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The ‘Best Of’ Frank Deford, According To Frank Deford

Frank Deford in 1991, holding a manikin duplicate of a final book of The National Sports Daily, that he edited and published. It’s tough to distill 37 years of Deford’s sports commentaries down to a few “best of” pieces. But, before he retired, he common some of his favorites with us.

Susan Ragan/AP


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Susan Ragan/AP

Frank Deford in 1991, holding a manikin duplicate of a final book of The National Sports Daily, that he edited and published. It’s tough to distill 37 years of Deford’s sports commentaries down to a few “best of” pieces. But, before he retired, he common some of his favorites with us.

Susan Ragan/AP

Renowned sports author and commentator Frank Deford died on Sunday, only a few weeks after his final square aired on Morning Edition. He had available 1,656 commentaries for NPR over scarcely 40 years.

Deford left zero on a margin when selecting topics for his commentaries. One of his early 1980 pieces argued that losing teams didn’t merit support, and after that year he opined that a Heisman Trophy was “the second stupidest endowment given in sports.” In 1992, he told us “television coverage of football is abysmal. It stinks.” A few years later, he weighed in on then-rookie NBA actor Jason Williams’ nickname, “White Chocolate.”

But Deford wasn’t always a sports curmudgeon, as Jon Wertheim, executive editor for Sports Illustrated, told Morning Edition.

“I consider there was a genuine flexibility to him,” pronounced Wertheim, who knew Deford for some-more than 20 years. Many sports writers, Wertheim said, got into a business since of Deford.

“He could write with empathy, compassion, and sweetness. He could take stands — as NPR listeners know there were certainly, there were measure to competition that worried him. There was a turn of dignified outrage,” Wertheim said. “And afterwards he could come behind a subsequent week and write about something with genuine benevolence and tenderness. And he did a same thing in his prose. And he is only an comprehensive hulk in a field.”

For Wertheim, what done Deford’s essay so good, was his stating and analysis.

Frank Deford, NPR's Longtime Philosopher Of Sports, Dies At 78

“And we consider something that gets mislaid with Frank Deford — we hear what a shining author he was, and all of that is loyal — though we consider his essay in some ways was unequivocally done by his ability to report, and his ability to analyze. Analyze situations, investigate people, investigate games,” Wertheim said. “And too mostly we speak about shining writers and we remove steer of a fact that they were shining reporters as well. Which done a essay easy. And we consider Frank is a classical instance of that.”

It’s tough to distill 37 years of Deford’s Sweetness and Light commentaries down to a few “best of” pieces. But, before he retired, he common some of his favorites with us and, here, we share them with you.

Plays, Monet, Faure and football?

Deford came to a invulnerability of Gary Walters, a jaunty executive during Princeton University, who compared sports to art, in his Oct. 17, 2007, commentary:

What we supposed as good art — either a book, a script, a painting, a harmony — is that that could be saved and savored. But a performances of a jaunty artists who ran and jumped and wrestled were left with a wind.

Now, however, that we can investigate a beauty of a contestant on film, a double play can be noticed as flattering as any pas de deux. Or, please: Is not what we saw Michael Jordan do each bit as artistic as what we saw Mikhail Baryshnikov do?

Toss a round to Shakespeare

There are plays on a margin and court, and, well, plays. Deford put a round in The Bard’s hands for his Jan. 30, 2008, commentary:

Methinks a break on his participation is so great,
And a paparazzi do gleam onward such a spangled glare
That a good golden universe above contingency be dimmed
And a sounds of Niagara itself seem noiseless
Before a hubbub of questions that confront a good Brady.

Hey, we guys!

Deford celebrated that there was a new “linguistic phenomenon” in his Sept. 27, 2011, explanation — a “guy-ification of America”:

How did females turn guys? How did everybody turn guys? Remember, too, that a masculine man was something of a scoundrel. And a correct man was a uninformed kid, a whippersnapper. In a many other famous evocation, group in Brooklyn pronounced “youse guys.” Damon Runyon referred to hustlers, gamblers and other sinful forms as guys.

Now each mother’s son is a man and each mother’s daughter, too. If they wrote a low-pitched now, it wouldn’t be called Guys and Dolls –– only Guys and Guys.

Our faulty joy

Deford revisited a subject of concussions and football over and over again, and in his Jan. 16, 2013, explanation he reflected on Americans’ adore of a diversion notwithstanding what he called, a “violent nature”:

Football teams paint cities and colleges and schools. The people have built good stadiums, and a diversion is culturally intertwined with a calendar. We don’t go behind to college for a college. We go behind for a football game, and, yes, we even call that “homecoming.” It would take some unimagined cataclysmic eventuality to take football from us. Concussions for immature group are a cost of a adore for football, as damaged hearts are what we compensate for immature love.

Put down a ball, collect adult a book

In his Sept. 4, 2013, commentary, Deford weighed in on a whistleblower who called courtesy to feign classes for athletes during UNC-Chapel Hill:

So most about big-time college sports is criticized. But a misfortune liaison is roughly never mentioned: a educational rascal wherein a student-athletes, so-called, are certified but even remotely adequate certification and afterwards aren’t prepared so most as they are only kept eligible.