Rick Reilly Officially Rich Beyond Our Wildest Imaginations

So it’s on. Sports Illustrated‘s Rick Reilly just signed with ESPN magazine in exchange for a staggering $10 million package. Reilly was already Time Inc.’s highest paid writer (and deservedly, if you ask us)… but apparently, Time’s corporate brass weren’t willing to match ESPN’s offer. Disney does have some deep pockets, after all.

The deal also includes occasional television work for ESPN… and don’t forgot that the $10 mil is besides the money he made for selling his Leatherheads screenplay — the film, set in the 1920’s football scene, will star George Clooney, Renee Zellweger and John Krasinski. However, Time is enforcing their non-compete clause; Reilly will not be able to work for ESPN until June of 2008.

We got our hands on ESPN’s press release announcing Reilly’s hire. The corporate goodness starts after the jump.

Rick Reilly Joins ESPN
Veteran Sports Illustrated Columnist to Write for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com and Contribute to TV

October 22, 2007 — Rick Reilly, award-winning columnist and author who is best known for his popular Sports Illustrated column, Life of Reilly, will join ESPN as the back-page columnist for ESPN The Magazine and as a regular columnist for ESPN.com, it was announced by John Skipper, ESPN executive vice president, content.

Under the multi-year agreement, Reilly will also be an essayist for SportsCenter, as well as a contributor for the network’s coverage of major golf events, including the Masters, British Open, Ryder Cup and US Open. Voted National Sportswriter of the Year 11 times, Reilly has been a senior writer for Sports Illustrated since 1985. Following a sabbatical, he will join ESPN on June 1, 2008.

Beginning in June his column will be featured on the back page of ESPN The Magazine, and on off weeks of the biweekly magazine, his column will be featured prominently on ESPN.com. Reilly will also occasionally host interview shows on ESPN.

“Rick has been a premier voice of sports commentary for more than 20 years and we are thrilled and honored to add his considerable talents to ESPN’s outlets,” said Skipper. “The outstanding insights, reporting, and humor of his weekly column will continue, and fans will now be able to enjoy Rick’s work through television.”

Reilly added: “This is an itch I’ve wanted to scratch for a long time. For a guy who loves sports, ESPN is the ultimate. I feel like a mouse locked in a cheese store. I don’t know where to start first. I’m thrilled with the opportunity to speak to a whole new audience in a whole new way.”

Gary Hoenig, editor in chief of ESPN the Magazine added: “It’s a privilege to welcome Rick Reilly to the pages of ESPN The Magazine. With Rick joining Bill Simmons, our readers will now enjoy the two best sports columnists anywhere.”

Reilly began his career in 1979 at his hometown Boulder (Colo.) Daily Camera while a sophomore at the University of Colorado, from which he was graduated in 1981. He wrote for two years at the Camera, two at the Denver Post and two at the Los Angeles Times, before moving to Sports Illustrated.

Reilly’s most recent book, released in May, Hate Mail from Cheerleaders, was a New York Times bestseller as was The Life of Reilly: The Best of Sports Illustrated’s Rick Reilly. His prior book, Shanks for Nothing is a madcap golf novel that cracked the New York Times bestseller list as well. It’s the sequel to Reilly’s cult classic Missing Links. Reilly’s previous book – Who’s Your Caddy? – rose to No. 3 on the New York Times best seller list.

Reilly is co-author of the screenplay Leatherheads, a comic romance centered on the 1927 Duluth Eskimos of the fledgling NFL due out in April, 2008. George Clooney will direct and star along with Renee Zellweger and John Krasinski.

Reilly has won numerous awards in his 27-year writing career, including the prestigious New York Newspaper Guild’s Page One Award for Best Magazine Story. He is the co-author of The Boz, the best-selling autobiography of Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth; Gretzky, with Wayne Gretzky; I’d Love to but I Have a Game with NBC announcer Marv Albert, and the The Wit and Wisdom of Charles Barkley. Reilly’s credits also include his critically acclaimed novel Slo Mo!

Reilly’s column of the same title was the inspiration for the organization, Nothing But Nets. A partnership with the United Nations Foundation, the initiative has raised millions to provide mosquito nets for children in Africa, where 3,000 children die every day of the disease. Every dollar goes to the purchase of nets.