Exclusive: Sports Illustrated’s Peter King
LOS ANGELES, April 27, 2014 — Of all the people not employed by the National Football League, nobody is as important to the game of football as Peter King.
For those who want to praise or criticize his political stances, he is not the Congressman from New York.
This Peter King writes for Sports Illustrated, and has been covering the NFL for over a quarter of a century. He may be the only man who writes a column of over 10,000 words that is a must-read from beginning to end. His weekly “Monday Morning Quarterback” is the gold standard for NFL junkies. While he does spend a few words expressing his love for coffee and beer, the rest of column is pure football. He gets deep enough for leather heads but is as readable for football novices.
King almost always gets the story right, and on the rare occasion he is proven wrong, it is because nobody could have gotten it right. Even Brett Favre had no idea what Brett Favre was going to do.
Despite his respected status as the preeminent football columnist, King never makes himself the story. It is always about the players and coaches who make up the league.
King also gives a voice to the literally voiceless. When he is on vacation, he has some of the very best inspirational football people write their version of MMQB. Steve Gleason’s piece about coping with ALS is as meaningful as it gets.
When asked who his football heroes were, King showed off his encyclopedic knowledge of the game he loves. He started with New York Giants tight end Bob Tucker. He then offered Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants quarterback Fran Tarkenton. King turned poignant by offering another football hero, the late Brian Piccolo of the Chicago Bears. Piccolo died of cancer at age 26, and his friendship with teammate Gale Sayers was the inspiration behind the tearjerker “Brian’s Song.”
King’s heroes outside of football were still in the world of sports. The Boston Red Sox inspired King with catcher Carl Yazstremski and pitcher Jim Lonborgh. Hockey great Bobby Orr rounded out his list.
When asked how he wanted to be remembered, King was as specific as he was sincere. He wants to be known as a guy who “told the truth, worked really hard, and enjoyed the ability to take people where they never thought they could go in the world of football.”
PeterKing has already succeeded in this vein. His MMQB is the written equivalent of the peek behind the camera into the locker room of football. He presents the agony of defeat, the height of ecstasy from victory, and the intense preparation, desire and hard work that goes into every moment of football from the draft through the Super Bowl. Football is poetry in motion, and King brings the prose.
When asked what advice he would give to somebody entering the world of football for the first time, King offered sage advice. “Be ready to be knocked down. If you truly love it, you will keep getting back up.
Quarterbacks get belted to the ground and then throw the winning touchdown. Sportswriters get chewed out by testy coaches who then turn around and give them great quotes over a beverage.
We all get knocked down from time to time. For those who truly love football, shake off the bruises of Sunday game day football and start the recovery Monday morning with MMQB.