deford collage

Frank Deford, 1938-2017

Obituaries and Reflections

Sally Jenkins for the Washington Post --- Frank Deford wrote with sincerity, giving depth to complicated sports figures

Matt Schudel for the Washington Post --- Frank Deford, who wrote about sports with panache and insight, dies at 78

Charles Pierce for Sports Illustrated --- The root beer and the starlight: A tragedy, a legacy and the lesson of Frank Deford

SI Remembers (Chris Ballard, Michael Bamberger, Lee Jenkins, Larry Keith, Curry Kirkpatrick, Tim Layden, Jack McCallum, Terry McDonell, William Nack, John Papanek, Michael Rosenberg, Steve Rushin, Robert Sullivan, Chris Stone, Grant Wahl, Jon Wertheim and Alexander Wolff) --- Past and present writers on the impact of Frank Deford

Richard Deitsch for Sports Illustrated --- My first and favorite memories of Frank Deford

Richard Deitsch for Sports Illustrated --- SI Media Podcast: Six writers pay tribute to Frank Deford’s work, life and legacy

Chris Chavez for Sports Illustrated --- Longtime Sports Illustrated writer Frank Deford dies at 78

Mike Lupica for the New York Daily News --- Frank Deford, one of the best and most elegant sportswriters, was a dreamer who allowed the rest of us to dream, too

Leonard Greene for the New York Daily News --- Legendary Sports Illustrated writer Frank Deford dies at 78

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

Steve Inskeep for Morning Edition --- Morning Edition's Sports Commentator Frank Deford Dies At 78

Dave Zirin for The Nation --- Frank Deford’s Wicked Grace: The greatest sportswriter of his generation has passed away, leaving behind a legacy of acolytes who swear by the joy and power of the written word

Dave Zirin for Edge of Sports podcast --- Frank Deford: The Lost Interview

Bryan Curtis for The Ringer --- What Frank Deford Meant to Sportswriting: Remembering the pioneering, suave, and supremely talented Sports Illustrated scribe

Nicholas Dawidoff for The New Yorker --- Postscript: Frank Deford

Erica Hendry for PBS NewsHour --- Frank Deford, who has died at 78, changed the way we see sports

Neil Best for Newsday --- Frank Deford, legendary sportswriter, dies at 78

Adi Joseph for For The Win --- How Frank Deford changed sports journalism

Daniel Victor for The New York Times --- Frank Deford, a Literary Storyteller of Sport, Dies at 78

Childs Walker for the Baltimore Sun --- Award-winning Baltimore sports writer Frank Deford dies at 78

Bob Ryan for the Boston Globe --- For splendid storytelling, Frank Deford wrote the book

Bob Ley for Outside the Lines --- Farwell, Frank

Steve Wulf for --- Remembering Frank Deford, the best sports writer ever

Bill Littlefield for It’s Only a Game --- Bill Littlefield On Frank Deford

James Zirin for Huffington Post --- A Tribute To Frank Deford

Jay Busbee for Yahoo Sports --- Frank Deford, legendary sportswriter, dies at age 78

Vahe Gregorian for the Kansas City Star --- Frank Deford changed sportswriting

Associated Press --- Award-winning sports writer Frank Deford dies at 78

Michael Rosenwald for Columbia Journalism Review --- To Frank Deford, covering sports was an excuse to write about life

Joe Posnanski --- A toast to the best

Jack McCallum --- Of Frank Deford and Writing Lessons

Phil Taylor --- With condolences to the Deford family, and gratitude to Frank. RIP

Glen Clark --- In Presumed Final Interview, Frank Deford Weighed In On Preakness, Manny Machado, More

David Bixenspan for Deadspin --- How Frank Deford Helped Pro Wrestling Journalism Become Very Real

Ryan Glasspiegel for The Big Lead --- Frank Deford was a Giant Gentleman

Alex Putterman for Awful Announcing --- Sports media world mourns legendary sportswriter Frank Deford

Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levin for Hang Up and Listen (podcast 22:00) --- What Made Sports Illustrated’s Frank Deford Such a Legendary Writer

Jim Warren for Poynter --- Frank Deford’s storied career included one big failure

Maxwell Strachan for Huffington Post --- Legendary Sports Writer Frank Deford Dead At 78

Ramzy Nasrallah for --- When a writer dies

Silverman on Sports --- Chet Coppock and Jerry Seltzer on Frank Deford, Dr. David Grier on Sports Injuries & More!

Bob Kravitz for --- The death of a literary giant: Frank Deford was my idol, and ultimately, a colleague and friend

Arne K. Lang for The Sweet Science --- Frank Deford Didn’t Like Boxing, But He Wrote the Greatest Boxing Story

Referee Magazine --- Frank DeFord, Longtime Supporter of Sports Officials, Dies At 78

George Solomon for The Povich Center --- George Solomon on Frank Deford

TigerBlog --- The Elegance of Frank Deford

Matt Barron --- A Tribute to Frank Deford, The Rare Hero Who Exceeded Expectations

Jim Gentleman --- On the Passing of Frank Deford, Sports' Greatest Journalist

Frank Deford

Frank Deford

Writer and commentator, Frank Deford established the Frank Deford Lecture in Sports Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin in 2010 with the gift of his professional papers, "such as they are". Deford Lecturers have included Sally Jenkins, David Maraniss, Jeremy Schaap, Neil Lifer, Taylor Branch, Dr. Andrew Zimbalist, and John A. Walsh. Created to honor the iconic sportswriter and carry his unique vantage point on the intersection of sport and society into the 21st Century, the Deford Lecture has hosted journalists, scholars and leading thinkers to discuss pressing cultural issues with the UT-Austin community.

Frank Deford (1938-2017) was amongst the most versatile of American writers. On radio, he was heard as a commentator every Wednesday on Morning Edition on National Public Radio. On television, he worked as a Senior Correspondent for the HBO show, Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. In print, he was Senior Contributing Writer at Sports Illustrated–– an association that dates back to 1962. As a journalist, Deford was elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters and named U.S. Sportswriter of the Year six times, as voted by his peers. 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. Posthumously, Deford received the inaugural Dan Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sportswriting for his lifetime achievement. Other honors Deford received include a National Magazine Award for profiles, a Christopher Award and journalism Honor Awards from both the University of Missouri and Northeastern University. In broadcast, Mr. Deford has won both an Emmy and a George Foster Peabody Award. ESPN presented a television biography of Mr. Deford’s life and work, You Write Better Than You Play. The Sporting News described Mr. Deford as “the most influential sports voice among members of the print media.” The magazine GQ has called him, simply, “the world’s greatest sportswriter.”

Deford authored 18 books in his career, including Five Strides on the Banked Track: The Life and Times of the Roller Derby (1971), Cut 'n' Run (1973), Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter (2012). Moreover, two of his books—the novel, Everybody’s All-American, and Alex: The Life Of A Child, his memoir about his daughter who died of cystic fibrosis—were made into movies. Two of his original screenplays—“Trading Hearts” and “Four Minutes”—have also been filmed. From 1982-1999 Deford served as national chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and he remains chairman emeritus. A native of Baltimore, Deford was a 1962 graduate of Princeton University.