Jeff Pearlman

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Articles

Dating back to my time as an editor at the University of Delaware’s student newspaper, The Review, I’ve probably written, oh, 3,000 articles of different sorts. Some have been 300 words. Some have been 7,500 words. It’s one of the great joys of my career—the unique pleasure of delving into a topic, learning all you can, then trying to put the information into words. It can drive a guy crazy, but the pleasure exceeds the pain (mostly). Here are some of the things I’ve worked on that I’m most proud of:
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Why You Really Hate Tom Brady

Bleacher Report October 4, 2016. My editor called and said, “What can we write about Tom Brady?” I had no idea—so I suggested a piece on why so many people seem to loathe the guy. Bingo! Calls to Styx’s lead singer, the owner of the Lakers, a WWE superstar and the creator of “Entourage” ensued. A joy to write.
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Why Bo Chose Baseball

Bleacher Report September 29, 2016. As a kid, I absolutely loved Bo Jackson. He remains the greatest athlete of my lifetime; an unparalleled merging of power, grace and intelligence. I pitched the idea of going back in time to figure out why, 30 years earlier, he chose baseball over football.
Jeff Pearlman

Hoop Dream? Dream On.

Sports Illustrated June 10, 1996. This was my first-ever appearance in Sports Illustrated. At the time I was a high school wrestling writer for the Tennessean in Nashville, desperately trying to land my dream gig. The editors at SI suggested I pitch some ideas. After my first two were rejected, I said, “You know, when I was in college I applied for the NBA Draft.” Bingo.
Dylan Favre

Dylan Favre’s Roller-Coaster Life in Uncle Brett’s Shadow

Bleacher Report October 22, 2014. So I had recently started working on my book about Brett Favre, and learned he had a nephew playing college football at UT-Martin. I thought, “Hmm, that’s pretty interesting.” I flew down and met one of the coolest people out there. A joy to write and report.
84 USA Hockey Team

A Miracle Put on Ice: Four years after the ‘Miracle on Ice,’ the 1984 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team never had a chance.

SB Nation February 4, 2014. I know little about hockey. Very little. But when SB Nation started asking around for Winter Olympic-themed stories, one idea immediately jumped into my skull. I still remember being 11-years old in 1984, excited for the U.S. hockey team to bring forth another miracle. Little did I know, they had absolutely no chance. For this piece, I was able to travel back in time to my childhood and find out why.
Willie Williams Photograph

The Tragic Story of Willie Williams, College Football’s First Celebrity Recruit

Bleacher Reporter February 4, 2014. I’d never heard of Willie Williams, though once my memory was jarred I did recall his ill-advised Miami Herald recruiting diary. For this story, I jumped into the ugly, callous world of Florida high school football, where kids are slabs of meat and problems are pushed to the side. Willie Williams is in prison—but he is far from the only guilty party.
Jovan Belcher Photograph

A Year After Jovan Belcher’s Final Act, Friends Offer Clues to Tragic Downfall

Bleacher Report. November 26, 2013. I received a call in the late months of 2013 from an editor at Bleacher Report, asking if I had any interest in digging into the Jovan Belcher tragedy. “OK,” I said—not knowing what to expect from the piece, and from Bleacher Report (I’d never written for the site before). Well, it turned into an experience I’ll never forget. First, because the whole tragedy was so heartbreaking; Second, because more than a million people read it; Third, because it began a relationship with Bleacher Report that I still relish.
Arnold Sports

You Think Roger Goodell Has Muscle: Attendees at the Arnold Sports Festival May Not be Able to Banish a 3,00-Pound Offensive Tackle, but Plenty of them Could Bench-Press One. At the Citadel of Strength, Acolytes Worship—and Vendors Peddle—Power in its Purest Form.

