Special Report: The Luck of Peter King

When he’s lucky, says Sports Illustrated senior NFL writer Peter King, the nights after a National Football League game are not entirely sleepless. “Sometimes I’m able to take a nap for an hour.”

But more often than not, King pulls a college-finals-styled all-nighter to churn out “Monday Morning Quarterback,” his exhaustive, weekly look at the major and minor events from the previous Sunday’s NFL games. The column—published each Monday during football season (once King has turned it in, usually by 6 a.m.)—has become one of SI.com’s signature franchises, generating 3 million page views a week.

But perhaps more significantly, “MMQB” is symbolic of his and the magazine’s full-hearted embrace of digital media. Though he’s been at SI since 1989, King says his magazine gig feels somewhat secondary. “I’m almost more of an employee for the Web,” he points out. If King were paid by the word, then he’d definitely be earning his check from SI.com. The monster that is “MMQB” typically weighs in at 5,500 words, two or three times as long as the average SI magazine piece. King insists that the column—a combination of his observations on individual games, players, coaches and league news, as well as his frequent diatribes on various airports and Starbucks around the country and occasional reports on his children’s various athletic teams—isn’t as laborious as it sounds. In fact, he welcomes the extra space the technology affords him. Before the Web, much of King’s work went unreported. “There was so much stuff during the course of the week in my notebook that I didn’t get to use,” he says.

Over time, “MMQB” became less of a throwaway and more of a weekly appointment for NFL junkies. (On some weeks, the column generates more than 1,000 e-mails). “We’ve got to comment on almost every aspect of every game,” says King. “Plus you hear from people in the league. It’s either ‘You are full of it’ or ‘I love your take.'”

Recently, King continued his association with the magazine’s Web evolution, becoming one of the first staffers to start producing video for the site, something he believes will become an increasingly important element. “It’s the video version of talk radio,” he says. “It has to become more of what we do.” —Mike Shields