Growing Up Penn State (Grantland, November 2011) (shortlisted for The Best American Sports Writing 2012)
The end of everything at State College.
(Listen to my interview about this story with NPR’s “This American Life.)
Read my archive of Rolling Stone columns.
Read my archive of Vice Sports columns.
Read my archive of Grantland stories.
Read my archive of The Athletic stories (subscription required).
Paranoid and Madcap, The Manchurian Candidate Is Our Timeliest Novel (Vulture, May 2019)
150 Years of College Football: The Series (The Athletic, 2019, subscription required)
Golf’s Generation War Will Be Fought at the Masters (The Ringer, April 2019)
Through most of golf’s history, major championships were reserved for players in their 30s who’d “paid their dues.” Then Tiger Woods came along, and after him the Rory McIlroy–Jordan Spieth generation. Now, that group is writing a new chapter—and changing the sport as it goes.
The Legacy of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird’s NCAA Championship Showdown, 40 Years Later (The Ringer, March 2019)
In 1979, two generational talents faced off on college basketball’s biggest stage. The game sparked a rivalry that helped shape the landscape of the sport as we know it, and four decades later it still serves as a cultural touchstone.
How Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Became the Last Niche Act to Play the Super Bowl Halftime Show (The Ringer, February 2019)
Before the show became the massive, commercial entity it is today, one small swing band got the call to perform in 1999. Their appearance is virtually unbelievable 20 years later—even to the band’s members.
The Fight Over the Future of Football Has Become a Battle for California’s Soul (The Ringer, January 2019)
California has long been known as a hotbed of football talent. Yet as research into the game’s dangers has spread, politicians, advocates, and parents have clashed over how to protect youth, high school, and college athletes. What happens to a state intractably divided by sport?
The Odd Couple (The Athletic, November 2018) (subscription required)
For 50 years, Harvard’s Champi and Yale’s Dowling have been connected but also apart
Martha Burk, Hootie Johnson, and Augusta National, 15 Years Later (The Ringer, April 2018)
The showdown between the women’s rights activist and the country club chairman may have ended in 2003, but their fight over women’s rights and representation was always bigger than golf.
The Birth of Steph (The Ringer, March 2018)
When a skinny guard with a magical shot led tiny Davidson College on an unforgettable NCAA tournament run, he altered his basketball trajectory—and the entire sport. Ten years later, Steph Curry and others reflect on the March that launched a legacy.
How the Olympics Got Disneyfied (The Atlantic, February 2018)
The 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Games were star-studded and futuristic—and broadcast to U.S. audiences for the first time.
The Drug Czar (The Penn Stater, January/February 2018)
The complicated legacy of Harry Anslinger, father of America’s drug war.
Interleague Play is 20 Years Old: Does Anyone Still Care? (The Ringer, June 2017)
Once Major League Baseball’s hottest-button topic, interleague play has become as commonplace as an intentional walk. Why was it so controversial, and what does it mean now?
An Oral History of Universal Soldier (Muscle and Fitness, June 2017)
They don’t make action movies like they used to. Case in point: It’s been 25 years since ‘Universal Soldier’ busted into America’s multiplexes. In this exclusive oral history, ‘M&F’ takes a look back at the cinematic gem.
“He Didn’t Fit the Mold of a Revolutionary.” (The Ringer, April 2017)
Twenty years after Tiger Woods’s historic victory at the 1997 Masters, the golf icon is sitting out the tournament yet again. With his cultural impact dwindling by the day, friends, journalists, and fellow golfers reflect on Tiger’s increasingly complicated legacy.
Holy Tuck. (The Ringer, January 2017)
An oral history of the Raiders-Patriots Tuck Rule Game, Which 15 Years Ago Forever Altered the NFL.
Does Donald Trump Defy Satire? (Made Man, January 2017)
For MAD magazine and other outlets, the struggle to mock a human caricature is real.
Weed Grows Up (Made Man, December 2016)
Prop 64 vote made pot straight-up legal in America’s most populous state. Our San Francisco correspondent investigates the massive impact.
Riley Sorenson Is Winning at Life, Even After Losing Those Closest to Him. (Bleacher Report, December 2016)
Not Saying It Was Aliens… (Made Man, November 2016)
…but when you spend the weekend at Alien Con, your mind can go to some pretty weird places.
