Rick Reilly's tenure at ESPN has been gobbled up by critics the way hungry sharks eat buckets of fish heads. Aside from the belief that his work isn't the same standard as it was in his Sports Illustrated days, there have been countless episodes that have been high profile blunders for one of the highest paid sportswriters in the nation.
He got caught trying to gain credit for breaking a story on Twitter when that really wasn't the case.
He's taken satirical statements and put them in his columns as fact.
He was called out for misquoting a subject in a controversial story about the Redskins nickname. The subject just happened to be his own father-in-law.
And that's not to mention the other times he's had to wipe egg off his face for blustery predictions gone horribly wrong.
In spite of all of that bad press, ESPN was happy to re-sign Rick Reilly to a new contract last year in a move that befuddled critics and observers. ESPN's original multi-million dollar agreement with Reilly (reported at $3 million dollars per year) was already panned as a free agent flop that should go down in history alongside the likes of Jon Koncak. And yet, instead of cutting their losses ESPN decided to double down on Rick Reilly.
One could argue they're now getting what they deserve for paying Reilly millions while laying off hundreds of others – recycled vats of hot garbage.
As first brought to light by Deadspin, Rick Reilly's most recent column based on fictional characters talking amongst themselves about Kevin Stadler's PGA Tour win in Phoenix (seriously, that's what his column is about) contains some striking similarities to a column he wrote after Lucas Glover won the 2009 US Open. Here's just some of the examples of the copy and paste job with bold emphasis added…
2009: "If I won a U.S. Freaking Open, I'd go absolutely electroshock, three-alarm, bat-guano nuts!"
2014: "My point is, if I'd just won $1.1 million zops in a PGA Goddang Tour event, forget about my first win in 239 tries, I'd go absolutely electro-shock, three-alarm, bat-guano nuts!"
2009: "If this were football, the guy would be doing the electric chicken right in front of the other team's bench…"
2014: "If this was the NFL, he'd be twerking in front of the other team's bench!"
2009: "I'd pick up the flagstick and fire it like a Tommy gun at the crowd."
2014: "I'd pick up the flagstick and fire it like a Tommy gun at the crowd."
2009: "I'd take my 3-iron out and have my caddie kneel before me and I'd knight him like I was the queen."
2014: "I'd take my 3-iron and knight my caddy like I was the queen!"
Apparently Rick Reilly thinks the line "bat-guano nuts" is GOLD. And those are only the most egregious examples, there are many others from the same column too. I don't know where self-plagiarism ranks on journalistic crimes, but this is just unabashedly lazy regardless. Did Reilly think nobody would notice? Did he just mail it in thinking nobody would read a column about Kevin Stadler? (Actually that sounds pretty logical.)
It's not like this is the first time Reilly has been caught reusing his old material, though. There are several other examples just from his ESPN tenure alone of him copying and pasting old bits of prose into new columns. Are these hackish qualities really the standard of the self-proclaimed "worldwide leader in sports"? Does ESPN think it's getting its money's worth out of Rick Reilly? At what point do his editors and bosses step in and actually demand better from one of the faces of ESPN.com?
ESPN is paying Rick Reilly a boatload of money for old recycled jokes that aren't even funny. And they say our government is wasteful with its spending! Yeesh.