ESPN the Magazine announced earlier this week that it will no longer be available in print come September.
The self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in sports decided to end its reign after more than two decades of print because “consumer habits are evolving rapidly” and most of its readership is now digital. To honor all it gave to the sports-loving world, we’ve rounded up five of our favorite profiles from the magazine’s archives below.
In the February 2015 edition of the magazine, writer J.R. Moehringer profiled Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankees third baseman, steroid-using cheater, MBA class-taker, father, son, villain, hero … As Moehringer points out, A-Rod is a complex personality who defies the archetypes listed above, even to those who you hate him. “Boy, wow, do they hate him,” the story reads. “At first they loved him, and then they were confused by him, and then they were irritated by him, and now they straight-up loathe.”
Sports-writing legend Wright Thompson took a long, hard look at the career of Michael Jordan in 2013, when the GOAT-cum-mogul turned 50. Jordan is now 56, and it’s just as strange to him as it is to you, if not worse. “‘Can you believe it?’ Jordan says quietly, and it sounds like he’s talking to himself,” Thompson writes. “…Inside he’s dealing, finally, with the cost of his own competitive urges, asking himself difficult questions. To what must he say goodbye? What is there to look forward to? Catching an introspective Jordan is like finding a spotted owl, but here he is, considering himself.”
In the Heroes Issue of the magazine in July 2018, Mina Kimes spoke with Olympic gymnastics champion and activist Aly Raisman, who spoke out against Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor who was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for molesting her and hundreds of other young women. “I know that I’m one of the few that are being heard, so I just want to do right by people,” Raisman said of her platform — the very same one she’s using to change her sport.
Kimes struck gold again in the August 2017 edition of the mag when she profiled Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who apparently would only agree to the interview if it was conducted at the writer’s home. “It’s an oppressively warm afternoon in Los Angeles, and I’m sitting in my living room, looking at Rodgers looking at my stuff,” Kimes wrote. “As he studies his surroundings, it occurs to me that when I write about this, I’ll have to describe my things instead of his things, and I realize that’s probably why we’re here.”
Thompson of course makes a second appearance on our list as well, with his history of the career of future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki in the March 2018 magazine. “I really just hope he keeps playing,” former teammate Dee Gordon told Thompson. “Because I don’t want him to die. I believe he might die if he doesn’t keep playing. What is Ichiro gonna do if he doesn’t play baseball?” Ichiro no longer plays baseball — and, as we now know, did not die when he quit — but this is the story of how he played it as long as he did.
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