In the fall of 1997, SI.com's managing editor Steve Robinson approached Peter King with an idea for Sports Illustrated's nascent site. Then, as now, King's notebooks could have filled a small corner of the Library of Congress, but where to put all this goodness? After years of writing an NFL column for the magazine, King, inspired by Boston Globe sportswriters Peter Gammons and Will McDonough, recognized an opportunity to marry the insider's gold mined from the hours he spent working his (pre-smart) phone with the two-way dialogue the Internet encourages. And so Monday Morning Quarterback was born. A conversation and a community, too, that connects SI to millions of readers each week.
Last fall, King recalled that 1997 meeting with Robinson. He was in a franchise-building mood. How about Monday Morning Quarterback on Tuesday, too? And Wednesday? How about Monday Morning Quarterback several times every day? How about an MMQB that leverages the platforms—mobile, video, Twitter and Facebook—that enable new ways of telling the story of North America's most popular sport? To do this, King wanted a film analyst in the mold of the great Paul Zimmerman, who brought the nuanced complexity of the game to the layman as an SI senior writer from 1979 to 2008. SI hired Greg Bedard, the award-winning national football writer for The Boston Globe, whose observations from 20 hours of film study every week have won the admiration of front office men, coaches and players around the league—several of whom text him on Monday mornings seeking his breakdown of their performances.
King also wanted a reporter with an extensive understanding of the health issues that are an integral part of the game. He reached out to Giants and Jets beat writer Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Penn State with a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. King believed a former football player would lend another unique voice, so Robert Klemko, who played tight end and linebacker at Robert Morris College in 2005, joined the team. As an NFL writer at USA Today, Klemko, 26, was as comfortable posing tough questions in the locker room (ask Ray Lewis) as challenging players to games on Xbox. Andrew Brandt, vice president of the Packers from 1999 to 2008 and a former player agent as well, will cover the business of the league. "This has been a dream for a lot of us for some time," says SI assistant managing editor Mark Mravic, who will be running the site along with producer Tom Mantzouranis and editor Matt Gagne, "to build a dedicated daily platform that combines Peter's insights and personality with the full resources of SI."
The site will take readers to places few outside the sport ever see. TheMMQB.com debuted on Monday with video from the Cowboys' locker room in Oxnard, Calif., as coach Jason Garrett welcomed his players to training camp. No script, no filter, just a look inside the sanctum of America's Team. In the coming weeks you'll join in the discussion of HGH use and read what it's like to be a gay player in the NFL. And you'll hear from Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (page 46), who will write a regular column for the site. With a nod to TheMMQB.com's presenting sponsors—Bose, Gillette Deodorant and Windows 8, and partner Go RVing—you'll hit the road with Peter during his 26-team training camp tour (map, page 38). So if you see the 33-foot, customized RV (below), pull up a lawn chair and knock on the door. It's time to talk football again.
CARLOS M. SAAVEDRA FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
DREAM TEAM With, from left, Bedard, King, Vrentas and Klemko on the site's roster, TheMMQB.com will be the online destination for NFL fans this fall.