Goodbye, ESPN.com; hello, SI.com

So after about 2 1/2 years of writing for ESPN.com, I’ve jumped ship, returning to my old Sports Illustrated haunting ground to write a regular Friday column for SI.com.

I wish I had exciting details to report, but, really, I don’t. I loved writing for ESPN.com—my editors were cool, the exposure was fantastic, the pay, well, eh, hmm—my editors were cool.

Unfortunately, like most places these days, ESPN has been struggling. This is just my take, but it seems the network/website/magazine became obsessed with adding every big journalism name out there. So it started unloading tons and tons of money on the Rick Reillys of the business. Rick, of course, is a wonderful talent. But what have they done with him? At some point, ESPN seemed to be hiring for the sake of hiring. They treated journalists in the way sports organizations treat players—gobbling up “free agents” without much thought. Now, they’re loaded with big names, but is the finished product that much better? Probably not.

I, for one, was never a big name at ESPN. Hell, I didn’t even have a contract. I was paid per column, at a pretty inexpensive clip. But when the site was told to reduce expenses, well, I saw that the end was near; that my end was near.

So I left.

Truthfully, I’m happy to be back at SI. I loved working for ESPN, but I never loved ESPN. It was sorta like playing for the Yankees against Kansas City. Too big, too powerful, too rich, too overwhelming. I think I’d rather help the upstart (in this case, SI’s website) kick ass.

Hence, here I am. Column starts next Friday …

5 thoughts on “Goodbye, ESPN.com; hello, SI.com”

  1. Jeff, you may delete this but here goes.. Rick Reilly has become a joke. I used to love his SI columns and his book Missing Links is still one of my favorites. But the guy has been done for a good decade and while my friends all enjoy writers like you and Simmons and Olney, we all look at Reilly like the guy who graduated twenty years ago but still hangs around the frat houses. Everything he writes is a puff piece or an outdated discussion. In his last column, he talked about beer pong like it’s this new phenomenon. I half-expected him to start rambling on about Murphy Brown. My point is this: If ESPN is putting its resources in Rick Reilly and similar washed up big names, it’s doing a disservice to its readers. I learn more reading your columns or Gene W’s or Adande’s or Jackson’s and I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking ESPN should reevaluate how it spends its resources. I wish you all the luck in the world at SI. It’s a shame ESPN chose name over talent.

  2. Congratulations on moving over to SI.com and I look forward to reading your columns there. I agree with the thought that ESPN buys up the free agents and then has nothing for them to do or at least misuses them in some fashion. Can’t wait to see what you do for SI.com.

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