A Long Run Ends

Peter King, the longtime NFL reporter, lays down his pen.

I had this thought a couple of weeks ago, during Super Bowl week in Las Vegas: I’d really like to watch the Super Bowl on TV. You always want what you don’t have, right? I’ve been to 40 Super Bowls in a row, and every year when people talk about the commercials or the mistakes made by the TV crew or the hubbub surrounding the game, mostly I have no idea what they’re talking about, because from age 27 to age 66 (now), I’ve been in the stadium for the games, and worked the locker rooms and coaches’ offices afterward.

Who’s complaining? Not me. I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth. To be a long-termer in an increasingly short-term business, to write this column for 27 years and to be a sportswriter for 44, well, that’s something I’ll always be grateful for. Truly, I’ve loved it all.

I’m retiring*. I use an asterisk because I truly don’t know what the future holds for me. I probably will work at something, but as I write this I have no idea what it will be. Maybe it will be something in the media world, but just not Football Morning in America (nee Monday Morning Quarterback).

Mr. King had a good run. He had a very good run. His panoply of relationships with coaches, athletes, league officials, and his fans, almost invariably positive, gave him a tremendous variety of scoops over the years, and his insatiable curiosity provided him with an eye for detail that no other sportswriter could imitate.

A fan could effectively follow the events transpiring in the league from week to week without ever even watching a game because his columns were so long and comprehensive. And with his retirement comes an end to the era of the four sports columnists I always regarded as the Big Four, Sid Hartman, Dr. Z, Don Banks, and Peter King.

His column will be missed, although I hope one day they will be bound together in what will necessarily have to be a multi-volume set for the benefit of future readers.

UPDATE: You know a man is a fundamentally decent man when those closest to him, who know him better than anyone else, are more than willing to praise him without reservation.

In taking all of these lessons and favors from Peter over the years, I’ve asked many times what I could do to repay him. His answer was always the same: He only wanted me to help someone else the way he was helping all of us. And that was always while he too kept helping, empowering, and more than anything, trusting all of us.