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FMIA Finale: Onward

King reflects on decision to retire after 40 years
Peter King discusses what went into his decision to retire at 66 years old and reflects on what the future may hold for him down the road.

I’ll always consider the late Will McDonough the charter member on the Mount Rushmore of the niche (but hugely important) genre of NFL television information people. Chris Mortensen, who died this weekend at 72, forever belongs right next to him.

Mortensen, a giant in the world of NFL journalism, died Sunday. The cause was not announced. But Mortensen, who retired from ESPN after the 2023 NFL Draft, had been battling stage-four throat cancer and related maladies since 2016. I was stunned to hear the news Sunday, because we just spoke a few days ago, and his voice was as strong as his will. He said he was feeling good, and 10 months into his retirement from ESPN, was looking forward to following another season of his son Alex’s coaching career as Alabama-Birmingham’s offensive coordinator.

Mortensen made every ESPN show he worked on must-see TV for those of us in the NFL news business. And his writing was as valuable. “His credibility, attention to detail and reporting skills catapulted our news and information to a new level,” said Norby Williamson, executive editor and head of studio production for ESPN, in a statement on Sunday.

While a patient for the throat cancer at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston in March 2016, he broke a huge story—the retirement of Peyton Manning—first tweeting the news-break and then writing the first story about it. The info business can be brutally dog-eat-dog, but one of Mortensen’s fiercest rivals, Fox’s Jay Glazer, praised him this way: “Happy for Peyton Manning riding off on his own terms. Happier that @mortreport kicked my ass on this story!”

To me, that story sums up Mortensen’s ethos. Fighting for his life, but the news takes precedence even in some very dark hours.

When I talked to Manning late Sunday afternoon about it, he admitted that because of his great respect for Mortensen, he wanted him to be the one to break the two biggest stories in the second act of his career: signing with Denver in 2012 (a story Mortensen broke with Adam Schefter), then retiring from Denver in 2016.

“Over the years,” Manning said, “I had great respect for the media. I respected the job the media people in Indianapolis and in Denver had. But the hardest things about being a free agent is you’ve got no team. I remember through the process of picking Denver [in 2012], I talked a lot to Mort and to [ESPN partner] Adam Schefter because they knew so much about every team needing a quarterback that year. They helped me with guidance. I’d known Chris for so long because he came to the Manning Passing Academy almost from the first year we established it, and we built such a good relationship over the years.

“So when I was going to retire, I called Mort. I said, ‘Hey, I wanted to let you know I’m going to retire. I’d like you to make the announcement, but if you can’t do it because of your health, I totally understand.’ I mean, we all knew he was being treated then. But he said, ‘I’ll do it. Let me write this up really quick.’

“That was Mort. Dedicated to his craft, always.”

That’s not the whole story. There’s a part of the story that is Mortensen to the core.

Manning made the call to Mortensen on Saturday. After telling him, Manning said: “Can you do me a favor? Can you give me one last night as an NFL quarterback, to go out to dinner with family and friends? Can you hold it?”

Mortensen agreed. He would hold the story until Sunday. He and the news desk at ESPN prepared a written story that would post early the next morning. Mortensen’s boss on the football show, Seth Markman, was worried they’d get beaten on the story. If Manning told Mort, someone would tell someone else, and we might lose the giant scoop.

Mortensen would not budge. Nothing until Sunday morning. “It’s not even a discussion,” Mortensen said. “I gave my word. We’re sitting on it. If someone else breaks it, so be it.”

And that’s what else you need to know about Chris Mortensen. That’s why people told him things for decades. Players and coaches and commissioners could trust him.

One more story from Manning:

“So he just started coming to our passing camp every summer. He just loved being around all the coaches, all the quarterbacks, and us. He sat in on the staff meetings. He’d ride around the camp in the golf cart with my dad [camp czar Archie Manning]. The one thing that used to get my dad mad was when the counselors would leave camp early. The last practice was on Sunday, and if you came to coach, you were expected to stay through that last practice. But every year, a few guys would leave. This one year, a bunch of guys left, and we were going around to the different groups that Sunday, and there was Mort, coaching some of the campers. I don’t know what the parents of those campers thought, seeing Mort coaching their kids. But he saw a need, and he just stepped in to help.”

In 2017, 21 months into his treatment for the cancer, Mortensen sat down with me to discuss the intimate details of it. It was clear it had changed his life.

“There were days I was so weak I couldn’t even pray for myself,” Mortensen told me for my podcast. “In your weakest moments, you’re just existing I never went through a pity party, except for maybe two moments in July [2016], in which I wondered if I’d be alive in two to four months. I lived in four-hour blocks, with a feeding tube. Other than that, I’ve always been in pretty good spirits.”

The disease, he said, taught him a lot. “It’s so personal,” he said. “When [I] look in the mirror, I can’t recognize myself. You realize you’ll never be the same, for good reasons. You really learn how to treasure life. You learn to love every day. I get up every day, ‘Thank you Lord. Let’s have some fun today. Let’s enjoy it.’”

Last week, in his phone call to me, he said some very nice things about my impact on the business. His impact will never be forgotten, but not just on our business. I’ll remember his grace and his ethos in dealing with a life-altering disease just as much.

There is no good segue after such sad news. But I’ll move on with my last column, which belongs mostly to you, the readers.

Four Notes

Four notes wrapping up the Football Morning in America era:

Twenty-Three Countries

The majority of this column will be your emails and notes to me. One thing I love about our business now: People from remote Australia to India to Zimbabwe to northern Denmark to up near the Arctic Circle were among the 2,180 readers from 23 countries to write in the wake of my farewell column last Monday. Football, and football fans, are everywhere. I’m glad I’ve been able to be a conduit to the game for so many.

