Peter King, the popular veteran NFL writer, started the Monday Morning Quarterback website nearly three years ago. The site was announced in early 2013, and it rolled out in the summer of 2013. His deal with the website is up at the end of this season, and the biggest media rumor in NFL press boxes the last two weeks has been: Is Peter King bailing on the MMQB?
So I texted King this week to ask about the scuttlebutt, and he called me a few minutes later. Polite as ever, but sounding tired after a radio interview, he spoke glowingly about the site – “I love my job, it’s the best job of anyone in the media” – but admitted the workload is heavy.
“Three years ago, I was writing Monday Morning Quarterback, and two columns, and going on NBC Sunday nights,” King, 58, said. “Now, on top of that, I’m running a website, and it is clearly a bigger job than I had before. I hate to be vague, but I don’t know what I’m going to do yet.”
The always-angry internet will pounce on that and spin it into King whining, but it’s no easy task to be a must-read NFL writer who occasionally breaks news, travels to games, runs a website and appears on TV weekly.
Those who know King well say this feels like Howard Stern’s recent situation with Sirius, which went down to the wire, but was resolved amicably, pleasing everyone involved. Sirius, Stern’s staff, and his legion of listeners all exhaled.
The difference here is that King could still write his Monday Morning QB column, and two more columns, and go on TV … he just wouldn’t have to run a website, manage staff, deal with budgets, P&L reports, advertisers, etc. No longer being the face of the site would obviously hurt it, and one industry source even speculated his departure could be the “death knell” for Sports Illustrated, given how successful it has been. But we heard that before when Rick Reilly left for ESPN.
And all of that makes you wonder – given how many stand-alone websites led by media “stars” have failed, would King be smart to bail? Joe Posnanski’s Sports on Earth, Rob Neyer’s Just a Bit Outside, and Grantland by Bill Simmons all arrived with much fanfare, but ended up getting shut down for one reason or another. [Ed. A scaled down version of SOE still exists.] Jason Whitlock’s Undefeated still exists, but he’s no longer at the helm.
Sports Illustrated started a college football stand-alone site – Campus Rush – this Fall, and while it has quickly become a site loaded with information nuggets, it isn’t built around a media star.