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
1:15 am
Wed November 21, 2012

What's Good For The Goose Is Good For The Gander

Jockey Rosie Napravnik sponges off Shanghai Bobby after winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile horse race at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
Mark J. Terrill AP

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 7:49 am

A trivia question for you: Who today is the leading jockey who was born in the U.S.?

The answer is Rosie Napravnik. Yes, of all our American jockeys, the one with the best record is a woman.

Napravnik's mounts have earned more than $11 million this year, and none of the seven jocks who have earned more began life in this country. So, even in a dangerously athletic job like race-riding, a woman can sometimes compete straight up with men.

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Sweetness And Light
8:03 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Dear Sports Czars: Take Your Ball And Go Home

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 6:06 am

Czars.

It was fun to call American sports commissioners czars, but once players started to have unions, a commissioner really became more like a majority leader in a legislature, trying to keep his party — the owners — together in their financial battles against the minority opposition, the athletes.

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Sweetness And Light
8:03 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

The American Pastime Fades In Popularity

Wendell Franks iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 6:52 am

Jacques Barzun, the esteemed cultural historian, lived 104 years and wrote a multitude of words about the most important issues in society, but when he died last week, his one quote that was invariably cited was a pithy one that he wrote back in 1954: "Whoever wishes to know the heart and soul of America had better learn baseball."

Never mind that that is no longer even remotely true.

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Sweetness And Light
8:03 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Brooklyn Finally Nets A Team Of Its Own

C.J. Watson of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles upcourt in a preseason game against the Philadelphia 76ers. The New York City borough finally has a pro sports team to call its own, says Frank Deford.
Bruce Bennett Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 5:30 am

It's largely forgotten now — but there was a time when the mere mention of Brooklyn would produce a cascade of laughs. It was like saying "woman driver" — surefire guffaws. Everybody from Brooklyn was supposed to be a character.

Every platoon in every war movie had one wise guy from Brooklyn in it. Brooklyn natives spoke funny. They said, most famously, "youse guys." At a time when African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanics barely existed — visibly — in movies or on radio or television, Brooklyn was the all-purpose stand-in for our great American ethnic diversity.

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Sweetness And Light
1:48 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Kickers Are Taking The Kick Out Of Football

Place kicker Matt Prater of the Denver Broncos kicks a second quarter field goal on a hold by Britton Colquitt against the Houston Texans at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High in Denver on Sept. 23.
Justin Edmonds Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 6:31 am

Of all the strained sports cliches, my favorite was "educated toe." Remember? An accomplished field goal kicker possessed an educated toe. I had a newspaper friend who wrote that a punter had an "intellectual instep," but the copy desk wouldn't allow it. Spoilsports.

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Sweetness And Light
8:03 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

It's Good To Root, Root, Root For The Home Team

Baltimore Orioles Nate McLouth (from left), J.J. Hardy, Robert Andino and Manny Machado high-five teammates after Game 2 of Major League Baseball's American League Division Series against the New York Yankees. Somewhere, commentator and Orioles fan Frank Deford is also giving high-fives.
Nick Wass AP

Originally published on Wed October 10, 2012 4:48 am

My first protocol on rooting in sports is that you should stick with the teams that you grew up with. I know we're a transient society, but that's just it: Continuing to cheer for your original hometown teams is one way of displaying the old-fashioned value of allegiance.

If you grew up in Cleveland, say, and moved somewhere Sun Belt-ish, I know how hard it is, but the measure of whether you are a good person is that you must remain loyal to the Browns and Indians and that team that LeBron James left behind.

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Sweetness And Light
8:03 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

The NFL's Lesson: There's No Replacing Good Refs

Referee Walt Anderson makes a call in the Chicago Bears game against the Dallas Cowboys Monday, ending the NFL's first full slate of games with its regular officials.
Ronald Martinez Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 3, 2012 8:14 am

So, we found out that the National Football League is too big to fail. But not so big that it couldn't make a complete fool of itself and show to the world that its owners are stingy, greedy nincompoops.

Not so big that it couldn't make its commissioner, Roger Goodell, stand out in front, looking lost and small, so that their erstwhile tough-guy commander suddenly became an errand boy, losing respect and dignity that will be hard to regain the next time he needs it.

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Sweetness And Light
8:03 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

RG3: A Game Changer For 'Thirds' Everywhere

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III watches from the sidelines. RG3 as he is known has a fan in other thirds like Frank Deford.
Rob Carr Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 26, 2012 8:36 am

We're all familiar with the many sports terms that have moved into general usage: "par for the course," "slam-dunk," "curveball," "photo finish" and so on.

Curiously, though, every now and then something of the inverse occurs, and we get an expression which is commonly used that has been derived from sport, but never used in sport.

For example, that awful, overdone cliche, "level playing field." Never in my life have I ever heard anyone in sport — that is, somebody actually right there on the level playing field — say, "I'm glad we're playing on a level playing field."

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Sweetness And Light
10:03 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

The Big East Conference: What's In A Name?

Big East commissioner Mike Aresco answers questions from the media before an NCAA college football game. Aresco says there are no plans for the conference to change its name.
Jessica Hill AP

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 6:45 am

All you have to know about the nonsense of college athletic conferences in America today is that the Big Ten has 12 members, and the Big Twelve has 10. Honestly.

But as badly as athletic conferences flunk arithmetic, they do no better with geography. Next year, for example, San Diego State will be in the Big East. This is like, you never could believe that Vladivostok, way out there, was really in Russia, could you?

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Sweetness And Light
8:03 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

NFL's West Coast Teams Have An Edge: The Sandman

Quarterback Matt Stafford and the Detroit Lions will travel to San Francisco to play the 49ers Sunday night. Because their body clocks are set to the Eastern time zone, the Lions could be at a disadvantage.
Rick Osentoski AP

Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 7:28 pm

Hi! Are you a gambler? Do you like to bet football? Then this is your lucky day, for if you'll just stay tuned, I'm gonna offer you a free money-back guarantee: how you, too, can pick an NFL winner. Just don't turn that dial, and listen to this important message.

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Sweetness And Light
12:24 am
Wed September 5, 2012

Southern Pride And The Southeastern Conference

Texas A&M Coach Kevin Sumlin speaks to reporters at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media day.
Butch Dill AP

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 2:09 pm

Well, the Southeastern Conference season has begun. I have it on good authority that other college football teams around the country will also be playing games this fall.

I don't know when exactly the SEC took over America. I know this is hard to believe, but the epicenter of college football used to be in the Midwest. I'm so old, I can remember when Notre Dame actually mattered, and the real tough players were supposed to come from Western Pennsylvania and Ohio.

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