Frank Deford

Writer and commentator Frank Deford is the author of sixteen books. His latest novel, Bliss, Remembered, is a love story set at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and in World War II. Publishers Weekly calls it a "thought-provoking...and poignant story, utterly charming and enjoyable." Booklist says Bliss, Remembered is "beautifully written...elegantly constructed...writing that is genuinely inspiring."

On radio, Deford may be heard as a commentator every Wednesday on NPR's Morning Edition and, on television, he is the senior correspondent on the HBO show RealSports With Bryant Gumbel. In magazines, he is Senior Contributing Writer at Sports Illustrated.

Moreover, two of Deford's books — the novel Everybody's All-American and Alex: The Life Of A Child, his memoir about his daughter who died of cystic fibrosis — have been made into movies. Two of his original screenplays, Trading Hearts and Four Minutes, have also been filmed.

As a journalist, Deford has been elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters. Six times Deford was voted by his peers as U.S. Sportswriter of The Year. The American Journalism Review has likewise cited him as the nation's finest sportswriter, and twice he was voted Magazine Writer of The Year by the Washington Journalism Review.

Deford has also been presented with the National Magazine Award for profiles, a Christopher Award, and journalism Honor Awards from the University of Missouri and Northeastern University, and he has received many honorary degrees. The Sporting News has described Deford as "the most influential sports voice among members of the print media," and the magazine GQ has called him, simply, "the world's greatest sportswriter."

In broadcast, Deford has won both an Emmy and a George Foster Peabody Award. ESPN presented a television biography of Deford's life and work, "You Write Better Than You Play." A popular lecturer, Deford has spoken at more than a hundred colleges, as well as at forums, conventions and on cruise ships around the world.

For sixteen years, Deford served as national chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and he remains chairman emeritus. Deford is a graduate of Princeton University, where he has taught in American Studies.

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4:59am

Wed July 30, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Deford: Is Goodell Good Enough To Lead The NFL?

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 1:59 pm

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at a press conference in May. Goodell's handling of concerns about concussions and controversies surrounding players has led commentator Frank Deford to wonder whether Goodell is up to the job.
David Goldman AP

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's piddling suspension of Ray Rice of the Ravens for a mere two games for Rice's apparent violent attack upon his then-fiancee, now wife, has been met with shock and disappointment.

But for now, never mind Ray Rice. The larger question is whether Goodell is good enough to serve as the leader of the NFL.

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6:10am

Wed July 23, 2014
Sweetness And Light

The Washington Football Team That Must Not Be Named

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 7:51 am

In spite of mounting pressure to change the Washington Redskins' name, team owner Daniel Snyder seems to remain unmoved.
Nick Wass AP

Anybody who possesses a scintilla of good taste (and/or decency) is against the Washington football team using its longtime nickname. I don't have to scrounge for Brownie points by getting all indignant about it.

The one person who is most adamant about keeping the name is Daniel Snyder, who owns the Washington football franchise, and who appears to be either especially stubborn, or insensitive or both.

The obscene nickname is, of course, Redskins, and increasingly it's been suggested that we in the media should stop saying or writing it.

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3:30am

Wed July 16, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Remembering How The Great War Changed U.S. Sports

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 11:00 am

Charles Dillon Stengel had been known as Dutch — derived from the German Deutsch. Only after the U.S. went to war was Casey Stengel born.
AP

When America entered the Great War in 1917 — a war that began 100 years ago this summer — Major League Baseball faced a special problem: It had a hefty German heritage. Its best-known team, the New York Giants under John McGraw, was even sometimes called "McGraw's Prussians" for its tough, fighting spirit. Obviously, just as sauerkraut became "liberty cabbage," that had to go, too.

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3:34am

Wed July 9, 2014
Sweetness And Light

A Golf Prodigy Grows Up, And Goes All The Way To The Top

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 9:31 am

American golfer Michelle Wie was a child prodigy. As an adult, she might just be the best female golfer in the world.
Tim Hales AP

Child actors are invariably distinguished by being cute as a button, being naturals at acting and having an aggressive parent. Few of them can sustain their stardom as they grow up. Athletic prodigies, however, often continue succeeding smoothly into adulthood — look no further than LeBron James or Bryce Harper.

