February 3, 2013

Note to people in the spotlight: Good journalists like good stories more than they like you

Here's an article by prominent ESPN columnist Rick Reilly on how it's a crying shame that 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick hasn't met his genetic mother in all the years since he was adopted at one month old, and he should really pick up the phone. Yet, when Reilly brought the subject up to Kaepernick last week at a Super Bowl media event, Kaepernick wasn't interested in taking a journey into the depths of his emotional being with the newshound a few days before the Big Game.

But it would be such a great story!
Rae, my 23-year-old daughter, is adopted from Korea. Sometimes I look at her and feel for the woman who gave her up, who never got the joy of knowing her, raising her, watching her. 
The 49ers' 25-year-old starting quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, is adopted, too. I wonder if he sometimes feels for the woman who gave him up, who didn't get the joy of knowing him and raising him. 
That woman does get to watch him, though. 
She'll watch him again this Sunday, as he plays in the Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens. Her name is Heidi Russo, a 44-year-old nurse from Thornton, Colo. He's declined her requests to visit or talk. She accepts it, but she aches for more. 
Wouldn't you? She was 19, unmarried and nearly broke when she gave him up. She cared for him for five weeks while she looked for an adopting couple who were (A) set for money, (B) had other kids and (C) loved sports. Heidi stands 6-foot-2, and the birth father, now absent, was also 6-2.

My impression going back to Bart Starr 45 years ago is that Super Bowl quarterbacks tend to have roughly the same personalities (just jock version) as astronauts. Occasionally, you see a quarterback in the Super Bowl like Jim McMahon of the Bears 27 years ago who likes extraneous tumult, but not often.

48 comments:

narrative uber alles said...

Anything, absolutely anything, is just fungible mass media fodder now. Any sphere of life on Earth.

Broadway Joe said...

SB quarterbacks tend to have roughly the same personalities (just jock version) as astronauts

Hey now--have you seen some of the mopes coming out of NASA lately

Anonymous said...

Kaepernick probably grasps the logical conclusion of visiting his birth mother out of some sort of genetic obligation: the obligation would extend to sperm-daddy too - Reilly might ask him why he chose to visit white Mom and exclude black Daddy. Like Barry O, he is wise enough not to extend access to a motley collection of sycophants, half-brothers and sisters, vying for a chance to be close to the Big Man.

Mark Mallarde said...

Joe Namath is the best example, correct?

There is some showboat-ing in that it is hard enough to play professional sports. To add lots of attention and controversy is showing off one's talent by raising the bar.

Mark Mallarde said...

Joe Namath is the best example, correct?

There is some showboat-ing in that it is hard enough to play professional sports. To add lots of attention and controversy is showing off one's talent by raising the bar.

Mark Mallarde said...

Joe Namath? Isn't he Exhibit A?

Anonymous said...

Reilly definitely became prominent when he was at SI, so "prominent Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly" is defensible, but he's been writing at ESPN for years now.

Anonymous said...

So what's the deal with him? I assume a white teen-aged girl got knocked up by a black guy and she put the kid up for adoption?

Anonymous said...

My interpretation is that the article is about Rick Reilly, Perfect Adoptive Parent.

Anonymous said...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/01/eric-hobsbawm-historian

vandelay said...

Reilly was actually "traded" by SI to ESPN a few years ago for Dan Patrick and a case of beer (presumably).
As a subscriber, I was quite pleased by the transaction. His column was almost as bad as Steve Rushin's.

rightsaidfred said...

Part of the spotlight on Kaepernick requires him to entertain off the field. The reporter was looking for something to entertain the female cohort.

misty said...

Are you saying football players are space cadets?

Harry Baldwin said...

PS--Also applies to detectives and investigators interviewing you about a case you're involved in.

Maguro said...

Rick Reilly has to be in the running for the coveted title of most annoying sportswirter in the country. He's been witing the same cloying, jock-sniffing human interest stories for decades now. Truly a hack's hack and a despicable human being.

Anonymous said...

