NFF Mourns the Passing of Dan Jenkins

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, March 8th, 2019
2009 Annual Awards Dinner 745
Legendary Sports Illustrated sports writer served as NFF Historian from 2005 until 2015 and claimed the NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award in 2009.
IRVING, TEXAS (March 8, 2019)Dan Jenkins, the legendary sports writer and National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame Historian who claimed the NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award in 2009, passed away yesterday. He was 89.
 “Sports Illustrated cited him as ‘the most influential sports writer ever’ in their headline today, and we could not concur more,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “He was a national treasure, and the NFF was lucky to have his counsel for more than a decade as our Historian. During his tenure with us, he provided us constant insights, and his legendary prose delighted and entertained NFF members without fail. It was so much fun to have him around, and he will be profoundly missed. He was a friend, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Jenkins, one of the most revered writers in all of sports and a member of the legendary team that made Sports Illustrated a success, served as the NFF Historian from 2005 until 2015, providing counsel to the NFF’s Honors Court during the College Football Hall of Fame selection process. He also wrote numerous articles for distribution and publication by the NFF while providing interviews and making special appearances in the national media on behalf of the NFF.

When accepting the NFF Historian job, he said: “I married a homecoming queen, which means I know as much about college football as the next person, as long as the next person is not Darrell Royal or Bear Bryant. As the NFF Historian, I’ll have a new platform to indulge my passion for the most emotional, colorful and hysterical game ever developed by mankind and Walter Camp.”

Jenkins began his career at the age of 11 by reproducing stories from the Fort Worth Press and Fort Worth Star-Telegram on an old typewriter from his grandmother’s attic. His zest for the profession has led him on a remarkable career that has spanned more than 60 years, a record 500-plus Sports Illustrated feature stories and deadline articles and more than 18 books and 20 screenplays.

A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Jenkins entered college with a byline, courtesy of the renowned sports editor Blackie Sherrod, who recognized his talent and hired him directly out of high school to be a sports writer at the Fort Worth Press. Jenkins worked full-time at the Press while earning his degree from Texas Christian University in 1953. After college, he continued with the paper, replacing Sherrod as its sports editor in 1957. In 1960, Sherrod recruited Jenkins for a second time to a new home at the Dallas Times Herald. After two years with the Herald, New York City summoned Jenkins, and he began his illustrious career at Sports Illustrated.

After 23 years with Sports Illustrated, he retired in 1985, but he continued with his prolific ways as a novelist and a monthly column in Golf Digest magazine. Known for his bawdy and authentic portrayal of the sports world, his novels have produced nine bestsellers with three of them, Semi-ToughDead Solid Perfect, and Baja Oklahoma, being turned into major motion pictures. Jenkins wrote the screenplay for the last two. In addition to Semi-Tough, football fans best know Jenkins for Saturday’s AmericaLife Its Ownself, and Rude Behavior.

Jenkins lived in Fort Worth, near his beloved alma mater of TCU, and he was a frequent fixture at home games while serving as the Horned Frogs’ unofficial historian. In 2017, TCU named the press box at Amon G. Carter Stadium in his honor.
Jenkins was inducted into several halls of fame as a writer as well as the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and the World Golf Hall of Fame. His numerous awards include the Red Smith Award, the PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing, and a PGA of America lifetime achievement award.
Jenkins is survived by his wife June, sons, Marty and Dan Jr. (both sports photographers), and his daughter, Sally, a prize-winning sports columnist and author in her own right.
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