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The Sportswriter

April 23, 2012
April 23, 2012

Table of Contents
April 23, 2012

LEADING OFF
GOLF PLUS
Sports Illustrated DIGITAL
THE MAIL
EDITOR'S LETTER
Inside: THE WEEK IN SPORTS
NFL DRAFT PREVIEW
  • ECHOES OF '98 ABOUND AS THE FOOTBALL WORLD WEIGHS THE MERITS OF THE QUARTERBACK PAIR CERTAIN TO BE TAKEN AT THE TOP ON APRIL 26. Like PEYTON MANNING AND RYAN LEAF 14 YEARS AGO, ANDREW LUCK AND ROBERT GRIFFIN III WILL BE FOREVER LINKED AS COSTARS IN A DRAFT THAT WILL SHAPE THE FATES OF TWO FRANCHISES

  • In drafting wide receivers, Calvin Johnson—towering, muscular and superbly athletic—is the new model. But where are the corners who can neutralize such a weapon?

BASEBALL
SPRING FOOTBALL
SOCCER
  • He's spent 15 years at the top of the game and is set to play in his record 300th straight Premier League match. Yes, Brad Friedel is the Cal Ripken of English football, and he's 100% American—except for that accent

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The Sportswriter

Frank Deford missed his Princeton graduation in 1962 to start work as a researcher in the baseball department of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. He soon began writing and was quickly accepted as The Kid, "allowed to step into the penumbra of the inner circle, to sniff the aroma of wisdom and humor and institutional savoir faire...."

This is an article from the April 23, 2012 issue

This is where his memoirs, Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter, begin, at liftoff of the Mad Men 1960s, and Deford marches on through every great sports story (Frank was there) and personality (Frank knew them) from then until now, pulling back the curtain on not just antiquated racial and sexual mores but also expense-account shenanigans and outrageous behavior at mythic media saloons. Tall and graceful, with the easy coordination of a natural, Deford looked as if he could play (as Frank actually did for stories in a number of sports), which helped unlock a professional camaraderie and friendship with athletes and coaches, especially during the bush years of the early NBA (page 72).

On March 22, Deford added the 2012 Red Smith Award (Frank is the first magazine-writer recipient) to a long list of honors he's received since those beginnings. He's been named Sportswriter of the Year six times, voted Magazine Writer of the Year twice by the Washington Journalism Review and been elected to the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame. Aside from his 50 years of brilliant articles for this magazine, he has written 16 books and appears regularly on National Public Radio and HBO Sports.

The recognition of Deford's work in defining sports as the clearest reflection of American culture keeps coming. Next week, on April 26 at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Austin, the University of Texas College of Communication will host its third Frank Deford Lecture as part of its annual Symposium on Sports and Society.

In this week's excerpt from his memoirs, Deford recalls how the media-starved NBA once gave sportswriters courtside seats at its games. Having a good view of the action is one thing; turning it into a window on what a basketball game can actually mean is something else (what Frank always does).

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PHOTOMEL LEVINE (MCDONELL)PHOTONANCY KESSLER (DEFORD)After a half century at SI, Deford, shown in the magazine's library in 1981, still stands atop the game.