Interview with Bill Syken, Editor of Sports Illustrated Football's Greatest

Earlier this week, I was able to toss around some questions with Bill Syken, Editor of Sports Illustrated Football’s Greatest. The book is beautifully illustrated and is a great present for Christmas, Hanukkah, or even a Birthday. You can buy the book at, Barnes & Noble, or any other store where books are available. It is also available in e-book format as well. It is sure to be a keepsake for years to come.

What was the inspiration behind making a comprehensive book like this?

Sports Illustrated has legendary photography and great writers who have covered the game and know the sport as well as anyone. There has been interest in these projects for a long time, so the time was right to put the groups together. Don’t forget the list includes two writers who vote for the Hall of Fame and another (Tim Layden) who is easily among America’s greatest writers.

Were there any intense arguments over the rankings of certain players?

There is always discussion, but respect takes over. It wasn’t that hard to reach a consensus for most. Great players and great moments rise to the top.

Do you feel there were any snubs on your Top 10 list?

I think all the lists were very balanced. They are reflective of their era. The running backs list has very few current or recently retired guys because the game used to be more running oriented. Now we have have more receivers because the game is dictated by the pass. Some of the surprises were who got on the lists, like Cris Carter. He is obviously a guy who the writers have great respect for.

Are there any other books like this in the works?

“Steelers Pride” was a book that we also did recently just about the organization and it was very well received. You will probably see some others like that over time, and this type of book would work well in other sports. They take a great amount of time, at least a year, to plan and execute properly.

Do you see any current rookie making it in the Top 10 by careers end?

Way too hard to predict not just rookies, but any current player, so we shall see. These are very exclusive lists and they are a bit arbitrary, so it is hard to predict greatness.

Since GMenHQ is primarily a Giants website, Is there a possibility any current Giants player can sneak into the Top 10 in the future?

The transient nature of the NFL these days, and the salary cap, makes that difficult to predict. Would LT in the current system have spent is whole career in New York? You hope so, but you never know. Eli is certainly making a case, but there is a long way to go, even for Peyton Manning. That is what makes the lists so strong. Its not just about today, its about all-time. Who knows where even someone like Coach Coughlin will end up on an all-time list down the road.



I noticed that the book is also available in e-book format. Can we expect to see this for every book and was the conversion process difficult considering the beautiful images throughout the book?

That is really a tech question and there is no one better than the folks at SI to solve that. You see what is being done in the digital space with the magazine and multimedia and it is the same with books. It is where people will consume media down the line.


I would like to thank Bill Syken, Jerry Milani, and the fine folks at Sports Illustrated for taking the time to answer some questions for us here at GMenHQ. For more news, updates, and analysis…Follow me on Twitter (@ERobertsNY)

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