bill nack-sports illustrated

In the long and brilliant history of Sports Illustrated, the magazine has employed few writers better than Bill Nack, who died Friday at age 77.

Nack joined SI in 1978 and worked there through 2001, covering numerous subjects but specializing above all in horse racing. His 1990 piece on Secretariat, memorably titled “Pure Heart,” is regarded as one of the best in SI history. In an interview about the story published a few years ago in honor of the magazine’s 60th birthday, Nack said he was more proud of that story than any other. The response to it, he said, was “astonishing.”

“Guys I’d never heard from [told me they loved it],” he said. “[SI managing editor Mark] Mulvoy said they had 400 some odd letters. He said, “I’ve never read letters like this.” People were weepy.”

In addition to his work for SI, Nack authored three books about horse racing, including one on Secretariat. Later in his life, he freelanced for publications including ESPN and GQ.

After news of Nack’s death broke Saturday, many of the biggest names in sports media, including Sports Illustrated greats past and present, tweeted tributes.

RIP, Bill Nack.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.