I read this story on the ESPN website several days ago and was disappointed that no comment section was provided.

It made me sick. Rick Reilly, with whose writing and analyses I am familiar, was so entirely out of bounds with this one, I vowed never to read him again.

Because he and his wife adopted an Asian girl, because HE thinks the way they and she have handled the adoption and the renunion with their girl's birth mother, he somehow thought he have some street cred on this one. Wrong.

It was as intrusive a feature article as I've read. It was Reily trying to stir up something, which is his m.o. His audacity is mind-bending and I, for one, would love it if (it's a fantasy), Kap would shove his fist through Reilly's yapping mouth.

First, the kid has NO issues about his adoption, but Reilly doesn't like that he doesn't have issues. He wants him to have emotional conflicts--what a great story that would be.

Second, I suspect that Reilly is actually trying to convince himself by "spreading the word," that his and his wife's actions to reunite their child with her biological mother was "the right thing to do."

Damn. Talk about presumptuousness: the typical progressive mind-set that "I really know what's best for you."

Anon87 said...

Don't worry, women will have to meet the same standards as men. Which is patently false.

Mr. Jacob, now the policy director for the Service Women’s Action Network, an advocacy group that worked to end the female combat ban, acknowledged the physiological differences between men and women, but said they were overstated. “There are lots of men who don’t have the same muscle mass as other men,” he said. “There is physical diversity regardless of gender.”

Anonymous said...

RGIII wins Rookie of the Year. According to Complex Sports, or some sort of website, Luck and Wilson who led their teams to the playoffs, were not as "electric" as RGIII.

Anonymous said...

I read up on this story not being familiar with it.

I would imagine Kaepernick is not interested, because his mother is a gold digger.

She abandoned him at 6 weeks to pursue a career, which she now has.

The adoptive parents send her regular updates on Kaepernick, but she asked them to stop when he was 6, allegedly she claims, because she could not move on with her life.

Now that he's at the peak of his fame, she wants back in in his life.

Lakini said...

Not really an SI guy anymore: He sold his soul to The Mothership...

Auntie Analogue said...


I'd like to see Stupor Bowl Sunday renamed for what it is: Panis et Circenses Sunday.

Yes, I call it Stupor Bowl as so great a portiona vast number of Americans voluntarily gorge and inebriate themselves for mesmerizization by tour de force Media-Pravda hyperbombast, in worship of overinflated sports "heroes" (many of whom juice themselves to their gills), in insensible thrall to corporate-commercial power-swagger.

When this Sunday rolls round, I like to play the recording, from the soundtrack of the 1959 epic 'Ben-Hur,' of the track entitled "Parade Of The Charioteers." Panis et circenses indeed.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Reading anything Rick Reilly has written over the last few years will reduce you to screaming rants. He has become a caricature of himself.

countenance said...

I'm convinced the media wanted a Baltimore-San Francisco Super Bowl before the games were played during conference championship weekend two weeks ago, because I figured that they figured it would result in more story lines that the media would fawn over. Whether or not it would result in a better football game, it's no care of the media's.

Nancy Pelosi has vestigial links to both cities. I'm surprised you're not seeing her face out there all over the place.

I swear, between all this talk about homosexuality, deer antler spray, knife murderers, brothers, natural and adopted mothers and tattoos, I could swear there's a football game hiding underneath all of that.

It's just like that paper in Westchester County, N.Y., the Journal-News, took down the gun owner map (after it had already been saved on 10 million hard drives, probably). They didn't do it because burglars were targeting dot houses to steal guns, and they didn't do it because jail inmates were sending threatening letters to jail guards. They only did it because their paper's publisher and reporters got threats for having done it to begin with. IOW, the media did right by the media.

Anonymous said...

for some reason that reilly article really bothered me.

not because he's "wrong" per se. i wasn't adopted and i've never adopted. i dont know what the "right" thing to do is. but i'm damn sure it's none of my business to tell someone else how to feel or what to do in that situation. maybe it would be good for him to do what reilly says--i have no idea. but who the hell is rick reilly to tell him what to do about something that personal?

