On Twitter on Monday, Tim Layden announced he was leaving Sports Illustrated after 25 years.
Here are some of Layden’s most memorable pieces from Sports Illustrated. This is by no means comprehensive, so if you have a favorite Layden piece, please share it in the comments on on our Facebook page:
THE HUSTLE Selected for the 1998 Best in American Sportswriting
But it is the ticket guys who own the Super Bowl. Who own the Masters. Who owned the Final Four last weekend in Indianapolis, when seat-starved Kentucky fans came north and bought their tickets off street corners; late last Thursday morning, the mingling of ticket-rich coaches and hungry ticket guys turned a downtown hotel atrium into a freewheeling marketplace. It is the ticket guys who stand astride the outsized, overpriced, see-and-be-seen world of spectator sports. It is the ticket guys who have changed the way America gets through the turnstiles.
The ride ended here, in a musty room adjacent to the second-floor boxing gym over the police station on Main Street. There were high ceilings and dark walls, dust gathered along the baseboards and prehistoric cobwebs stretched across the corners. A small, sand-filled balloon no bigger than a ping pong ball hung on a string from the exposed plumbing; fighters would swing it like a pendulum and dodge it with head movement to improve defensive skills. It was a primitive space, as if created for a 1930s boxing movie, which, in a sense, it was. Mike Tyson, the 21-year-old heavyweight champion of the world, sat naked on a metal folding chair, fuming, desperate and angry, choking back tears. There were three of us in the room: Tyson, trainer Kevin Rooney and me. “Everything in my life was too good to be true, wasn’t it?” said Tyson. You would recognize the voice, the same one that comically menaced Zach Galifianakis in the first Hangover movie, only with fewer miles on it. You can hear it. “It was just too good,” he said. “Now my life is so screwed up.”
Remembering Chic Anderson’s Legendary Call of Secretariat’s Record Run at 1973 Belmont Stakes Winner of the 2018 Eclipse Award
“Secretariat is widening now. He is moving like a tremendous machine.” This is the killer line, delivered with rising enthusiasm. Anderson took time to separate He from is, rather than smushing them into a conjunction. He punched the middle syllable of tre-MEN-dous and the last syllable of ma-CHINE. This was a bold line.
The Forgotten Hero: Mike Reily's legacy at Williams College Selected for the 2012 Best in American Sportswriting
On the last day of his short life Mike Reily awoke in a hospital bed at Touro Infirmary in his native New Orleans, barely a mile from the house in which he was raised. It was Saturday, July 25, 1964, and the temperature outside would climb to a sticky 91°. A single intravenous fluid line was connected to Reily's body, which had been a sinewy 6'3" and 215 pounds before being withered by Hodgkin's disease and by the primitive treatments that couldn't slow its progress. Mike's mother, Lee, had been in the spartan room with him almost every minute of the four days since he had been brought in to die.
It is a word that in modern times can polarize—or politicize—an audience, ingratiating some listeners and repelling others. (Not this audience, the adult portion of which gasps in approval.) It's a word that the children have been taught but can't yet fully understand. For Brees the word is more than religion and spirituality, although it has been both of those, increasingly, through the years. Faith is more than Brees's empowering word. It is the central force in his life, slicing across family, football and community, carrying him to the top of his profession and to an iconic status in a still-wounded city that he has helped lift from despair.