mortgages, fix up their houses, garden, spend time with their friends and families, exercise, play tennis, golf, go to concerts, and go on vacations. Just like you.
We are not a bunch of inbred hicks who have nothing better to do than talk about and watch football, as much as we love the game and our Packers. We have lives. Reilly's column is insanely patronizing and paints people from the Green Bay area as less than what they actually are, which is normal human beings.
Another one of my least favorite things about this column is that Reilly probably wrote it three weeks ago. After all, it would have been (barely) passable if the Packers were going up against any of the other AFC playoff teams. Then the Steelers won the AFC Championship. It kind of feels like he thought about whether or not he wanted to run it for a week, and then he said "eff it" and turned it into his editor anyway. I don't blame him if that's what happened, he already had the column done. All work and no play makes Rick a dull boy.
The reason Reilly could have run this column if the Packers were playing any other team, but shouldn't have ran it under current circumstances is that 90% of the likable qualities he attaches to the Packers also apply to the Steelers. This is apparent to anyone who has ever met anyone from Pittsburgh. Seeing as Reilly is a nationally famous sports writer in his 50s, I am going to assume that he has met multiple Steelers fans from Pittsburgh and that he's well aware of this.
It's possible that Reilly is not well informed on this matter and that he's completely unaware that Pittsburgh is the biggest small town on earth. It's possible that he doesn't know that the Steelers' fan base is just as rabid and loyal as the Packers' fan base. It's possible that Reilly wrote the column hoping that the Jets would get to the Super Bowl, then decided to run it anyway when that didn't happen. It's also possible that Reilly is none of the aforementioned things, but instead, is a massive troll.
Reilly was a professional sports writer 35 years before modern "trolling" as we know it was invented, but people have been writing newspaper and magazine articles solely for the purpose of getting a rise out of people for centuries. I've never met the guy, so I don't know if that's his style, but it wouldn't be shocking at all. If that was, indeed, Reilly's intent, he's an ass. ESPN doesn't sign him to a $10 million contract to troll people, I presume. They probably signed him to that giant contract under the assumption that he was going to be witty, on occasion. Trolling is something that 14 year olds do.
So, at least one of the following three things is true.
- Rick Reilly is an idiot
- Rick Reilly is lazy
- Rick Reilly is a troll
Which is least offensive? I can't even decide. In any event, Reilly is offensive and generally bad at his job. Honestly, if point one or two is correct, Reilly shouldn't be making $10 million over five years to write for ESPN, obviously. If point three is correct, I regret paying the troll toll and I think we would all appreciate it if he would step back from the keyboard and crawl back under his bridge.