Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It Really Pays To Be Rick Reilly

He's got 10 million reasons to smile

When it was announced a few days ago that Sports Illustrated superstar columnist Rick Reilly was bolting the magazine after 23 years to become a multi-platform icon at ESPN, Reilly made it clear it was pretty much a money thing. Oh, and the fact that he'd get to be on TV a whole bunch didn't hurt either.
But as Keith Kelly reports in the New York Post, it was truly, madly, deeply about the dough-re-mi. Reilly is reportedly pulling in $2 million a year for five years, doubling what he was making at SI. His soon-to-be-former employer had offered $1.5 million. But then there was that TV thing. Seems appearing on just wasn't enough to satisfy his video jones.
So off to ESPN he goes, just as soon as his non-compete expires June 1. And he's departing in spite of once bearing some ill will toward his new employer, whom he told Gelf Magazine read his columns a little too closely.

GM: You mention in the book [Hate Mail From Cheerleaders and Other Adventures From the Life of Reilly, a compilation of his columns] that ESPN has ripped off some of your column ideas. Have you ever complained about it? Why do you think that's such a regular practice in Bristol?

RR: I feel like I've flat-out handed them five or six Emmys. They take columns I've discovered and written—about people nobody's heard of—and do them as though they found the guy, and then they win Emmys for them. The Jake Porter column. The "picking up Butch" column. The Katrina-survivor basketball column. It's endless. And what bothers me, I guess, is that they give no credit, such as, "as first reported in Sports Illustrated." Or at least do one of their treacly, misty shots of the column. But what can you do? Sue? [Editor's Note: In response, an ESPN spokesman tells Gelf, "We learn of story concepts from a wide range of sources and outlets."]

Funny how $10 million can get you to feel differently. That's Reilly you hear laughing all the way to the bank.

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