Frank Deford | Texas Public Radio

Frank Deford

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages!

I always wanted to use that in a commentary, that wonderful circus introduction ballyhooed by the splendid ringmaster, but I could just never find the ideal spot.

Of course, had I, there would've been some people who'd say that a circus doesn't belong in with sports. But, hey, just because there's clowns around doesn't disqualify certain daredevils from being certified athletes ­­-- equestrians, tightrope walkers and those who fly through the air with the greatest of ease.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, let's stay in Texas now, where after two decades of futility, the Dallas Cowboys are back on top of the NFL. And commentator Frank Deford says, love them or hate them, this is a good thing.

A few years ago during an interview, Dave Pear, a former defensive lineman with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, suddenly, without warning, grabbed me — his huge thumb and forefinger pinching my poor neck. It was only for a few seconds, but my knees started to buckle and the pain shot through me. Calmly then, Dave said, "That's how I used to feel all day long."

It was not that long ago when the accepted wisdom in football was that the running game had to be established — that was always the obligatory verb: established — before passes could become effective. My, we know how that has changed. Now the pass is established from the get-go, and running is an afterthought.

Much as we talk about certain financial institutions that may be too big to fail, you can be absolutely certain that the one organization in the whole wide world that truly fits that definition is FIFA, the grubby behemoth that runs soccer. Too many international sports associations are rife with corruption, but the graft exposed at FIFA beggars the imagination.

We start 2016 with a command: that the subject of Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame is over, finis, kaput forever and ever. As sure as we will no longer discuss whether Lindsey Graham or George Pataki can be president. The new commissioner has been even more adamant in dismissing Rose's pleadings, so it doesn't matter how passionately you feel — it is a dead issue. There.

Until Dec. 12, the Golden State Warriors were undefeated, 24-0. They're the popular NBA defending champs, who play a fun style, led by an absolutely beguiling star, Stephen Curry. It's hard enough to draw attention away from the NFL, but the Warriors caught the public fancy, going for the record of most consecutive wins ever in major league sports.

Then a mediocre Milwaukee team clobbered them, and back everybody's attention went to Tom Brady, the Carolina Panthers and the point spreads of the week.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Yogi Berra died last night at the age of 90. In remembrance of his passing, let's go back 10 years and listen to a commentary Frank Deford delivered in honor of a man who was both a baseball legend and one of the game's truly great characters.

As an absolutely impossible thing happened to Serena Williams on the way to becoming the absolutely guaranteed Grand Slam champion, it reminds us once again, on the field of play, there is no sure thing. But off the field, some things are, to coin a word: un-upsettable.

At the top of the un-upsettable list is that in American city after American city, either the voters or their elected tribunes will put up oodles of the citizens' hard-deducted tax money in order to fund a new stadium for the benefit of a filthy-rich team owner.

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