Sportswriting’s King Pen 🖊️

02/27/2024 Sportswriting’s King Pen 🖊️

By: Jeff Yoder

Legendary NFL Columnist Peter King Puts Down the Pen After 44 Years

What if I told you the world’s most famous football columnist never actually played football? Crazy, right? That guy might be labeled an “armchair quarterback.” And that’s precisely who he is — the original. And don’t you forget it.


Peter King was a voice for the everyman football fan on Monday mornings for 27 years (44 total as a sportswriter). Today, after announcing his retirement, he gets the sports media equivalent of a Tom Brady sendoff. King put down the pen yesterday, on a Monday morning (of course), in a fitting final column and tribute to his loyal following. The King and his armchair, no more.


Peter King: Monday Morning Quarterback


King was one of the most talented and fascinating sportswriters to ever pick up a pen. Part of the reason (well, my reason) is because this lifelong football wordsmith never strapped on the pads or played a single snap. He never coached, scouted or sat in a front office (at least not on payroll). He wasn’t a footballer who became media. He was a writer who loved football from the eyes of a fan. King was a three-sport athlete at Enfield High School in Connecticut — basketball, baseball, and soccer — before getting a journalism degree and bulldozing a path into football sportswriting most could only dream of. Forty straight Super Bowls? Amazing.


How simple, yet contradicting. A high school soccer player used penmanship to infiltrate America’s biggest macho sports club? At the NFL Combine this week, 321 college athletes will put their muscles, speed and skills on display to try and gain entry through physical force into this exclusive fraternity. Meanwhile, King used writing to tackle his opponents. And those words, like literary touchdown highlights, became buttery-smooth Monday morning soliloquies to transform a sometimes-barbaric sport into poetic play-action. Mwah!👌 (chef’s kiss)


King played every position in football coverage since long before the NFL became the media behemoth it is today. Sports Illustrated’s decorated NFL columnist penned the ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ page for more than 20 years (1997-2018), earning National Sportswriter of the Year three times in the middle of a 44-year sportswriting career made from dust. Most recently, King went to NBC in 2018 to write ‘Football Morning in America’ — a spinoff of his beloved MMQB notebook.


He spent season after season dabbling in other positions across football media, too, joining HBO’s Inside the NFL and NBC’s Football Night in America. His Sirius Radio show The Opening Drive ran for a number of years. He wrote five books, all about the NFL. He’s attended the last 40 Super Bowls, and he shared those experiences in his final column. Peter King is synonymous with NFL coverage, and his exit marks another sad day in sports journalism’s reckoning.


“Who’s complaining? Not me. I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth. To be a long-termer in an increasingly short-term business, to write this column for 27 years and to be a sportswriter for 44, well, that’s something I’ll always be grateful for. Truly, I’ve loved it all.” — Peter King


One thing he said yesterday struck me: “I’m someone you read, not someone you watch.” I love that. He wanted his writing to be the experience, not himself. No screaming for clicks. No talk-show tirades. No big media agenda. No drama.


Peter King… just a man with a pen, and no need for attention. Pure underdog.


📝 FMIA: It’s Time. Who’s Complaining? Not Me. (Peter King)

🎥 NBC: Peter King Announces Retirement From Sportswriting (Video)


Read More

NBC Sports: Relive the Most Iconic Moments From Peter King on PFT

SI: MMQB Founder Peter King Retires: The NFL Columnist Who Set the Bar ‘Impossibly High’


Photo: Scott Halleran / Getty Images