Confidence Is a Smell, And That Smell Has Notes of Citrus (Made Man, October 2016)
A hesitant writer, an over-the-top press trip and a ballsy men’s grooming brand. What could go wrong?
Oakland’s Black Hole of Despair (The Ringer, October 2016)
After more than a decade of mediocrity, the Raiders are finally fielding a contender. It’s a bittersweet moment for the most notorious fans in football, who can’t stop loving the team that’s trying to abandon them again.
Catch Him If You Can (The Ringer, August 2016)
Christian McCaffrey is a thrilling player who satisfies nearly every Heisman requirement. There’s just one problem: Voters barely watch his games.
Meet Phil Steele, The Man Behind College Football’s Most Obsessive College Football Preview Magazine. (Vice Sports, July 2016
2016 NFL Draft: Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, Two QBs With One Mentor. (Rolling Stone, April 2016)
The Sublime Simplicity of Baseball-Reference.com (Rolling Stone, October 2015)
How one fan launched a site that’s become an indispensable source of info for statheads and Hall of Famers alike.
The Trials of Aldon Smith (San Francisco Magazine, August 2015)
An NFL Player at a Crossroads.
California, Here He Comes (Grantland, August 2015)
USC’s Cody Kessler has managed to fly under the radar despite posting astonishing numbers while occupying one of the nation’s most typically high-profile positions. The small-town QB doesn’t want to talk about the Heisman, or the temptations that have undone some of his predecessors, or the burden of expectation. But when you play quarterback in Los Angeles, you can’t stay out of the spotlight for long.
His Jurassic World (Grantland, June 2015)
Author Michael Crichton’s Entertainment Odyssey and Lasting Cultural Impact
The Game Within the Sugar Game (Grantland, December 2014)
Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and the Battle of College Football’s Recruiting Kingpins
Promise Keeper (Grantland, December 2014)
Twenty years ago, at the pinnacle of his career, Colorado coach Bill McCartney walked away from the game. His reasons remain more complex than many realize.
The Pirate and His Pupil (Grantland, October 2014)
After butting heads for two seasons, Mike Leach and Connor Halliday have finally found common ground — and air. Now, the passing records are starting to fall.
The Dickens of Detroit (Grantland, April 2014)
The sound and style of a city through the eyes of Elmore Leonard, its foremost author.
The Coaching Iconoclast (Sports on Earth, May 2014)
Mike Leach still prefers to embrace the controversy.
Need for Speed (Sports on Earth, August 2013)
Marshall tries to take up-tempo to new heights.
College Football’s Games of the Century: A Seven-Part Series (Grantland, 2013)
Part I: The Birth of the Argument
Part II: The Tie Will Be Unbroken
Part III: Tricky Dick’s Trick Play
Part IV: The Goal-Line Stand
Part V: Tom Osborne Goes for Two
Part VI: Wide Right and So Wrong
Part VII: Leaving the Little Guy Behind
The Kings of Q*Bert (Grantland, March 2013)
Why do we play arcade games for hundreds of hours?
Hurry up and Wait (Grantland, February 2013)
Jim Crutchfield’s West Liberty University is the fastest offense in college basketball — and they win. So why isn’t anyone else trying to catch up?
The Many Lives of Donald Westlake (Grantland, January 2013)
On the man who created Parker and the quest for the perfect character.
The Winningest Coach You’ve Never Heard Of (Grantland, December 2012)
The football team at Division III’s Mount Union is one of the most dominant collegiate programs in history. How? A man named Larry Kehres.
The Story of Bo and Joe (Grantland, December 2012)
How the greatest athlete of our time forever changed the life of a kid named Dudek.
Cursed: Yinz and Losses in Pittsburgh (Grantland, July 2012)
Is this the end of 20 years of ignominy for the Pirates?
The Billion-Dollar Coach (Grantland, August 2012)
Former Fortune 500 CEO Joe Moglia has never led a major football program — so why is Coastal Carolina finally giving him a chance?