Sports Illustrated. March 11, 2013. In 2013 Sports Illustrated sent me to Columbus, Ohio to cover The Arnold Classic. Hands down, the weirdest event I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. If you love steroids, this was your place. If you love muscles atop muscles, also your place. If you love oddballs and quirks and carnivals, well—Bingo!
Tyler Ugolyn

Picture this Perfect: Tyler Ugolyn Went From Being a Face on a Missing-Person Flyer To a Friend You Wish You’d Met

Sports Illustrated. September 24, 2001. This is the one piece of writing I’m probably most attached to. The assignment came right after the 9.11 terrorist attacks, and the last thing I thought Sports Illustrated should be doing is putting out a magazine. Sports, after, all, was 100% trivial at the time. Hell, I lived about a mile from the World Trade Center; watched the first building burn and saw the second plane approach. I hated that we were doing an issue. Thought it was really, really bad taste. I was wrong. That Sports Illustrated goes down as my all-time favorite issue. The editor, Bill Colson, handled the whole thing with remarkable sensitivity. That’s why this article has stuck with me (I remain close with Tyler’s father, Victor). It was the right thing to do, and I was grateful to contribute.
Ricky Bell Photograph

Two Carries, Six Yards: When the Chargers acquired former No. 1 pick Ricky Bell in 1982, they were adding a valuable piece to the backfield. Two years later, he was dead.

SB Nation. August 20, 2013. As a kid, I was fascinated by Ricky Bell, the Buccaneers star tailback. Why? I’m not sure. His smile, perhaps. Maybe his Afro. His uniform. Again—not sure. But I remember when he was traded to the Chargers, I thought, “What? How is that possible?” Then, not long after, he was dead. I never knew much about it—and SB Nation gave me the chance to find out the details. I’m forever grateful.
John Rocker Photograph

At Full Blast: Shooting outrageously from the lip, Braves closer John Rocker bangs away at his favorite targets: the Mets, their fans, their city and just about everyone in it

Sports Illustrated. December 23, 1999. I spent several years running from this story. I felt guilty—had I done the right thing? Why was I getting so much attention? On and on. Then, about a decade ago, I found peace. John Rocker was a bigot. I was a reporter. My job wasn’t to protect him. It was to understand him. Wound up being the most important article of my career. And one, in hindsight, that brings me pride.
Collins and Resto Fight Photograph

Bare Knuckles: The night Billy Collins fought Luis Resto, something was terribly wrong with Resto’s gloves. The beating Collins took cost him his career—and maybe his life.

Sports Illustrated. October 26, 1998. I wrote “Bare Knuckles” in 1998, when I was a young scrub at Sports Illustrated trying to make myself known. I first learned of the saga of Billy Collins about three years earlier, when I was writing for The (Nashville) Tennessean. I had been covering a local boxing card when someone nearby said, “See the guest referee. That’s Billy Collins, Sr. And, boy, does he have a story …” This isn’t the best article I’ve written, as far as style or flow goes. But it meant something to me … the type of story most journalists long to tell.
Lyman Bostock Photograph

Fifth and Jackson: Thirty years ago at an intersection in Gary, Ind., budding major league star Lyman Bostock got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time

ESPN.com. September 23, 2008. Although I was only six when Lyman Bostock was murdered in Gary, Indiana, something about his saga always stuck with me. Hence, I was thrilled to write the following piece. This is probably as in-depth a story as I’ve ever written. It also happened to be very emotional, standing on the corner in Gary where he died.
Jacob Cruz Photograph

Mom’s the word

Newsday. April 5, 2005. Back in 2005, toward the end of my brief stay at Newsday, I was visiting the spring training clubhouse of the Cincinnati Reds when I struck up a conversation with a pitcher named Joe Valentine. We talked curveballs, college sports … and—to my great surprise—about his gay parents
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Brick Leads to Memories of Young Girl Long Dead

Patch. April 4, 20012. I originally pitched this story to Westchester Magazine, and the editors agreed to pay a small amount (maybe $400). Which was fine with me—it was one of those pieces I felt compelled to write. I explained the concept, told them what it’d entail, wrote it as I said I would—and, as soon as I turned in a photo showing a young African-American girl, the publication lost interest. Westchester Magazine likes to present an image of the county as a place where minorities rarely (and barely) exist, and the narrative seemed fine until it involved a poor black girl. I was livid, but ultimately thankful when Patch agreed to run it. This was never about the money, which is good. Because I was never paid a cent.
Showtime Book
Love Me, Hate Me Barry Bonds Book
Sweetness Walter Peyton Book
The Bad Guys Won Book
The Rocket that Fell to Earth Book
Boys Will Be Boys Book

Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life