JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

John Rocker, 10 years later

rocker1

Tonight, I’m sitting here in the Mirage Diner writing a freelance piece on the 10-year anniversary of my John Rocker profile.

It’s weird. Ten years. Sounds like a long time. Is packed with monumental life moments: Got married. Had my daughter, Casey. Had my son, Emmett. Promoted at Sports Illustrated to senior writer. Left SI for Newsday. Left Newsday to write books. Moved from New York City to suburbia. Friends came, friends went. My Grandma Mollie died. We got a dog. Etc …

I babble. Am using much material for the story, so I won’t post it here. But one funny memory that I thought of earlier tonight. The Rocker story ran in the December 27, 1999 issue of Sports Illustrated. The cover, for those who might know SI covers well (as I did as a kid) was THE 50 GREATEST SPORTS FIGURES from every state. Three of us—myself, Steve Cannella and Mark Bechtel—spent weeks upon weeks compiling that damn thing. I mean, it absolutely s-u-c-k-e-d in every way, shape and form.

Anyhow, the powers that be at SI had very high expectations for the issue, and even took the uncommon step of hiring an outside PR firm to handle the avalanche of media requests. Steve, Mark and I were briefed on what to expect; what would be asked; etc.

Then, the Rocker story broke.

When the issue hit stands, I received, oh, between 200-500 interview requests, RE: John Rocker (I only did one, at the insistence of SI, with WFAN).

Requests to talk about 50 states? One—from an AM radio station in Utah.