You'll forgive Buzz if he's feeling a little sentimental this week. It seems all the good ones are leaving us too soon: Bob Edwards is leaving the hosting gig at NPR Morning Edition; Jack Valenti and his platinum hair are leaving the Motion Picture Association of America; Jabari, the Dallas Zoo gorilla, shuffled off this mortal coil; and Frank Luksa, longtime Dallas sportswriter and columnist, leaves us with one less reason to read The Dallas Morning News.
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Luksa--who covered Dallas and Fort Worth sports for four decades at three newspapers--pens his last piece this weekend. (His freelance contract--he stopped writing full time for the DMN exactly four years ago--expires and won't be picked up.) Luksa declined to comment other than to confirm his departure from the DMN pages, but his is one of several freelance columns that have been cut back or eliminated in the wake of the paper's belt-tightening during the past six months. (Much of it because of the costs in launching Al Dia and Quick.)
Though 69 and no longer covering teams day-to-day, Luksa's loss will be felt. He's been named "Best Sportswriter" by this publication several times over the years, with good reason. His columns were, more often than not, a strong cocktail of wit, insight and historical perspective. Taking one in could help you laugh away the Cowboys' excesses of the mid-'90s, weather an abysmal Mavericks season or put a Dallas Stars championship in perspective. More than any other columnist past or present in Dallas-Fort Worth, he captured the totality of the modern-day sports experience: the shadow big-money casts over the games, the fun the young men have in locker rooms and between the lines, even the rare athletic feat worthy of literary flourish.
"He's the last link to the city's past in terms of sports," says former DMN and Dallas Observer sportswriter Carlton Stowers. "He's the last guy working at the daily papers who covered the Cowboys in the '60s, who has that sort of institutional memory. Back when I started working here and we were competing, he told me, 'First of all, this ain't a war of knives.' He knew how to put things in perspective, in life and on the page."
Buzz would be remiss--hell, he wouldn't be Buzz--if he didn't note that because Luksa has been writing only once a week for the past four years, his profile as a big-time columnist in town has certainly lessened. But that doesn't mean we can't be sad that he's leaving. Just like we can be sad that Jabari is gone. Buzz loved that gorilla so much.