Thank you, ESPN, for creating Grantland. I know you had to kill it for financial reasons, but it was a fantastic run.
As a reader, I’ll miss two things most about Grantland. First, Bill Simmons wrote some incredible NBA articles. He had such an immense perspective on the league.
Second, I’ll miss the baseball work of Jonah Keri and Ben Lindbergh. Both of these fine gentlemen not only understood analytics but could also write. (I’m a bit biased since they used my numbers in their work.)
How to write for Grantland
However, Grantland was best for writers. As a freelance contributor, I was never asked to write about any specific topic. They wanted interesting pitches.
I first learned this back in 2012. I sent an editor an email asking what kind of college football content he wanted. He replied,
It’s hard to know what exactly to ask you to pitch, but if you have some ideas that feel right for the site, please feel free to reach out.
The vague response was a bit perplexing. Only later did I realize the reason: Grantland wanted writers excited about their articles, and this happens when they write about something they’re passionate about.
This is extremely rare in the 2015 sports media landscape. At most other sites, an editor gives you an assignment.
My top 3 articles at Grantland
The freedom to pitch anything to Grantland was awesome. Here are my three favorites from the last few years.
- Why you have no shot at winning $1 billion of Warren Buffett’s money. It is idiocy to think you can fill out a perfect bracket for March Madness. I put some numbers behind this statement, spending more time on this article than any other I’ve ever written. Buffett hasn’t offered the prize again.
- Q&A with John Urschel. As an undergrad, John Urschel wrote two papers each worthy of a Ph.D. in mathematics. He also plays tackle football for the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL.
- Preseason preview of Auburn in 2014. Auburn fans didn’t like it when I called them lucky in 2013 (tipped Hail Mary against Georgia and kick six against Bama.) However, a lack of luck in 2014 and a brutal schedule ended in a 8-5 season.
Special thanks to Mallory Rubin, the amazing editor that allowed me to contribute to Grantland.