Anonymous said...

I wish they stop all the personal stories. Haven't they learned from Manti?

It may have started with ABC's Olympic coverage in 1976 with their UP Close and Personal segments with the likes of Franz Klammer.

jody said...

rick reilly is really bad now. he's unreadable, and when he's on television, unwatchable. bill simmons is a lot better. of course nobody will agree with everything any one prominent sports writer thinks, but bill simmons is a lot better at this point.

bill simmons is awake on the issue of sports drugs now and he knows what to look for. and he's openly accusing various athletes. finally, somebody willing to do it. "You don't get better in your late 30s." amen.

Anonymous said...

Astronauts are a subset of military pilots. Flying aircraft in a war is a risky occupation even if you are the best of the best. To do it in the first place, you have to be highly intelligent and coordinated. But to want to do it, you have to be somewhat egotistical and delusional about your own prowess (i.e. you don't believe you could die), or truly accepting of the risk.

This egotism and delusional nature is pretty much a necessity in MMA athletes and boxers. Many of them talk about being delusional as being a necessity to doing the job well and getting to the top. It's probably common in most professional athletes, because the reality of entering sport with a desire to go pro is fraught with risk. Especially so though with those who are going to get beat up badly if they fail.

Another factor that anyone who has known military, and especially jet pilots will note is their competitiveness.

An astronaut is just a subset of these military pilots that have been selected because they were the best of the best, wanted the glory, and could deal with the risk.

The combination of intelligence, physical ability, egotism, being delusional, and competitiveness are probably all traits that top quarterbacks have too, though the weights are probably different.

Anonymous said...

"Reading anything Rick Reilly has written over the last few years will reduce you to screaming rants. He has become a caricature of himself."

It's a toss up--Reilly, Stephen A. Smith or Skip Bayless for the Chrissy Matthews of the sports' world---just fatuous, transparent self-promoters.

jody said...

"I'm convinced the media wanted a Baltimore-San Francisco Super Bowl before the games were played during conference championship weekend two weeks ago, because I figured that they figured it would result in more story lines that the media would fawn over. Whether or not it would result in a better football game, it's no care of the media's."

they only care about one thing. ratings. in which case, the conspiracy thinking goes, they would have preferred to see tom brady or peyton manning in the superbowl, against aaron rodgers and the green bay packers.

that's the biggest ratings game possible. one of the legends of the game AND the huge national green bay packers fan base.

the highest rated superbowl was patriots-giants (legend of the game versus new york city, the biggest television market), and the previous record was packers-steelers (the 2 biggest national fan bases).

the LAST team they wanted in the superbowl was the ravens. dead last. the ravens give them a big automatic ratings hit. the texans would have given them texas, the second biggest state. and the cowboys fans would have watched too. the falcons would not hurt much, and would give them the south. the seahawks hurt ratings some, but don't crash them.

bud selig hopes for the new york yankess or boston red sox in every world series. david stern once said, only half jokingly, that his ideal NBA finals was the lakers versus, the lakers.

david stern hates the spurs, as they crash his television ratings, and he actively goes out his way to punish them. it's extremely unprofessional. fortunately in 2014 when he retires, we won't have to put up with that kind of thing anymore since the new commissioner will be adam silver, who is not...oh wait.

i'm sure it's just merit though. straightforward meritocracy, the selection of these guys.

lulu said...

"Nancy Pelosi has vestigial links to both cities'

Not so "vestigial" in the case of Baltimore. That's where she was spawned and raised. Two generations of her relatives (brother & father, I think,) were mayors. She's a Bawlimoron, and that's a fact.

CJ said...

It's amazing how many people make a living in sports media. The two-week (!) run-up to the Super Bowl really puts it on display -- all the jock talk radio, broadsheet sport scribblers, sport network blowhards, website wannabes. They'll do whatever they have to do to avoid working regular jobs.

Zhora Misha said...

