Peter King Nov 3, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; American sportswriter Peter King at Kansas City Chiefs press conference at DFB Campus. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Legendary sportswriter Peter King announced his retirement this week after decades being one of the most influential sports media members in the industry.

King was a household name at Sports Illustrated, even as the publication moved beyond its halcyon print days and digital media took over. He then moved to NBC Sports where he continued writing his signature Monday columns every week while also appearing on the network’s television coverage of the NFL.

Tributes poured in from across the sports media world to King this week as there may not be another figure like him in the future. While we all seem to gravitate towards reporters breaking scoops or pundits giving takes, the idea of a well-connected columnist penning 10,000 word epics each week from all of his sources and contacts across the sport seems to be passing us by.

But in an appearance with Maggie Gray and Andrew Perloff on CBS Sports Radio, King also opened up not just about his successes, but about his failures as well. He shared his biggest regret from his career surrounding his reporting into DeflateGate and the New England Patriots.

“I confirmed the ESPN story about the deflated footballs after DeflateGate first hit the scene. It was a Monday night and I called two people who I was sure would know exactly what happened. And they both confirmed the ESPN story, and so I wrote it, talked about it, and it turns out I was wrong,” King said.

“And that brought me a lot of shame. That really bothers me to this day that I was wrong, because it doesn’t matter who I talked to, it doesn’t matter who told me anything. It’s my rear end on the line when I say something, when I confirm a story. And I was wrong. And that is something that will haunt me, really. It bothers me, literally bothers me to this day,” King added.

King made a high-profile error in his reporting and even offered a letter of resignation to his bosses at Sports Illustrated about it back in 2015. King has always been very apologetic about the mistake, even as it led observers to question whether he was too close to the league that he covers. And sure, that level of access that King gave to readers from every level of the NFL was one of the reasons why his work stood the test of time and was so unique.

However, the fact that the controversy surrounding DeflateGate genuinely still seems to stick with Peter King all these years later, even after the entire sports media industry paid tribute to what a titanic figure he was, shows how seriously he took his work covering the NFL and the truth and accuracy of his reporting.

[Maggie and Perloff]