Q&A With David Feherty, Sideline Reporter
David Feherty is best known for his work as a golf analyst with CBS Sports, but on Saturday he will serve as the sideline reporter for Navy's football game at Rice. Feherty, who was born in Northern Ireland and currently lives in Dallas, has traveled to Iraq on USO tours and visited with troops, and he is involved with Troops First Foundation. He has written about both experiences in his column with Golf magazine (here and here). He also talks about his trips to Iraq in this interview with Yahoo Sports' Devil Ball Golf blog.
Feherty was kind enough to answer some of our questions in a brief telephone interview on Wednesday:
How does an Irish golf analyst end up doing sideline reporting at a college football game?
I'm going to be honest, I'm wondering the same thing. I'm by no means an American football expert. So I'm hoping they're not looking for cutting-edge commentary from the sidelines. Because I watch Phil Simms and Jim Nantz and Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson, and I hear that the quarterback has fumbled in the pocket — I'm looking at his uniform and thinking those are tight pants, where the hell is the pocket? And what's he fumbling for? His car keys?
What I am looking forward to is, I have an association with the U.S. armed forces going back three years now with my visits to Iraq, with Operation links and my Troops First Foundation. We try to look after wounded soldiers when they come home and really spread awareness.…
For 30 years now, there hasn't been a military sitcom since M*A*S*H. It's unfashionable to be a member of the armed forces. Many of the Hollywood types who play fake heroes in their day jobs are responsible for the demonization of our armed forces, which is really a shame. I've seen with my own eyes, these are the most amazing people America has. It's time we told the truth about how cool it is to be a soldier. It always has been, and it always will be.
How did you first become interested in the U.S. military?
My family has long history all the way back to the Peninsular and Crimean war; there's always some idiot Feherty getting shot somewhere. I was so completely awestruck by my first trip to Iraq, which was prompted by an F-16 flight I took at the PGA Championships a few years ago with [PGA professional] Dan Rooney, who started Patriot Golf Day. He said you'd be perfect to be over there to entertain the troops. … I went on an eight-day tour of forward operating bases in Iraq, and I was completely stunned by what I saw.
What kind of work do you do with the Troops First Foundation?
The Fourth of July at Tiger's tournament, we had a 22-mile bike ride. I had soldiers with no legs who cycled 22 miles, some soldiers with one arm, all were amputees. My little division of the foundation is F Troop; I single out the men that I think I can help the most. We'll have done probably nine events with them by the end of the year. We had a golf event at Chevy Chase Country Club the day after the cycling event; 36 of them came from Walter Reed, and we had generals caddying. It really is wonderful to see them out there and to see their attitudes.
I call it the "IED of golf" — Improvised Explosive Day — and it's based on humor, because these are men and women who don't want your sympathy or empathy. They want their dignity. Making fun of them gives them the opportunity by their reaction to regain some of the dignity they've lost. It's given me such a purpose in my life. We'll have a pheasant hunt, and also a ski event at Beaver Creek. I just live from one event to another. The happiest days of my life are the times I get to spend with these troops.
You seem to have an understanding and appreciation of the military. Have you been brushing up on your football knowledge?
I've been here for 16 years, so I have a reasonable understanding of football, though I don't understand why they call it football since you don't kick it. But that's not the reason I'm there [at the game]. I'll do a pre-recorded interview with the guy who's basically — I'm not sure what the term is, I have a sheet on it somewhere — the CEO of the Midshipmen, the rear admiral, rear cardinal or whatever. Really, I'm not there for any color commentary on football. All though we may end up with some. I don't know.
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