This note from Jorge Medina of Malaga, Spain, made me a little bit emotional:

“Thinking about the most different people around the world grouped to read you every Monday morning—I hope it makes you happy.”

It does. It has. I met so many of you on my trips to cover games in Germany in the last two years, so I knew how many people love the game outside of the United States. And inside, of course. Thanks to so many for your kindnesses in the past week, in all forms—texts, emails, phone calls, social-media posts. I think by late Friday I’d seen them all. Your reactions will come shortly.

Three Thanks

I want to add my appreciation for three people I’ll never forget:

Peter Gammons. Growing up in Enfield, Conn., halfway between New York and Boston, I would tag along with my father to get the New York and Boston newspapers on Saturdays and Sundays, and I’d get my sports fix that way. Gammons wrote a full-page baseball column in The Boston Globe that began in my high school years and was weekly appointment reading for me. After I left for Ohio University in 1975, my dad clipped it and mailed it to me every Monday.

Gammons knew everybody. He knew everything. How can this man be plugged into every team? I marveled at the guy. Now, when I was at Ohio, I wrote news and was the managing editor of the college paper as a senior; my internships were in news, not sports, and I just figured news was where my future would be. Then Frank Hinchey called from Cincinnati with a general-assignment sports job at the Enquirer in March 1980, and I was on my way.

When Sports Illustrated called in 1989 to offer the Inside the NFL column, I remembered how Gammons did his, and I tried my best over the years to translate his style—with a longer top to the column and maybe three or four more departments—to football. Fortunately, I’ve had the chance to thank him and tell him, “I’m doing this because you started it.”


Gammons and me.

Phil Chardis. In high school and for one college summer, I contributed stories to our local evening paper, the Journal Inquirer, covering the burbs north and east of Hartford. Phil, the assistant sports editor, was my boss. (He eventually went on to an assistant AD role at UConn.) Phil was tough. “Too wordy!” he’d say. Or, “Man, we really had to clean up this one.” Tough was great for me. I needed it. He dissected my five-paragraph Enfield High School basketball stories, which I needed. I learned so much from him. Most importantly, you’ll make your way in this business by outworking the guy sitting next to you in the press box, and outworking everyone you compete with. I never forget, Phil.

Mark Purdy. Terrific columnist at the Cincinnati Enquirer when I was there. We were together at the Aaron Pryor-Alexis Arguello championship bout at the Orange Bowl in 1982 (Pryor was a Cincinnati fighter, and I covered boxing in those days). Unforgettable night for many reasons, one being that my reporter’s notebook was splattered with five or six drops of Arguello’s blood. Being at ringside really meant being at ringside. Anyway, this obnoxious photographer kept standing up and obstructing our view, in violation of the media rule. Between rounds, I yelled at the guy to stay down, and he swore at me and started toward me. Mark put a gentle hand on me and said into my ear (it was loud), “Not a good idea to get into a fight at a fight.” I simmered down, and Mark told me later my job was to report on the fight on a tight deadline, and it couldn’t help me to be arguing with some dillweed. I learned, Keep the important thing the important thing. Great writer too. I always looked up to Mark, for many things.

The Father’s Day Book List

I’ve had a few people ask me if I’d continue to give book recommendations in late May/early June. And I will. June 3 is a Monday, and I’ll commit to posting a book list that day here:

Instagram: @peter.king8
Threads: @peter.king8
X: @peter_king

Also, if you email me at in early June, I’ll email you the list.

Requiem for a Dog

A few of you have mentioned the column after our dog Bailey died in 2013. Those of us who love dogs understand the feeling our family felt when we had to put Bailey—softball team mascot, lover of field hockey, chaser of 6 million tennis balls—down in 2013. “The easiest way to not feel this grief is to never have a dog. And what an empty life that would be,” I wrote. I’ve sent it to a few people who’ve lost good buddies over the years, and I thought I would leave it in case one day you need some reading material in your grief.

Now it’s your turn. Notes from near and far:

Hello, Family

A note from the editor:
Peter wanted the final publishing of this column to be, mostly, a collection of readers’ letters and reactions to his retirement*. Those are below, but first, a surprise for Peter: secretly-obtained letters from his three biggest fans.

From Laura

10 Things I Think I Think
Sports Obsession Edition

1. I think you might be the biggest baseball fan to ever walk planet Earth. I don’t know anyone else who pulls their car over on the side of the road to catch a few innings of a completely random little league game. And who keeps score of said game, in your giant scorekeeping book.

2. I think it’s probably rare to have a dad who takes you out of third grade early to drive you three hours to Camden Yards to see Cal Ripken play some of his final games. Oh, and four hours to Fenway to see the Sox.

3. I think I’m endlessly grateful that you coached my softball team from third through fifth grade, and even more so that you tossed me out of the game the time I struck out and threw my helmet. It hits harder when it comes from your dad.

4. On the subject of coaching, I’m just now thinking, with my own kids in sports, that it wasn’t typical for little league coaches to buy trophies for each player at the end of a season engraved with their name and an individualized superlative. I still remember winning “Most Consistent Player” in third grade and “Most Valuable Slugger” in fourth, and how proud I felt when you talked about my accomplishments in front of all the other kids and parents.

5. I don’t think I’m the only kid who loved having you as a coach.

6. I often think of you running up and down the field hockey field during my games in high school, holding your camera and yelling “GO! GO!” at whoever had the ball. And I still thank my lucky stars that I played right wing and the bleachers were on the left side of the field. For home games, at least.

