Frank Deford was the 'Ruth's Chris' NY strip in a Happy Meal drive-thru world
Saying goodbye to Frank Deford.
I can hear some now saying, who's that? Well, long before places like ESPN fired all the real journalists in favor of the loud, hot take loudmouths, back when intellect, vocabulary and craftsmanship meant something. Frank Deford was the best there was.
Deford was a six-time National Sportswriter of the Year, authored 18 books, 9 of them novels, including "Everybody's All American" the one Dennis Quaid, John Goodman and Jessica Lange made into a heck of a movie. You may have seen Deford on HBO's Real Sports or heard him on NPR. His commentaries always poignant, often controversial, but most importantly, well thought out and always laced with humor and brutal honesty.
But there's a bigger chance you read his written word.
He was the lead scribe at Sports Illustrated for 50 years.
I grew up on SI as a kid, I couldn't wait for the magazine in the mailbox every Thursday, not just in February, when the swimsuit issue arrived. Deford's words jumped off the page. They opened your eyes and imagination, your mind and your heart. He tackled racism and pay inequities, took on the NCAA, soccer snobs and always preached loyalty to your team.
He also dedicated his life to the fight against Cystic Fibrosis.
He lost a daughter at age 8 back in 1980. Thanks to his advocacy and willingness to help raise money for research, the lifespan for those with CF has gone from 8 to 20, to now almost 40. In recent years, his breathing became labored, his delivery slowed, but his segments on TV or radio never disappointed.
Deford died on Monday just a couple of weeks after his final commentary on NPR.
For you millennials, think of it this way, Frank Deford is Ruth's Chris, The New York strip medium rare with Bearnaise and a fine Pinot. What we have now - the Stephen A's and Skips and the blabbering drivel on hot take shows. That's the Happy Meal in the drive-thru compared to Deford.
One of his most famous quotes was sometimes the joy is in simple beauty with Frank less was more. We could use more of Frank Deford and his archives live at the library at UT in Austin. It's good to know greatness is not to far away, yet miles apart from the hot take screaming of the day. I for one could use more of less.