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3:40am

Wed July 2, 2014
Sweetness And Light

The Time Of Our Sports Lives: How Europe's Games Neglect The Clock

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 8:58 am

In sports, Americans only dilly-dally for crucial, life-affirming reasons: to allow commercials.
L.G. Patterson AP

Why is it that Europeans don't pay as much attention to time in sports as we do?

You American novices to soccer, who climbed on the World Cup bandwagon this summer –– you must have been completely baffled by how soccer has a thing called "stoppage time." That means that the game goes on after regulation time is up for an undisclosed period that only the referee knows.

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3:28am

Wed June 25, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Deford: NCAA Says Amateurism Is Alive And Well, But The Jig Is Up

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 12:48 pm

Wisconsin's Traevon Jackson at practice for the 2014 NCAA men's college basketball tournament. Commentator Frank Deford says that, despite NCAA claims to the contrary, most college players are not typical students — "their job is to play a sport."
Jae C. Hong AP

Amateurism is dead, revealed so in the trial against the NCAA now in progress in Oakland, Calif., U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken presiding. Before her skeptical eyes, amateurism has been laid out naked on a courtroom slab for a jury of all fans to see that it has no beating heart.

Amateurism, Judge Wilken has been told in the case, commonly known as the O'Bannon trial, nobly protects college athletes from being exploited by evil outsiders — so the NCAA knighthood was created in order that colleges could tie up athletes all by themselves.

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3:26am

Wed June 18, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Deford: How To Host A Sports Extravaganza That Won't Break The Bank

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 10:22 am

Remodeling the National Stadium Mane Garrincha in Brasilia, Brazil, for the FIFA World Cup cost the Brazilian government $900 million.
Eraldo Peres AP

You know, it is the 21st century, and it is possible to acknowledge that and make both the World Cup and the Olympics more affordable. The current waste and opulence simply aren't defensible anymore.

For the soccer pooh-bahs to demand that Brazil build new stadiums, costing billions of dollars, is unconscionable. How much more logical to utilize existing stadiums in neighboring countries, in large cities like Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Santiago.

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3:40am

Wed June 11, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Go Ahead, Host A Giant Sports Spectacular. But It Will Cost You

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 1:27 pm

In a recent Pew Reseach Center poll, 61 percent of Brazilians said hosting the World Cup, which begins Wednesday in Sao Paulo, is bad for the country, because it has diverted money from public services.
Nelson Almeida AFP/Getty Images

Wednesday welcomes the year's second global sports extravaganza, as the World Cup begins. Just a few months ago, we worried that terrorists would invade the Russian Olympics. Now we wait to see if riots will tarnish the Brazilian World Cup.

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3:39am

Wed June 4, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Will A Triple Crown Win Save Horse Racing? Don't Bet On It

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 8:32 am

Even if California Chrome wins Saturday's Belmont Stakes, most Americans are too disconnected from horses to flock to the race track, says commentator Frank Deford.
Al Bello Getty Images

At the start of a movie these days, how often do you read: "Based on a true story?" But if a movie was made about California Chrome, whether or not the horse wins the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, it would read: "Based on a dream."

Because the colt — of the most undistinguished heritage, bred by neophytes and trained by a kindly septuagenarian –– well, the whole thing is a ridiculous reverie.

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3:36am

Wed May 28, 2014
Sweetness And Light

Don't Overlook The Unsung Umpire; Referees Can Be Pretty, Too

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 12:57 pm

Referee Mendy Rudolph officiates a Knicks-Pistons game in 1971. Refs often say it's best to go unnoticed, but an official who "makes a call with vigor and elan is really a beautiful part of the game," says Frank Deford.
AP

Not so long ago, while enjoying a libation in a decorous saloon, the proprietor — who happened to hail from the fabled Windy City — suddenly jarred the genteel assembled by turning on the Cubs game. Just at that moment, a Cubby was heading toward the plate when the throw came in, and the runner (spoiler alert!), being a Cub, was tagged out.

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