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How Lance Armstrong Can Rekindle Rick Reilly’s Career

January 19, 2011

Sports Illustrated has a pretty huge story with supposedly new information that is potentially damning to Lance Armstrong. A long, long, long time denier of doping and steroid use (he doth protest too much, comes to mind), Armstrong’s before a federal grand jury this week to face allegations of doping and more.

Of course he vehemently denies any wrongdoing.

I’ve believed for a long time that Armstrong was doping. Granted I had zero evidence whatsoever, other than that I thought he was an asshole. I kind of hope they take all his Tour de France trophies/medals and melt them down into a hat for Sheryl Crow.

If it comes out that Armstrong used steroids, he’s going to catch a lot of heat. And a lot of that will be because he angrily denied it for so long (lying only makes it worse, kids). That said, he’ll probably still be loved for the good work he did do. And let’s face it, nobody here cares about cycling, so it will all blow over pretty fast, if, in fact, he did use steroids.

The one real question, for me anyway, is: How will Rick Reilly handle this?

If you don’t know, Reilly is a noted Armstrong fanboy. And as a guy who watches with glee as Lance get butt massages, I wonder if he’ll be able to bring himself to broach the subject. After all, if these two guys have such a good relationship, you’d think Reilly would be one of the few able to get a decent if it turns out Armstrong doped. And that would be journalistic gold. Do you think ESPN is pushing him to do this or have they just given up?

Anyway, I realize that this all lies in the hypothetical realm, as Armstrong has yet to be convicted of anything (though, considering the SI piece and the general doping culture of cycling, I’m inclined to believe it). But it will be fun for me to watch. Reilly has been staunchly against steroids, bringing it up at every chance he gets to slam Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds.

But Reilly felt slighted by Sosa and Bonds. By Sosa because he felt Sammy lied to him (he probably did, but in his defense, Reilly was being a dick…read the column), and by Bonds because Barry stood him up for an interview. (I think the actual column’s behind glass now)  Seriously, Reilly’s like a little girl. Anytime an athlete blows him off or doesn’t tell him the whole truth, or simply ignores him, he writes a snippy little column. It’s been suggested that that’s what happened with Jay Cutler, too.

So, all this is just to wonder, how will Reilly handle it if Armstrong is found to have used steroids? On the one hand, Armstrong is his mancrush. On the other, he has access to Lance that few have. He could be the go-to guy if it happens.It would be huge and could potentially launch him back into journalistic respectability (I’m serious).

At the very least, he has to at least mention it, right? I mean he harps about it still, long after Bonds and Sosa have retired. By all rights he should at least address the steroid issue with Armstrong.

Does Reilly care about salvaging some integrity? Does he care to potentially be the point man on a potentially huge story? Probably not, but who knows. Maybe this is just the thing to snap him out of his 15-year long funk. (Lest we forget, Reilly was once a pretty good writer.)

I’m not really holding my breath, though. Why would he have the drive after ESPN lets him throw crap at the wall once a week for several million dollars?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jacques Strappe permalink
    January 19, 2011 5:28 pm

    “(he doth protest too much, comes to mind)”

    Bleh. He was accused of it more than every other athlete combined, and if he didn’t protest it too much that would have been seen as an admission of guilt, too. Regardless of what we are inclined to believe, let’s not put anybody in an impossible situation where no matter what they say in response to an accusation, we take it as proof of guilt.

    • Tapps permalink*
      January 19, 2011 10:00 pm

      Thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting.

      There’s a decent chance Armstrong didn’t dope…I guess. And you’re right he’s in kind of a tough position. BUT, I think they way he denies it, plus, most importantly, the overwhelming doping culture in cycling, are marks against him. It’s my gut feeling that he did.

      All that being said, I don’t really care about athletes doing steroids…I am far more interested in what Reilly’s reaction would be, considering how much he sucks up to Armstrong and how much he’s railed against steroids.

      • Jacques Strappe permalink
        January 19, 2011 11:14 pm

        I guess my main concern would be that there’s no right way to deny that you use steroids, just like you can’t prove to someone that you’re not racist(which is basically what Reilly did to Sosa in that article you linked). I feel we should move away from using athlete reaction as a way to pass judgement because different people react different ways–I know if I was in their position and I was accused of doping when I knew I was clean, I’d be supremely pissed off and consider suing someone for libel…which would no doubt draw comparisons to Rafael Palmeiro and Roger Clemens and others who reacted similarly. But what if Ken Griffey, Jr. reacted that way? People like to assume he’s clean for whatever reason but let’s say a former teammate threw out a baseless accusation that royally pissed him off…how do we interpret that? What if I get accused and decide to say nothing…I’d be compared to Floyd Landis and Mark McGwire, who stayed quiet for a long time before admitting what they did. The reality is that there’s no “one size fits all” reaction for guys who are innocent and guys who are guilty…we should use only actual evidence and not raw emotion.

        Wow, I didn’t mean for this response to be long because you said that you don’t care who is doing steroids(and frankly, neither do I). I guess sometimes I take a lot of words to make a simple point…


  1. The Internet Hates Rick Reilly, Part I « FireRickReilly

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