At that time, I didn’t know much about King besides occasionally seeing him on NBC Sports Network and my dad telling me he was a really good writer. King was personal, relatable and at times hilarious. I did not, at the time, fully appreciate the magnitude of Monday Morning Quarterback.
I started reading the MMQB (as it’s known on his new all-football mega-site) last year and now read it every week. For those who don’t know, King writes a column on everything from the week that was in pro football. Usually, it runs about 7,000 words long. For context, that’s roughly a 25-page essay. Most of the time, his columns are so informative and entertaining I find myself wanting them to go even longer.
King’s insider perspective on the NFL keeps readers coming back week after week. He has an incredible list of contacts in his phone and reaches out to every major actor in each week’s top storylines for his column.
This weekend, Tom Brady led the Patriots on an incredible late comeback win over the Saints, completing the game-winning touchdown pass to Kenbrell Thompkins with five seconds remaining. At the same time, the biggest story off the field involved the Rob Gronkowski injury saga. The Pats’ tight end sat out yet again Sunday, still unable to return from offseason forearm surgery.
Naturally, King led his column with quotes from an email exchange with none other than Brady himself. That kind of access is unprecedented and is the reason why King is the undoubted leader when it comes to post-weekend NFL literature.
However, this morning, I did something different. Instead of settling into my morning groove with the MMQB on my phone in between classes, a link on Twitter led me to Grantland.com for Bill Barnwell’s morning column on week six in the NFL, a breakdown of his confidence level regarding each of the 32 teams thus far.
Barnwell is less of a household name than King, but anyone who keeps up with Grantland, the everything blog run by the world’s most interesting blogger Bill Simmons, knows Barnwell is a rising star in the sports journalism world. He started as an intern at FootballOutsiders.com in 2005 and worked his way up the ladder.
As such, Barnwell offers a completely opposite, yet just as valuable view on the NFL as King.
An advanced metrics nut, Barnwell’s best work comes on Tuesdays, when he writes his weekly “Thank you for not coaching” column. In it, he analyzes the best and worst decisions made by NFL coaches the past weekend. His brilliant insights on important coaching calls, such as when to go for it on fourth down (hint: a lot more often that you might think), takes readers inside the game without first-hand accounts from the players and coaches involved.
Whatever your Monday morning routine, I highly recommend a steady dose of both King and Barnwell. One is an established legend, the other an up-coming-prodigy. Both enhance fan’s views of the NFL in ways only great journalists can.