Denver-based sportswriter Rick Reilly, the punching bag of the sports blogosphere but a dean among old-school sports scribes, is touring America to promote his latest book, Sports from Hell. The book centers around Reilly cruising the world in search of bizarre competitions like ferret-legging and chess-boxing -- "not bad work if you can get it," as Reilly said at the Tattered Cover last night.
In his latest ESPN.com column, Reilly calls the subsequent book-touring "brutal" and "bizarre." But his stop on Colfax was fun and, at times, damn funny.
Reilly packed the bookstore basement with fawning fans, his two sons, his newish wife and some old friends, and he seemed happy to have his own bed in his immediate future. His spiel, while studded with some worn-out material -- in the Twitter Era, I think the Tiger-bulging-disc joke was stale even before its first utterance -- felt for the most part fresh and meandering, just they way they should.
He actually read very little from the book -- which it turns out is a wonderful way to promote a piece of non-fiction. Rather than trying to sound cool reading himself -- which he likened, rather accurately, to eating his own puked-up lunch -- he mostly just recounted stories from his trips around the world. (Seriously, this was a Madoffian snow job he pulled on Doubleday: He rolled down ski slopes in a plastic ball in New Zealand and even did naked bike-racing in Australia, despite there being naked bike-racing in both of Reilly's cities of residence, here and LA).
For Denver fans, the Q and A that followed was the highlight: Asked about George Karl's health, Reilly veered into a killer rant about the overflowing ignorance of J.R. Smith and the general meltdown of the Nuggets.
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Asked about Tim Tebow, he went off about "McGenius." "He hasn't done a single thing right," Reilly said, before reciting a laundry list of what he perceives as whiffs by the coach: trading Jay Cutler, trading Brandon Marshall, drafting Tebow, and so on. Yet fans, he said, have somehow been convinced that all that Jesus in Tebow's heart is going to help him throw an NFL out route.
"This isn't the Fellowship of Christian Athletes," Reilly said. "This is the National Fucking Football League."
After the Q and A, Reilly endured what, let's be honest, has to be a hellish experience once you've done it a few hundred times: signing scores of books for fawning strangers. It's probably especially shitty in your hometown, since everyone's met you at the grocery store or the bar or the sidelines of your kid's soccer game, and you have to pretend like you care. But pretend Reilly did, and pretty damn well, to his credit.