Lunch with Frank Deford

I got lucky.

Since I missed three days of school covering the Kansas basketball debacle against TCU I did not think I would be able to catch the great sportswriter Frank Deford at the William Allen White Day on Friday.

I thought I would miss out on an opportunity of a lifetime. To see one of the more thoughtful sports journalist of this generation accept one of the more prestigious awards in journalism.

Instead, thanks to one of my professors, I was rubbing shoulders with him at noon on Friday.

And it wasn’t just him.

At the table inside the Kansas Union Ballroom I was sitting with some of the most influential media members in the Lawrence area, along with a distinguished guest, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

To Deford’s left was the Lawrence Journal-World’s Tom Keegan. A big-boned hearty fellow, Keegan talked Deford’s ear off for most of the lunch. He discussed Rick Majerus and his days as a writer for The National.

To Keegan’s left was Chancellor Gray-Little. Poised and thoughtful as always, she discussed with the table some of the major problems facing sports. Whether it was the lack of institutional control by the NCAA or the Manti Te’o saga she listened and spoke with eloquence.

To Gray-Little’s left was a former KU Journalism professor who said very little throughout the meal. I did talk to him briefly after the lunch and he said he records most Kansas basketball games now and skips through the commercials.

To his left, was Pam Fine another strong, articulate woman who is a professor at the Journalism school. Fine inquired to Deford about ever talking to Lance Armstrong. Deford said no and he had not heard a good thing about Armstrong ever.

To her left was Journalism Dean Ann Brill. Throughout the meal Brill anxiously awaited to pull out the book for Deford to sign. Even this lady with distinction had to take a moment and be a fan of the author.

To her left was the Editor-in-chief of the University Daily Kansan, Hannah Wise. With her orange blazer and impeccable way to work a table she discussed the incoming weather into New York where Deford is from before everyone was seated.

She also pointed out that the butter on the roll plate was shaped like a Jayhawk. That tickled both of us.

And then there was me.

Just soaking it all in and making a few comments when I felt like it was the right time.

Like I said. I just got lucky.


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