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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Sweetness And Light
4:02 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Is The NFL Too Big To Fail?

The NFL has had a lot of bad press lately. But it doesn't seem to have any impact on sponsors or fans.
AJ Mast AP

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 6:50 pm

There has been a crowded docket in our preeminent sport. Let's take just three cases. The defendants: the NFL, Roger Goodell and football itself.

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Sweetness And Light
7:16 am
Wed September 10, 2014

The National Anthem, And The National Pastime

The Star-Spangled Banner, played before every baseball game, has become so tied to the sport that an old joke asks, "What are the last two words of the national anthem?" and answers, "Play ball!"
Michael Dwyer AP

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 10:09 am

This Sunday, Sept. 14, marks the 200th anniversary of the writing of Francis Scott Key's poem, "The Defence of Fort McHenry" — better known today as "The Star-Spangled Banner."

And is any national anthem so identified with sports as ours?

The association is probably because the song is played before every baseball game, and baseball games are legion. It is even responsible for that oldest of sports jokes: "What are the last two words of the national anthem? Play ball!"

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Sweetness And Light
5:45 am
Wed September 3, 2014

You'll Never Walk-Off Alone

Yasmani Grandal is swarmed by teammates after hitting a walk-off single to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday. But commentator Frank Deford wonders why "walk-off" has become such a ubiquitous term.
Gregory Bull AP

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 7:22 am

Along with the U.S. Open in tennis, early September means baseball's pennant race is in full swing ... and no sports term has become a more maddening cliche than baseball's "walk-off."

At first it was applied only to a walk-off home run — that is, when the home team would win in the last inning with a homer — game's over, so it's a walk-off, because there's no need to run. Then there became walk-off triples, doubles, singles, sacrifice flies — even walk-off walks with the bases loaded. It's creeping walk-offism.

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Sweetness And Light
2:33 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Golf May Be Too Polite A Sport For Presidential Politics

Commentator Frank Deford advises the White House press office not to let the president be photographed in a golf cart again.
Steven Senne AP

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 7:53 am

There's been much criticism of the president lately, even within his own party, that he's too detached and withdrawn, not combative enough anymore. This can be explained completely with a sports analogy: We elected a basketball president, but then we ended up with a golf president.

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Sweetness And Light
2:33 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Deford: Frankly, Hot Dogs Best Served At The Ballpark

Between innings, racing sausages entertain Milwaukee Brewers fans.
Christian Petersen Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 20, 2014 10:52 am

Let's boldly confront the greatest mystery in all of sport: Why do hot dogs always taste better at the ballpark?

Baseball food has, of course, taken on a much greater variety since 1908, when "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" only celebrated peanuts and crackerjack. But it is another enduring mystery of sport why fans eat during a baseball game, while the preferred mode of cuisine for football is before the game, out in the parking lot — tailgating.

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Sweetness And Light
2:26 am
Wed August 13, 2014

Amateurism's Dying Hour

Former University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson graces the cover of NCAA Football 14.
EA Sports

Originally published on Thu August 14, 2014 7:02 am

There have been two recent major developments regarding big-time college athletics. While both are tremendously significant, the conclusions in both cases were foreshadowed and there don't appear to be any devils in the details.

The Big Satan — amateurism — took the hardest hit. And understand, most important of all: This is only the beginning. Many more changes in the NCAA and its anachronistic rules lie ahead.

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Sweetness And Light
10:31 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Are NBA And NFL Rules Bush League?

Commentator Frank Deford says part of why we can't do away with college sports is history. Football and basketball have always been tied to college.
AP

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 9:35 am

If there's one rule in American sports that is universally despised, it is the National Basketball Association's stipulation that a player cannot be drafted out of high school, but must put in an extra year playing somewhere — invariably at college. It makes a sham of both education and teamwork, and when the best kids are picked up, the policy is properly ridiculed as "one-and-done."

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Sweetness And Light
6:57 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Deford: Is Goodell Good Enough To Lead The NFL?

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

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 12:59 pm

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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Sweetness And Light
6:16 am
Wed July 23, 2014

The Washington Football Team That Must Not Be Named

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

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 6:51 am

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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Sweetness And Light
3:30 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Remembering How The Great War Changed U.S. Sports

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

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 10:00 am

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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Sweetness And Light
8:01 am
Wed July 9, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 8:31 am

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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Sweetness And Light
6:27 am
Wed July 2, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 7:58 am

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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Sweetness And Light
2:28 am
Wed June 25, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 11:48 am

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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Sweetness And Light
2:26 am
Wed June 18, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 9:22 am

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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Sweetness And Light
6:47 am
Wed June 11, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 12:27 pm

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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