7. I think you genuinely lost your mind, albeit temporarily, when you said, sobbing, “I could die right now and be happy” after I scored the winning goal in my first field hockey game back after missing most of the season with a broken thumb.

8. I think you need to stop buying hats, t-shirts, and sweatshirts from random sports teams because you “like the logos.” I know Mom agrees.

9. I think your grandkids love you a lot, not just because you’re silly, and not just because you send them five-dollar bills in the mail, but because you’ll always play ball with them. You’ll throw them the football, play HORSE, or kick the soccer ball for hours and hours.

10. I think you feel guilty for being gone for so much of our childhood. But you were always there when it mattered.



The King Family (credit: Carl Petersen)

Carl Petersen

From Mary Beth

Hello, dad.

When I first found out I was pregnant, Nick and I excitedly started discussing baby names, as all expectant parents do.

“I’ve always known that if I had a boy, I’d want to name him after my dad,” I told Nick. There was no pushback. He agreed. He didn’t ask me to explain why.

You didn’t either. But you deserve to know. So here’s why we named our son after you:

  • Your integrity. You do the right thing, even when it’s the unpopular thing, even when it’s the hard thing. You admit when you’re wrong. You apologize. You take responsibility. You work harder than anyone I’ve ever known.

If little Petey grows up with a fraction of your integrity, he will be a very good, successful human being.

  • Your joy. Your laugh brings a smile to everyone around you. You’re fun to be around. People are drawn to you, in part because of your authentic interest in finding the good in everyone you meet. You seek the fun in everything you do.

If little Petey grows up with a fraction of your joy, I know he will live a happy life.

  • Your support. Professionally, you’ve mentored some of the best young journalists in the country, not because there was something in it for you, but because you genuinely believe in them and want them to succeed. Your professional legacy is this next generation of storytellers that you’ve gone out of your way to champion.

Personally, you’ve always reveled in my challenges and successes. You were there when I won the Most Enthusiastic Reader Award at age 7. You were there to help me set up my weather station for my fifth-grade science fair. You drove me to thousands of field hockey and softball camps, lessons, and practices. Even with a grueling work schedule, you never missed a game. You never missed a weekend at Frost Valley. You never missed a chance to play King Family Monopoly. You never missed a parents’ weekend. You drove to Saratoga Springs to watch me compete for five minutes in a club equestrian competition.

Of course, I remember you being away. One year, I remember being sad before you left for the Super Bowl because you’d be gone for the whole week. You couldn’t take me with you, so you did what I considered to be the next best thing: you took my favorite stuffed animal, Yammie, and snapped pictures of him on the road to show me when you got back.

I do remember you being away. But I never, ever felt like you weren’t there. You’ve been there for everything important, and for most of the mundane, too. Your personal legacy is the love and support you’ve given me, Laura, mom, and the rest of our family and friends.

If little Petey is a fraction as empathetic and caring as you’ve been with your tribe, I know he will be dearly loved.

So our decision to name our son after you was, of course, a tribute to you and everything you’ve done for us and for others in this life. But it was also meant to represent the wishes we have for little Petey in his life – who we hope he’ll be, and how we’re consciously choosing to raise him every day. For the last 27 months, you’ve unknowingly been little Petey’s North Star. So, now you know.

I love you so much. I am so proud of your career, and I am so very proud to be your daughter.

Mary Beth

From Ann

Dear Peter,

There are so many bests that can describe you:

Best Husband
Best Father
Best Grandfather
Best Friend
Best Sportswriter
Best Everything!

I’m so proud of you and all the good you do for your family, friends and complete strangers. You are always the first person who says: “Let’s have some fun.” You are always the first person to say: “I can help you.”

You are my hero.

Having said all that, I want you to know that you have a long list of chores waiting for you this week.

I love you,

peter and ann.jpg

Peter and Ann (credit: Carl Petersen)

Carl Petersen

Hello, World

From Kildare, Ireland. Mark Hogan writes: “The fan experience won’t ever be the same. So many of my favourite football memories involved me sitting in Ireland and being transported thousands of miles away to somewhere I’ll probably never be.”

From Tasmania, Australia. Fergus Edwards writes: “You want to know where your column has been read? I’m a Ph.D. student now, but I used to be in finance. Since I’ve been reading your columns I’ve lived in London, Paris, Hong Kong, and Singapore; I’ve read your column in all of them, as well as when I’ve been working in Rio de Janeiro and in Mexico City, in Moscow and in Reykjavik; in Abu Dhabi and in Cape Town, in Tokyo and in Manila, and in San Francisco and in New York. In every one of those cities I’ve read your column and had a few calm moments with a voice that has been consistent and insightful and warm. I’m going to miss that voice. You’ve been the best uncle I never had.”

From Vaasa, Finland. Erkka Peltonen writes: “I’m totally at loss with words. Got hooked on the sport here in Europe quite early, and I’ve been reading all your MMQBs and then FMIAs since 2013. I truly believe that people leave their marks everywhere they’ve been. Your writings have touched a lot of people, and somehow made all of us a bit more human, a bit more connected. I’m still not going to cry because it’s over. Life is all about moving forward and getting excited about the new surroundings as well.”

From Surat, India. Tanmay Patel writes: “Your reach is as far as Surat, a mid-sized city in India. I’ve only followed this game for three years. No one in my life knew anything about this game. You are the person who made me fall in love with this game and the beauty of the plays you discuss every year especially with coach Andy Reid. Very grateful to you. Will forever be an NFL fan because of you.”

From Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Matt McNabb writes: “Thank you for all the insightful and behind-the-scenes football stories, for the late nights and early mornings, and for bouncing across the country (world?) to report on the things that you found interesting and thought we, too, would find interesting. Thank you for sharing intelligent reporting and propping up good reporters around you, young and old, and for serving up the next generation of football writers that we should be reading. Thank you for calling attention to topics that needed attention, inside and outside of sport, and for not shying away from the vitriol; you likely received more than your fair share from the stick-to-sports crowd. Thank you for your accountability; it seems to be in short supply lately. Finally, thank you for all the personal and family stories. I felt invited into your life, even if it was a one-way relationship. It’s a relationship that I’m going to miss.”

From Tilburg, the Netherlands. Jiri Conradi writes: “Your writing will be sorely missed, but that’s life. Great way to go out by giving some tips for other Monday writers for next fall.”

From Brussels, Belgium. Francois-Gerard Stolz writes: “Fascinated by American sports since I was a teenager, you showed me the ins and outs of my favorite sport and gave me a better understanding of American culture in a spirit of openness (kind of an opinionated voice of reason according to me) because you had the fortitude to write about more than the NFL. I remember I used to print MMQB to read it during my one-hour train commute on Monday nights when I started working in Brussels and still living in Liège. I’m 49 now and I’m able to read you anywhere at any time (our world has changed indeed). I’ll miss something on Mondays. I’m very grateful to you for all these pleasant moments of reading and thinking.”

From Alcobaca, Portugal. Ron Sellers writes: “More than anything, while I’ve learned about football strategy, coaching decisions, etc., I’ve learned a lot about NFL people as people. I can find good strategy discussions in lots of places, but you and Dan Patrick are unmatched at helping us get to know people like Cameron Heyward, Joe Thomas, and Frank Reich as human beings, not just players/coaches/GMs. Farewell.”

From Hayling Island, United Kingdom. Gareth Irwin writes: “Your writing has always been first class and I have loved the way [you] combine in-depth football stories with non-football news. Even at the end you managed to have a really interesting story on how Patrick Mahomes was drafted. I wish you a long and happy retirement.”
From Klarup, Denmark: Jakob Aarup Adelhard writes: “Thank you for taking me places I’ve never been behind the scenes, for enhancing my views on the beautiful game of football half a world away and for broadening my perspectives on all things non-football related, haikus included.”

From Harare, Zimbabwe. Tamari Makwanya writes: “I am saddened to see you leave, but I understand it and I appreciate everything you have given to us the readers all these years. A lot of the ideas and thoughts I have of leadership have come from the stories and anecdotes I read in your column from coaches and players you wrote about. I will leave you with a quote from our Liverpool manager, ‘Football (soccer) is the most important of the least important things.’ Reading your column every Monday proves that.”

From Malaga, Spain. Jorge Medina writes: “A lot of times I have thought about writing a mail to thank you for your work or to discuss football things but I always find myself thinking I can’t bring anything of interest to a man who has talked with Tom Brady, Joe Montana. I always thought it would be a correct time to write you, another day, another year. And here we are, no more FMIA. Something in the way you treated the game, the players (I think the athletes are our version of mythology heroes), the work of your colleagues, the road trips. Sometimes I read it all [on] Monday morning. Sometimes it took me a few days to read the column, finishing the next weekend. But I always enjoyed. Every single time. Thank you for your work. You brought stories for 44 years to an infinite number of people. Thinking about the most different people around the world grouped to read you every Monday morning—I hope it makes you happy.”

From Budapest, Hungary. Daniel Layko writes: “Reading your columns has been a staple of my Mondays for many, many years now; it was the finishing coda of all football weekends, as integral to them as watching the Red Zone Channel in the early window, then switching to my beloved Chargers, and often watching Sunday Night Football to guarantee myself a difficult time waking up a mere 2-3 hours after the final play. Seeing your column appearing in my feed early in the morning was as welcome as a shot of caffeine, and it was always a wonderful time to reflect on the games, and read interesting stories and factoids from all over the league. I have always appreciated that you gave us insight into areas of the game that we never would have seen without your work. I could always count on your columns to be companions on my football journey.”

From Gdansk, Poland. Clint Kirby writes: “It’s hard to pinpoint what made your column so special. I felt like I knew you in some way. I don’t know how you did it, but you did it.”

From Knivsta, Sweden. Garry Nilsson writes: “Football, well, it actually started with my love for country music and a trip to Nashville about 40 years ago. A hangover after a Friday party
got me stuck in front of the TV and a college football Saturday. Then I was hooked on the sport. I spent nearly 25 years as a part time ‘journalist’ writing about American football and I can’t count how many times I’ve quoted you (and Dr. Z) when I did my NFL columns. So I just wanted to say ‘thank you.’”

From Zagreb, Croatia. D Predic writes: “I’ve been reading your columns each Monday since I started following this wonderful, maddening sport in 2011. There are more and more fans of football in Croatia, but obviously not a lot of quality football-related journalism. Also, I spent most of 2019 and 2020 in a minimum-security prison. (Let’s just say that gambling is truly, really bad, and I hope you’ll go on being a thorn in the league’s side about it.) It wasn’t too bad, but your columns my brother kept sending me during those two football seasons certainly made it much easier.”

From Hamburg, Germany. Sven Lohalm writes: “Loved your reporting, your writing, your behind-the-scenes looks and always appreciated your side-turns from sport to society or politics or family or beer. You taught me a lot about the U.S. and gave me a better understanding of your country. I will miss that as much as your masterful pieces that are harder and harder to come by on so many platforms. Thank you for making me a better football viewer.”

