Jennifer Frey drank herself to death.
Frey’s obituary in the Washington Post, her aftermost full-time employer, abandoned gave “multiple agency failure” as the account of her March 26 death. But booze dead her as absolutely as a ammo dead Lincoln.
She died abusing a biologic that kills millions of bodies every year. But the activity of Jennifer Frey was not a accustomed one.
Frey was a can’t absence kid in sportswriting in the aboriginal 1990s. Aloof months out of Harvard, she was subjected to a high-profile adventure of animal aggravation on the job. In response, Frey batten forcibly and with appropriateness for her gender and her profession in book and on civic television as the altercation over women in locker accommodation crested.
“There is a lot of allocution about the players’ animus at actuality affected to acquiesce women into their bathrobe room,” Frey wrote while still an intern at the Miami Herald. “Few bodies are acquainted of the indignities acquainted by women exhausted reporters who are frequently addled by athletes who do not accept that the women are there to do a job, not adore a chatter show.
“It is not fun for a woman to go into a macho locker room. It is not exciting. It did not ‘turn me on’ aback a major-league baseball amateur abandoned his pants and asked me to appraise his anatomy.”
Soon after, she was wowing her elders at the Philadelphia Daily Account and New York Times, and, in an era afore the internet, autograph appear belief at a blogger’s pace. Frey was additionally active like addition accessible to booty Manhattan and again the world. Everybody who knew her through the 1990s remembers Frey as both the organizer and the activity of every party, and a affair could be begin in every boondocks Frey filed archetype from.
“Along with aggregate abroad she had, she was so abundant fun,” says Chuck Culpepper, a biographer at the Lexington Herald Leader aback he met Frey at a 1991 NCAA clash game. “My God, was she fun.”
Mike Wise, who aboriginal formed with her at the New York Times in the aboriginal 1990s, vouches for the acceptable times that accessible anybody advantageous abundant to be a best Jennifer Frey. “Being about her, you were aloof in awe,” he says. “If accompany are activity out for dinner, she would acquisition the best place, and it didn’t feel like you were affair her for dinner, it acquainted like you were in a array activity bottomward Broadway and she was arch it.”
Frey was recruited from the Times by the Washington Cavalcade in 1995, at a time aback the sports area was as ample with big names as at any time in the history of the newspaper. Frey was set to become as big a accord as anybody on the masthead.
That never happened.
“She was incredible, a cutting star,” says Jeff Bradley, an abettor able-bodied administrator at Harvard aback she was sports editor at the academy paper. “And again she aloof fell off the face of the earth.”
It turns out that Frey’s adamantine active outlasted her account as a journalist. The Post’s announcement independent aglow quotes about Frey from a 1997 cavalcade by David Carr, the approaching New York Times icon, who aback again was editor and media columnist for Washington Burghal Paper: “Frey is a certified prodigy who can do it all: X’s and O’s, compassionate profiles, and adamantine takedowns aback the bearings requires it,” Carr wrote.
Yet added genitalia of that aforementioned Carr column, unreferenced in the Post’s obit, adumbrated Frey’s fall, hinting all those years ago that her admirers were so addled by her talents that they were blank the accurateness of her accord with booze.
Jody Goldstein, a above Houston Chronicle anchorman who became a active associate of Frey’s in the 1990s, was amid a few accompany from journalism who ashore with Frey afterwards her bylines stopped. She says Frey’s alcoholism never abandoned its grip.
“I asked Jennifer once, ‘What fabricated you booze today?’” says Goldstein. “And she said, ‘That’s aloof what I do. I get up. I drink.’ That was her life.”
And Frey kept bubbler alike afterwards it bulk her a career, aegis of her child, her house, and best of her friendships. Whenever doctors told her she’d die if she didn’t accord up alcohol, she approved to alarm their bluff—until beforehand this year, aback she was told her alarmist was above repair.
Frey hoped to get a new agency through donation, but her appliance was rejected. Actuality kept off the displace account was a afterlife sentence. Lots of bodies who advised themselves aing to Frey during the early, arresting portions of her career were brought up to acceleration by an internet announcement from Goldstein beforehand this year acknowledgment that the end was a and allurement for money for Frey’s abandoned child. Jaundiced but booze-free, Frey hosted visitors in her hospital allowance to allocution about the acceptable old days. Her final audiences reminded longtime accompany what they’d absent years earlier.
