- Thompson’s writing is edgy mixed with humor that evokes emotional responses, internet trolls
- Sports represent more than a game; the stories reflect the place sports has in people’s lives
- Thompson’s opinions aren’t always popular, but his writing is
ESPN senior writer Wright Thompson joined Jake Crain on The JBoy Show recently. The discussion touched on Thompson’s work, the 2020 college football season and fried chicken.
As a sportswriter, Thompson has covered a wide range of sports, from football to bullfighting. Right now, his name is gaining attention for a piece he penned on Archie Manning’s life — first, as a player and now a grandfather in the stands (https://ibn.fm/iyxy3). When Crain asked where to find the video, Thompson said to google his name along with Archie Manning, and it will pop up. Those instructions came with a warning to his mother not to dive too deeply.
As with that remark, Thompson’s hallmark humor and warmth were evident through much of the podcast. If there is one thing that can be said about Thompson, it is that he is real. Some of his views around sports might bring out the internet trolls he warns his mother not to engage with, but he is authentically himself in all that he does and says.
The edginess of his opinions and the belief that sports represent more than a game came through strongly throughout the show. For instance, “it’s just a damn shoe” was Thompson’s response to Marco Wilson having thrown his shoe and costing Florida the game against LSU.
“What are your thoughts about the way the game has changed?” asked Crain after the pair lamented a few rule changes and referee calls.
“The game is always changing,” observed Thompson. “These things go in cycles. I don’t see it as helping or hurting. If you think things are going to stay as it was, then you just aren’t paying attention. Explain to me why it’s important that the calls be right? These are human beings playing a game and human beings officiating it. Why are we not OK that life is unfair and mistakes happen? What is the problem? It will even out in the wash usually. We aren’t invading Normandy; it’s a college football game. Let’s chill out a little bit.”
And humor? Well, he paused briefly in the middle of the show to order fried chicken — dark — and a cup of coffee.
His opinions may not always be popular with football fans but that isn’t hurting his book sales.
His newest book, “Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last,” tells the legacy of the Van Winkle family, a saga of loss and internal conflict and a deep look into a fading Southern culture. His wife describes the book as an “Eat, Pray, Love for Dads” type of read. Thompson notes that that description removes any shred of rock ‘n roll danger he was still clinging to.
Thompson is a sportswriter who has managed to write eloquent realism. According to Crain, his writing it’s easy to get so wrapped up in this his story and the tone that you forget it’s even about sports at times.
“Sports is never just about what someone does on the field with a ball,” observed Thompson. “All of our relationships with our favorite sports teams are complex and layered. The stories just reflect the reality of the place sports have in our lives.”
As the show wrapped up, Crain asked one final question: “If there is one takeaway you have with 2020, what would it be?”
“I’m glad 2020 is almost over,” Thompons replied. “And I’m looking forward to 2021.”
This discussion between Crain and Thompson can be found, along with all The JBoy Show podcast episodes, on Anchor, iTunes/Apple, Spotify, Google, Breaker, Overcast, PocketCasts, RadioPublic or YouTube.
Hosted by Crain, The JBoy Show burst on the podcast scene in April 2020, delivering an in-depth look at Southeastern Conference (SEC) sports with an emphasis on the SEC West. With topics ranging from recruiting and real-life athlete experiences to a multi-episode series honoring legendary Auburn football Coach Pat Dye, The JBoy Show has already been ranked as one of the top-10 sports news shows on Apple Podcasts.
For more information about The JBoy Show, visit www.TheJBoyShow.com.
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