West Virginia’s Magical Realism (Grantland, October 2012)
Bearing witness to Dana Holgorsen’s maniacal Mountaineer offense
Returning to State College (Grantland, October 2012)
In the aftermath of incomprehensible tragedy, Penn State is slowly relearning the meaning of football
Steve Spurrier’s Golden Years (Grantland, August 2012)
The Ball Coach has never been more relaxed — and South Carolina may be better than ever
Crime, Punishment and Penn State (Grantland, July 2012)
A Failed Experiment (Grantland, July 2012) (shortlisted for The Best American Sports Writing 2013)
The scandal at State College infects an entire system in the aftermath of the Freeh Report
Please Don’t Call It Ping-Pong (Grantland, May 2012)
Among the paddle-fetishizing, bar-hustling American Olympic table tennis hopefuls
The Aging Tiger Woods (Grantland, April 2012)
The uncertain future of a onetime savior
A Visit With the Worst College Basketball Team in America (Grantland, January 2012)
Tough times at Towson University.
Robert Griffin III: Heisman Winner? (Grantland, December 2011)
A visit to Waco with the future first-round pick.
Living In State College (Grantland, November 2011)
Sadness and simple horror — returning home to the aftermath of scandal.
The Culture of Unrest at Penn State (Grantland, November 2011)
Trying to understand what happened in Beaver Canyon on Wednesday night.
The Best Passing Quarterback Ever (Grantland, October 2011)
It’s just too bad Anthony Calvillo plays in the CFL.
The Real Rocky (Grantland, October 2011)
A visit with the Bayonne Bleeder, Chuck Wepner.
Who Invented the Seven-Game Series? (Grantland, October 2011)
The story behind our strange modern standard.
Statis-Pro Baseball: An Instruction Manual (Grantland, July 2011)
The exhausting work of adolescent obsession.
Renée Richards Wants to be Left Alone (Grantland, June 2011)
Sitting down with the transgender icon and onetime most controversial woman in sports.
Where is Micheal Ray Richardson? (Grantland, August 2011)
Michael Ray Richardson is Oklahoma. Coaching basketball. But has he come any closer to conquering his demons?
A Dirty Shame (ESPN.com, July 2007)
Once known as the dirtiest player in the NFL, former offensive lineman Conrad Dobler is now fighting for the guys he tried to dismember.
Bo Knows Best (ESPN.com, November, 2007)
Twenty years after his most memorable run, the two-sport star can still kick your butt, if necessary.
Anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing 2008
The Day Innocence Died (ESPN.com, June 2008)
Len Bias has been dead for as long as he was alive. So, how did that shocking day in 1986 affect the world he left behind?
The Lost Kids of Willows (ESPN.com, October 2008)
A small California town struggles to cope with an unbearable string of tragedies.
Shortlisted for The Best American Sports Writing 2009
Hollywood Act (ESPN.com, January 2009)
Thirty years ago, he offered Terry Bradshaw a spelling lesson and snorted cocaine during the Super Bowl. Since then, he has been to prison, won $28 million in the state lottery and gone on a hunger strike. Hollywood Henderson comes clean about his flamboyant life.
The Tragic Story of Charlie Mohr (SI.com, The Bonus, April 2010)
Profile of troubled Wisconsin boxer Charlie Mohr, whose death in the ring in 1960 spelled the end for sanctioned college boxing.
The Night College Football Went to Hell (ESPN.com, January 2007)
A look back at the 1987 Fiesta Bowl game between Penn State and Miami, and its lasting implications on the college football landscape.
Coming Home (The New York Times City Section, May 2007)
Profile of several veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the challenges they faced upon returning to college.
Playing for Fun, and Little Else, on Football’s Edge (The New York Times, July 2006)
An examination of the ongoing struggles of women’s professional football.
In America, the Beautiful (Newsday, August 2004)
Profile of women’s tennis star Maria Sharapova, shortlisted for The Best American Sports Writing 2005
One-Wall Wonders (Newsday, August 2003)
A look at New York City handball players, shortlisted for The Best American Sports Writing 2004
A Chess Queen (Newsday, March 2006)
Profile of Susan Polgar, a chess grandmaster and an outspoken advocate for the game.
The Unorthodox Path (Newsday, February 2006)
Profile of Orthodox Jewish boxer and Brooklyn native Dmitriy Salita.