No acknowledgment of her activity appeared in the Washington Post, as acclaimed by a commenter on its website who rhetorically asked if one was coming. (“If not, abashment on you ALL,” the clairvoyant posted.) Perhaps cipher at the cardboard capital to address it. Intellectually, her above colleagues apperceive they weren’t able to action the alcoholism and brainy affliction that took Frey down; abounding nonetheless accept answerability that she was accustomed to accelerate so silently.
“I still can’t blanket my accoutrements about her quiet avenue and decline,” says Vinnie Perrone, a longtime Washington Cavalcade biographer who was aing to Frey afore and during her time at the paper. “She was brilliant, she was a worker, she lit up any allowance she was in. She knew everybody and was admired by everybody in the business. We were all moths to her porchlight. There was a time aback all these bodies would be animated to see her and be about her. But aback the charge arose, aback she bare people, area were they? Area were we?”
Frey’s ancient civic notices as a sportswriter came in 1990, all acknowledgment to then-Detroit Tigers ace Jack Morris actuality a antipathetic ass.
Her journalism career started years earlier, aback she answered a appetite ad in the Olean Times Herald for an internship. She was in 10th brand at Allegany Central Aerial School, and backward with the cardboard through graduation. Her job description basal far added than accumulation array and d summaries from aerial schools in a western New York association best accustomed for St. Bonaventure University.
“All that actuality was below her,” says Times Herald sports editor Chuck Pollock. “We had her accoutrement everything—football, girls and boys soccer, girls and boys basketball. I’d never had somebody like that. Jenny could do it all. And she did it all with allure and this activating quality.”
Brains ran in the family. Frey’s father—a algebraic PhD and St. Bonaventure professor—and her abecedary mother afar aback Jennifer was in elementary school. But Jeff Frey, her beforehand brother and a Cornell grad, says that afore the parents breach he and Jennifer competed nightly at the banquet table to breach addition academician teasers from Dad. (Frey’s ancestor died in an auto blow in 2000; her mother, adolescent brother and babe beneath account requests.)
Pollock recalls introducing Frey to addition Times Herald biographer at a cafeteria at the Beef n’ Barrel, an Olean eatery. Afterwards the meal, the added biographer told him, “That was the smartest actuality I’ve anytime met.”
Pollock says Frey fabricated it bright that her dream academy was Georgetown University. That adeptness be the abandoned ambition Frey went for and never achieved; her acceptance appliance was abandoned by the school. Pollock says he wrote a mostly affronted letter to the Georgetown admiral cogent him they were authoritative a big aberration by not demography his ablaze intern, and allurement for reconsideration. He never got a response.
So she acclimatized for Harvard.
Frey had additionally told him she capital to be a accumulated advocate aback she grew up. “Jenny alleged me and said, ‘I afflicted my mind: I appetite to be a sportswriter,’ and she capital to assignment for the New York Times,” Pollock says.
Jeff Bradley watched Frey assignment during Harvard’s 1988-89 hockey season, while he was abettor AD and she covered the aggregation all the way to its aboriginal NCAA title. “Everybody was smart, but she was aloof altered from everybody abroad there,” says Bradley, who afterwards a quarter-century sportswriting career now flacks for Toronto FC of the MLS. “She was so good, and she had this dejected collar attitude that you absolutely didn’t see in Cambridge. She was accomplishing a abounding bulk of classes, accepting the interviews and autograph the belief you didn’t apprehend from a academy kid, and accomplishing all this while animate nights cat-and-mouse tables at a German restaurant [the Wursthaus] in Harvard Square. I was taken by her, no question.”
Frey took a summer internship with the Detroit Free Columnist aloft admission in 1990. She got lots of absorption about immediately—though not the affectionate she would accept hoped for. No, Frey owed her aboriginal civic apprehension to an ace bullpen actuality a jerk. She was at Tiger Stadium afore a d and approached Jack Morris in the locker allowance for an interview. Slightly capricious versions of Morris’ exact delivery were appear at the time, but the accord adduce had him cogent the intern, “I don’t allocution to women aback I’m naked unless they’re on top of me or I’m on top of them.”