Wow. I thought that the Stevoholics were somewhat *racially aware* readers! Instead I see a raceless, bourgeois clinging to privacy as the highest value.

It would be great for Kaepernick to openly acknowledge his white mother, and to identify with her rather than the black (or biracial) bio-dad who completely abandoned him. He could be the Un-Halle Berry!

Anonymous said...

I think I must be a sap. I wasn't planning on watching much of the game but I may now that I read that Reilly story. .....Say what you will, but those up-close-and-personal sports stories are good at drawing in casual fans.

Anonymous said...

Skip Bayless gets such a bad rap but he seems like a genuinely decent guy behind the scenes. He was the only prominent sports figure who called out the media consistently for the anti-Tebow bias.

Mr. Anon said...

No mention of the (typically absent) black father? I guess that is so common as to warrant no notice.

Anonymous said...

.

"
Mr. Anon said...
No mention of the (typically absent) black father? I guess that is so common as to warrant no notice."



worth repeating

Truth said...

"It would be great for Kaepernick to openly acknowledge his white mother, and to identify with her rather than the black (or biracial) bio-dad who completely abandoned him. He could be the Un-Halle Berry!"

Why? she abandoned him too.

Anonymous said...

"Why? she abandoned him too."

Read the article. She made sure he was put in the hands of a responsible family.

I don't see what all the outrage is about. I thought it was a reasonable, thoughtful article. Sure, Reilly has no right to pry in Kap's personal life, but the background information was interesting and his general points about adoption seem valid. I don't know what it's like to be adopted, but it seems normal to me to want to know about and meet your biological parents - your flesh and blood - and a bit odd not to.

Anonymous said...

With a Wonderlic score of 37 and the running ability of a wide receiver, Kaepernick seems to be a good example of heterosis. He played very well on Sunday; I predict a longer and better career than RG3 or Cam Newton.

MC said...

"His column was almost as bad as Steve Rushin's."

Glad to hear I'm not the only one who hates Steve Rushin.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how many people make a living in sports media. The two-week (!) run-up to the Super Bowl really puts it on display -- all the jock talk radio, broadsheet sport scribblers, sport network blowhards, website wannabes. They'll do whatever they have to do to avoid working regular jobs.

The yearly bubble economy.

Jim said...

Seems like what they want is not "stories" but status. There are all sorts of stories that reporters pass up all the time because they don't "fit the narrative". Reporters in general don't even seem to be especially curious people, seized with the desire "to know". What they want are "good stories" that get approval and views and advance their career.

Anonymous said...

Kaepernick does owe his birth-mother a little more gratitude than previous generations of bi-racial bastards. After all, he was born in 1987 when there really wasn't too much stigma attached to aborting a fetus conceived when mommy was experimenting with the flava.

Truth said...

"Read the article. She made sure he was put in the hands of a responsible family."

Mother of the year candidate, no doubt.

TGGP said...

I guess this means we're not getting any posts on who Sailer's biological parents are. If I were him I'd still want to get a genome scan, since as Razib notes the main reason most people don't learn much from their own is they've already got relatives with extensive life histories to compare.

About Rick Reilly, he writes that his own daughter was crying about not knowing any of her relatives. So it makes sense that they went to meet her. Kaepernick knows who his mother is and could easily meet her if he wanted to, but decided early on he didn't want to and has stuck by that decision. Doesn't it make sense to extend some of the same deference to what the adoptee wants?

Anonymous said...

"
Seems like what they want is not "stories" but status. There are all sorts of stories that reporters pass up all the time because they don't "fit the narrative". Reporters in general don't even seem to be especially curious people, seized with the desire "to know". What they want are "good stories" that get approval and views and advance their career.


worth repeating

These "journalists" are the opposite of the Derbyshire dissident type personality.

http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2013/01/inspiration.html

Anonymous said...

His wonderlic is 37, one of the highest of the quarterbacks that year, ryan fitzpatrick excluded of course. Nice hybrid vigor working for him.

Anonymous said...

Rick Reilly is a hack journalist and a prick to boot.