So we decided to get all journalisticky upon hearing the Rick Reilly news, and emailed around to see what the chatter was about why the most famous sports journalist was leaving the one-time sports bible, and where he was going. The answer is simple: the lure of ESPN got to him. We hear Reilly is going to Sports Illustrated’s bitter rival, ESPN, and he’ll start in June of 2008 (as Steve Rushin had when he left SI earlier this year, Reilly has a non-compete clause). It didn’t take much to sell Reilly on one of those cushy TV-Magazine packages, but our sources don’t think he’ll be writing for the .com. Apparently, the jury’s still out on whether or not he’s getting his own TV show. What does Bill Simmons think of this arrangement? Supposedly he’s cool with it – but only because Reilly won’t be writing online, which is the niche Simmons has carved out as his own. Where it could get interesting is if the network’s new show, E:60, is a hit. Will they want to add Reilly to the cast of characters?
[Update: For any doubters out there, the New York Times has confirmed what we had last night: Reilly to ESPN. What the Times doesn’t have are salary numbers. People tend to get worked into an unnecessary frenzy over salaries, but a source tells us that SI’s top offer was in the neighborhood of $1.5 million annually, while ESPN’s was closer to $2 million.]