From Mexico City, Mexico. From John T. Carleton: “You say you are shallow. Really? Naaaah. You are deep, thoughtful, a geek’s geek, and even when you could get in trouble with a wide sector of your readership when you dabbled in ‘off-topic’ subjects I always appreciated that you shared your true self, bared your soul, your personal joys and perspectives, your pain, your authenticity. In Mexico we have a saying: ‘En vida hermano, en vida’ that roughly translates to ‘In life brother, in life’: As in: While we’re alive and ‘around’, say it, do it. Don’t wait for it to be too late. Thank you, Peter, for millions of words, countless great moments and making life much better for so many.”

From Dom Pedrito, Brazil. Gustavo Menna writes: “I’m 28 years old, and have watched the NFL for about 15 years. I read about your retirement and man, what a punch in the gut. Damn, I’m gonna miss your column. Usually my Monday morning jammed inside an office is very boring and I really enjoyed reading your words after a cup of hot coffee and a great SNF game, of course. Your writing style reminds me a lot of George R. R. Martin (huge fan here) and you tell your stories in a way that we don’t see a lot these days. You show the human side of the sport. Best of luck in your new chapter of life.”

From Marseille, France. Antonin Tokatlian writes: “It was bound to happen and clearly it felt like this was your last year, and I wanted to thank you. Truly it was great. And please, don’t you ever say ‘I wish I could write that way.’ You wrote great. And we enjoyed it. Believe it.”

From Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada: Kevin Anderson writes: “I recall reading articles of yours in Sports Illustrated and I laughed when I read you said that [you] had not received an email from Yellowknife. The capital of the Northwest Territories has been home for the last 32 years. Wanted to wish you all the best in ‘retirement.’ I’m retiring from my job with the territorial government in a few months so in many ways I can relate.”

From Vicenza, Italy. Davide Lavarra writes: “I’d like to thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, for your gigantic work on American football. I love this sport, and I got to know it better, because of your columns. By reading your articles I was able to imagine what was going on in a locker room, in a media session, in a training camp, on a bus with John Madden. Those articles gave me an enormous amount of joy. My routine has been the same for decades on Monday evenings: wash my teeth, go to bed, and a full read of MMQB, later FMIA.”

From Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada: Sheldon Ort writes: “A very special gift you have given your readers is a legacy of talented journalists! Albert Breer, Jenny Vrentas, Robert Klemko, and the list goes on. Being an NHL fan I can’t tell you how much I enjoy Emily Kaplan and her ESPN commentary. Thank you, and continue to enjoy life.”

From Dusseldorf, Germany. Adam Robinson writes: “In 1997 I was a senior in high school in Dripping Springs, Texas, where I grew up. Today, I’m a 45-year-old happily married father of two little boys and a teacher at an international school in Düsseldorf. I have learned a lot through it all, very often through experience, but also through the teachers that I’ve come across. And one of them has been you. Your column remained a constant from the first one to the last one, so, in a sense I feel that you have been part of my life’s journey.”

From Athgarvan, Ireland. Killian McGee writes: “Being in Ireland I don’t get to talk about American football much so your Monday morning articles were a must read and felt like a lovely conversation with my American friend. Wishing you a very long and healthy retirement. Remember as we say in Ireland, ‘The older the fiddle, the sweeter the tune.’”

From New Zealand. Tane Robyns writes: “Thank you so much Peter. I will miss your insight, your humour and critically, your ability to challenge – to challenge the league to be better (think legalised gambling), to challenge your fellow country men and women to be better (think gun control) and to challenge us, your avid readers around the world, to be better (think reading your many links to other great publications). There is only one critique I would make – your love of Starbucks coffee is truly frightening. Please come to NZ and try some real coffee.”

From Milton, Ontario, Canada. Mike Shumka writes: “In the modern day, with talking heads trying to be more controversial than the next person, your work brought a sense of even keel for a fan that is not interested in the manic noise of the 24/7 Sports News Cycle. I feel part of that is why you were able to have inside access to players, who felt at ease sharing a part of themselves with you, because you weren’t about click bait and making it about yourself. Your trip to Montana with Tom Brady is evidence of that, because he felt like you were not part of that noise. I am really going to miss that. You humanized these men, which made us as readers see a different side to them.”

From Kaiserslautern, Germany. Erik Slavin writes: “I worry about where journalism is headed without a broadly sustainable business model. And I wonder whether many people are growing up without an understanding of what it takes to do quality reporting and storytelling. The recent Washington Post piece on SI’s Super Bowl party is illustrative of both points. At any rate, you’ve always been quite optimistic in your column, even when the boo birds write to you. I’ve appreciated that as well. It’s great that you’ll finally get to watch a pro football game without thinking about how it fits into your job.”

From Sofia, Bulgaria. Ivaylo Yordanov writes: “Thank you! As for the future as Andy Reid would say, time’s yours!”

Hello, U.S.A.

From Austin, Texas. Raul Allegre (former Giants kicker I covered in the eighties) writes: “Do you remember, right after the players went on strike in 1987, that you asked me what I was going to do to stay ready? I said that I would go kick on my own, even if I had to fetch my own balls. You then wrote your phone number on a piece of paper and wrote, ‘I will shag.’ What I never told you is that shortly after that, I decided to go back to Mexico while we were on strike. Months earlier, I had met Cristina, the love of my life, and to whom I have now been married for almost 35 years and have three kids. Our daughter is getting married on March 8. I spent three weeks of the strike in Mexico. That is why I did not take you up on your offer to shag. I admire what you were able to accomplish since I met you.”

From Minnetonka, Minn. Dr. Daniel Wingert writes: “‘It’s time.’ Eyes widen, heartbeat quickens. ‘Who’s complaining? Not me.’ Stomach drops. Damn. I knew just by the title that the dreadful day, your retirement, has come. I was introduced to MMQB in 2005 as a college freshman by some of my new football teammates (just D-III football). Since then, reading The MMQB, then FMIA, has been a weekly Monday tradition. A few years later when I started veterinary medical school, some of my classmates were curious as to what I was reading between classes on Monday mornings. A few of them would also become hooked on your writing. I feel like the reason why your Monday morning articles have become a weekly tradition in my life for nearly 20 years has been not only because of your superb reporting on the NFL, but also with how you write about your life and the world. Thank you.”

From Los Angeles. Gabrielle Ducharme writes: “I am the writer, and now a proud alum, from Arizona State’s Cronkite School, who wrote on the Navajo Nation’s return to post pandemic basketball for Cronkite News. You changed my life in December 2021, when that story was selected for FMIA Sports Story of the Week. To say it remains one of the greatest honors would be an understatement. It lit the fire under a young writer who knew she had a voice and was navigating how it could make a difference. If I learned anything from that time, and all those years of reading your work, it’s, “The job of a journalist is to take readers where they cannot go, and teach them what they do not know,” as you wrote in that 2021 article. When I write, I think back on how you’ve managed to make a predominantly male-dominated sport more approachable to so many, myself included.”

From Chauvin, La. Christina Positerry Tucker writes: “My husband accepted my weekly crush on your weekly Monday Morning reporting. Every NFL weekend as we’d watch games, he’d quickly respond to whatever crazy play or call of the week with ‘I can’t wait for you to read what Peter’s going to write about this!’ Which is why he knew how emotional I felt when I woke him up this morning with the news. I softly expressed, ‘Guess what? When I couldn’t sleep at 4:30 this morning, I found Peter King’s last column. He’s retiring.’ There was a short pause and he replied, ‘Dang!’ He knew how special that column was to me each week. Thank you for the passion you have brought to football and journalism. Thank you for supporting women in sports, and in journalism, too. Thank you for teaching this southern Saints girl levels of the sport that make me watch every game through a different focus.”

From Amherst, N.Y.: Glenn Frost writes: “Our loss is your family’s gain. To quote Ray Kinsella, ‘The man’s done enough, leave him alone.’ Go enjoy the rest of your life.”

From Pennington, N.J. Emma Levine writes: “I want to thank you for the impact your column has had on my life. As a young girl growing up in New Jersey, I fell in love with the sport of football and soon discovered your weekly column thanks to my grandfather, who has been an avid reader since you started at SI. It instantly became a mainstay of my Mondays and has been for the past decade-plus. Now, I am a young woman who has turned that love of football into a career path. After studying communications and media in college, I now work in NFL public relations and have been a seasonal assistant with the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals over the past two years. I can’t tell you what it meant to have you be such a champion for women in football. There are so many of us who love the game and are more knowledgeable about it than many of our male peers, yet are criticized and questioned at every turn. Your column was a safe place to engage in NFL dialogue without feeling ostracized, and the way you [lifted] so many women—especially in media—was empowering and inspirational to me and many more.”

From Minneapolis. Alexandra Petersen writes: “I’ve been with my husband for seven years and he would tell you every Monday that we’ve been together, I set my alarm early, grab my cup of coffee and sit down for the best part of my week—reading your Football Morning in America piece. I learned so much through your articles—current news events, other writers to follow, captivating stories from across all NFL teams and much more. Thank you for being a part of my life for many years and I will miss your thoughtful articles and the way it sparked my interest and curiosity. I wish you and your family all the best.”

From Hillsborough, N.C.: Justin Carlson writes: “As a young adult in a new place (North Carolina) in 1999, I quickly found your MMQB column online and integrated it into my Monday morning routine. Since then, I’ve probably read 80 percent of your columns, despite how much my work and family responsibilities have grown over the years. Not gonna lie, it’s made for more than a few uncomfortable conversations with bosses, clients, or even my spouse because, well, I NEED to spend 30 minutes with your column every Monday, client meetings be damned. I would guess I’ve read 8-10 million words that you’ve written, which is definitely more than anyone else I’ve read other than God, via the Bible. To borrow a baseball analogy, you’ve retired still throwing a 99-mph fastball.”

From Vancouver, Wash.: Michael Davidson writes: “In 2019 I lost my brother-in-law to suicide. He was a lifelong Seahawks fan, me a Chiefs fan from the Derrick Thomas and Christian Okoye days. After Seattle won the Super Bowl he told me, ‘Now I just want you to get one.’ I think about my brother-in-law whenever KC has a chance to win a Super Bowl. This year was no different. At the game’s conclusion, I jumped up after Mecole Hardman‘s catch and yelled to my wife, ‘THAT’S CORN DOG!!!’ My wife and daughter have no interest in football, but my teenager asked, ‘Wait, what?’ I explained to them what had happened (Deja vu all over again) and we were all laughing at the absurdity of it. At that moment I felt sad that my bro wasn’t there to share the experience with me, but also felt gratitude that my wife and daughter were. We shared a bonding moment over Corn Dog, and that was made possible by you sitting with Coach Reid following last year’s game.”

From Dallas. Chuck Cooperstein writes: “Can I quote John Phillips and Cass Elliot? ‘Mondays will never be the same.’”

From Attleboro, Mass. Dave Coulter writes: “The NFL will be poorer without you but I wish you the best. Even those on top of things sense when it’s time to step aside and even though it’s a hard thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. I love the line where you say you want to watch a game on TV. That’s what I’ve done and for me you made it a richer experience and you gave the game fabric and meaning. Bravo! Rock on.”

From Naperville, Ill. Mike Shereck writes: “Good luck on your retirement. You did say something that really resonated with me. You are shallow. I think you being so shallow is why I am so annoyed at you. To have such a powerful platform and to offer only compliance and going with the narrative. That is especially demonstrated in you fawning over the female sports writers covering the NFL. And why? Because you have daughters. Good luck. I wish you well, and I am thankful that you will never annoy me with your thoughtless dribble [sic] on social and political issues which you have a petri-dish depth of understanding of. And you did a great job of covering the NFL. Thank you.”

From Big Sky, Mont. Ron Bibler writes: “You made a comment in your last column that deeply resonated with me. You stated you have never ‘short-changed’ your readers. You are absolutely correct. I was shaking my head when you described your pneumonia and still churned out 10,000 words. That’s dedication. You made me realize that I too have always attempted to never short-change those around me. I have been a high school football referee for 41 years and I honestly believe I have never short-changed any game, any team or my crew whenever I officiated. I can say, to the best of my knowledge, I have never short-changed my family, my friends, or my clients. When I texted my boys about your retirement article, I told them to watch the 40-for-40 video. I closed with, ‘This is a good attitude to have in life: Don’t short-change those who matter to you.’”

From Indianapolis. Ryan Tom writes: “Back in 2003 I was called up and deployed to Iraq with my reserve unit. We arrived in Kuwait in April ’03 and headed north to Iraq the following month. My girlfriend at the time wanted to know if there was anything she could do for me. I asked her to print out everything on by Dr. Z and Peter King. It took a couple of phone calls to explain who Paul Zimmerman was but she found your stuff right away. So for the next several months, once a week I’d get an envelope stuffed with football articles. They were at least three weeks out of date but it didn’t matter how old they were. They always gave us a much-needed piece of home and were an escape from the life of a deployed soldier.”

From Pasadena, Md. Leonard Davis writes: “My wife and I have two autistic children who are doing quite well but we have had our struggles over the years. Raising special needs children is rewarding but can be trying at times. Last year my wife and I attended a small group meeting with the school’s PTA. The topic of self-care came up and making time for oneself and what people do to accomplish that. I stated that no matter what for as long as I can remember, I take time on Monday mornings after getting the kids ready for school, putting them on the bus and before leaving work to read a column. I will usually read your story recommendations as time allows throughout the week.”

From Olney, Md. Kim Iskyan writes: “I started reading your work in 1996, in Kyrgyzstan... that’s a tiny Central Asian country just to the west of northwest China that’s south of Kazakhstan (if that helps any). Kyrgyzstan, which used to be part of the Soviet Union, is one of the most isolated places in the world, and in the pre-internet world it felt like the end of the earth. During the year I was in Kyrgyzstan imagine my delight when one day I discovered a stack of Sports Illustrated magazines in a cupboard at work. I browsed through a few, and before I knew it, had become hooked on reading about football, and you in particular. I took a sip, and ever since then -- through the different web sites and iterations and seasons, and your kids growing up and your beer preferences (wheat beer is my favorite so I’m all on board there) and your travels and your house moves and MMQB and NBC -- I’ve been drinking. And when I’m looking to get away from what I’m doing during the day, I stray to NFL coverage, preferably yours, and your Monday column has been part of my routine for decades.”

From Buck Creek, Ind. Peter Schilling writes: “Three words: Pretty, pretty good.”

From Jackson, Wyo. Sinclair Buckstaff Jr. writes: “Thank you for your writing. It illuminated, explained, and enlivened the NFL for me. And it did it in a package that I could readily absorb and then move on, for sports aren’t really life; they’re a part of life. An enjoyable part, but a part only, nonetheless. I wanted to say thank you not only for the football-related coverage you provided, but also for the non-football-related items as well. Here’s the last part of me saying goodbye to you: with your retirement, I believe I will do something I’ve been contemplating for some time, and that is to stop watching or reading at all about football. I’m old enough (age 69) to remember seeing Gale Sayers on television and in highlight films. The joy of watching his grace, speed, and elusiveness will stay with me for the remainder of my life. But, so, too, will the knowledge that he died with severe dementia brought on by the violence that football imparted upon him. It seems to me wrong to continue to watch a sport that damages the high percentage of its participants that football does.”

From Lewes, Del. Lynn Donlan writes: “[Peter King] sucked. Plain and simple. He did what the NFL told him to do. That’s not journalism and that’s when I stopped reading anything Peter King.”

From La Grange, Ill. Ryan Vance writes: “I am currently in a GA recovery program for a sports gambling addiction that affected my life deeply. I wanted to thank you for shedding light on the subject matter with your reference to The Wall Street Journal article on gambling. This is a very accurate picture of the depths of where this illness may lead in the future for many Americans. As a society, more and more cases of this nature will become known. However, I must say with proper and ongoing recovery, my life has not been ruined. My life is now more complete and full because of the actions and steps I have taken. I just hope as a society that we can become more knowledgeable and come to the rescue of those who are directly affected prior to said people hitting their ‘rock bottom’. I chaired my first GA meeting last evening in front of a group of recovering compulsive gamblers at a church basement in the Little Italy neighborhood of Chicago. In my therapy I referenced the direct quotes you used in your interview with Mike McDaniel. I talked about the power of being vulnerable to achieve your best self, not wasting the day, and being comfortable in your own self. Your words and insight into Mike’s career and process were quite insightful to me and the group.”

From Cleveland. Matt LaWell writes: “We talked one time, during the spring of 2004, and I still think about our conversation and the lessons you passed along. I was a sophomore magazine journalism major in Athens working at The Post (at Ohio University). I treated the newspaper like a fulltime job. I gave it far more attention than I did my classes. And I grabbed every story I could. As a religious Sports Illustrated reader (I moved up from SI for Kids in 1995, when I was 11, and still subscribe today, with something like 1,500 issues shelved in the basement), I especially wanted to write about you when my editor, Eric Pfahler, suggested the Sports staff work on a Dream Job tab about famous OU alums in sports media. I got the assignment and then ... had no idea where to turn. Two days before my deadline, I finally just called the main number at SI, said I was trying to reach you, was patched through to your voicemail, explained myself, and prayed. Not two hours later, my flip phone buzzed in Poli Sci. I ducked out of class and listened to the voicemail I saved through multiple phones before finally losing it. ‘Hi, Matt. This is Peter King with Sports Illustrated. I see you’re trying to reach me. I have some time this afternoon if you’d like to talk. You can reach me at ...’ I’m starting to cry a little right now, a 40-year-old man at his desk, thinking about the hour you carved out for me that same day.”

From Port St. Joe, Fla. Jack Blake writes: “I’m about to turn 82 but, like you, I took an opportunity to retire early and for the last quarter of a century my wife and I traveled the world extensively. But you were always there for me on Monday mornings (actually early Tuesday while in New Zealand and Australia, and later on Monday afternoon in Europe or Africa). One of my most memorable reads of yours was a struggle but I endured and I was finally able to download your column while in the Antarctic. Yes, I’ve read you throughout those 25 years in all seven continents and I’ve always admired your humility, your thoughtfulness, your creativity in reporting. Please accept my simple but heartfelt thanks for what you’ve meant to me.”

From Wilmington, Del. Richard Cooper writes: “There will never be another like you and we will all miss you. You felt like one of us – whether it be your daughter’s softball, your dogs, your walking journey, your highs or your lows – you felt like one of us. As it’s become increasingly hard to relate to athletes and now even the media types who cover them you always felt like one of us. You always seemed to know how lucky you were to do something you loved, even though you worked relentlessly to get there you acknowledged there was luck involved too.”

From Los Angeles. Scott Hanson (yes, THE Scott Hanson) writes: “I’m happy and sad. Happy that it seems you’re at peace with this decision (Lord knows, you always ‘left everything out there on the field’), sad because it’s hit me that I’ll never be able to read your great work on a late Sunday/early Monday again. You considering my name worthy to be included in your final column (a beautiful piece of work, by the way) was another ‘wow’ moment in my career. I tell you this not to make it about me, but to hopefully convey that I hold you in that high esteem. You so clearly outworked others, even when your name and reputation had been established and you were likely tempted to coast. That’s a trait we love in our favorite players and coaches, and I see it in you! Please know that when you’re on the couch Week 1, and a certain commercial-free channel is on your TV, I’ll be giving it everything I’ve got, Peter King style.”

From Forest Lake, Minn. John Schmidt writes: “I cannot tell you what your column meant to me, every Monday. Your craftsmanship, your thoughts, opinions that (to me) mattered. It gave me a boost. I’ve been a teacher for 43 years, a special-ed teacher for 27 years. I’m 65. My closing time is drawing near, also. But I still love it. I like to wake up, go to school, and give what I have. And yes, I WON’T go too far, when people can see the quality of my work ‘fall off’ and just mail it in. I’ve seen teachers mail it in, and doing so is a stain on the profession. Teaching can be discouraging. Teachers must be the eternal optimists. Spending on education, by Minnesota’s legislature, hasn’t kept up with inflation, every year since 2000. But your column, along with the thanks of some parents, along with the joy of seeing a kid make progress, along with the occasional article in the paper highlighting something good that happened at school, makes a difference.”

Hello, Haikus

From Encino, Calif. Lorin Green writes:
Peter King retires?
This fan was oddly choked up.
I bid you adieu.

From Charleston, S.C. Janet Segell writes:
What do I do now
With the Peter King bookmark
In my browser? (sob)

From Kansas City. Dennis Ward writes:
Over 40 years
As we Adieu the Haiku
Thank you Peter King!

From Richardson, Texas. Jason Boehm writes:
Years of work now end,
Embrace the peaceful sunset,
Adieu, work’s embrace.

From Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Jonathan Miskulin writes:
For countless great reads,
With an honest human touch,
A retirement well earned.

From Budapest, Hungary. Daniel Layko writes:
Hétfői társunk
A történetmesélő
Micsoda ember
(The Google translation: Our Monday companion, the storyteller, what a man.)

From Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Boughty Canton writes:
Thank you for all the
insight and humanity.
This fan will miss you.


Most often in this job, you have no idea what people think of what you do. Even after finishing what I’d consider a strong column, I’d get next to no reaction on the overall column. Rather, over the last 10 years or so, I’d get a bunch of emails every week, but the vast majority would be people bitching about me not covering the Jets and Cowboys enough, or covering the Packers and Patriots too much, or not recognizing the brilliance of Tua Tagovailoa, or you are so naïve about gun issues, or you had a typo in Offensive Players of the Week, or how on God’s green earth was Harrison Butker not a player of the week. That kind of granular comment.

Most of this particular column is selfish, with kind and humbling sentiments from all over the world. But it’s also a real reflection of your emails to me in the past week. Your reaction to me stepping away from this column made me realize how many of you have valued what I’ve done. I appreciate that, a lot.

I’ve been asked a few times over the past week who has reached out to say happy trails. Many co-workers and subjects from 40 years of writing I’d expect, and quite a few (Jared Goff, for one; and Mike McCarthy, who I was pretty rough on after the Dallas playoff loss, for another) I wouldn’t expect. All of it is so nice. I’m appreciative.

And to all of you: My appreciation for reading, for watching, for listening, for making my life’s work so incredibly rewarding. Until we meet again, my everlasting thanks. Onward.

Peter King’s Lineup