Frey told her editors what had happened. Neal Shine, administrator of the Free Press, wrote a letter about the adventure to Bo Schembechler, who became admiral of the aggregation afterwards a allegorical run apprenticeship Michigan football. Neither Schembechler nor anybody with the alignment acknowledged Frey’s adaptation of what the amateur said. But instead of apologizing, Schembechler wrote aback advancing Frey and her bosses. He told Shine that “your intern watched men from 20 to 65 years of age denude and dress for added than bisected an hour afterwards allurement questions.”
“Your sports editor’s abridgement of accustomed faculty in sending a changeable academy intern in a men’s adviser acquired the problem,” Schembechler wrote. “I absolutely wouldn’t agnosticism that the accomplished affair was a betray orrated by you bodies to actualize a story.”
Schembechler said he wouldn’t let any changeable affiliate of his ancestors into that locker allowance “regardless of their job description.”
M.L. Elrick, who befriended Frey aback they both were Free Columnist interns and went on to win a Pulitzer Prize with the cardboard for advantage that led to the abandonment and imprisonment of Detroit ambassador Kwame Kilpatrick, remembers Morris’s behavior acceptable a “big deal” at the paper. “We had that letter from Bo acquaint on the newsroom wall,” says Elrick. “That was aloof caveman shit.”
Frey’s altercation with Morris was a big accord elsewhere, too: Sports Illustrated appear on Morris’ behavior. Afterwards all, these affairs had already been litigated years before. MLB abettor Bowie Kuhn had claimed that banning changeable sportswriters from baseball locker accommodation was all-important for the “preservation of acceptable notions of appropriateness and propriety,” abandoned to accept the federal courts acquaint him in 1978 that his ban was unconstitutional. Frey’s abusage incited the neanderthals’ aftermost stand. Her adventure anon blew up because of two NFL locker-room incidents that fall. In September 1990, Lisa Olson of the Boston Herald was taunted in the New England Patriots locker allowance by a mob of players. Olson said bound end Zeke Mowatt flashed his genitals at her and said, “Is this what you want? Do you appetite to booty a chaw out of this?” while his teammates yelled, “Give her what she wants!” Aback she complained, Patriots buyer Victor Kiam reportedly said, “I can’t disagree with the players’ actions” and alleged Olson a “classic bitch.” Afterwards an NFL analysis led by Watergate investigator Philip Heymann, the alliance fined three players and the aggregation a absolute of $72,500 for the analysis of Olson.
Frey won the Free Columnist Intern of the Year award, again larboard Detroit at summer’s end to booty addition internship at the Miami Herald. Appropriate abroad she wrote a allotment on the Morris and Olson affairs and the accompaniment of women in sportswriting: “Male sports writers accept lined up to avert Olson, as they did for me in backward July and aboriginal August,” Frey wrote. “Their acrimony at her analysis and their words of abutment are affirmation of the alteration attitudes aural the sports journalism field. But that acreage is still predominantly male, and it still operates according to rules and traditions instituted by macho sports writers and macho athletes. One of those traditions—the locker-room interview—remains the basal agency of accoutrement a able sports team. Women sports writers did not actualize the rules, but their job descriptions crave that they hunt them.”
The day afterwards the Miami Herald ran Frey’s story—and acutely as a acknowledgment to the media firestorm about the corruption of her and Olson—Cincinnati Bengals drillmaster Sam Wyche boastful his blockhead bona fides by barring USA Today anchorman Denise Tom from his team’s locker allowance afterwards a loss.
Phil Donahue bound arrive Frey to face off adjoin Wyche on Donahue, his accustomed amalgamated TV allocution show. (According to NBC Universal, which now owns the Donahue archive, all official video of the adventure with Frey was absent in a 2009 fire. I acquired a archetype of her appearance through an online bargain house.)
To his credit, Wyche kept up the cretin act on civic television. “Believe me,” Wyche said, “there is no acumen for a changeable to be in that locker room.”
After Frey went over Morris’ behavior, and batten accustomed sense—reporters of any gender charge admission to the locker allowance to do their job—Wyche approved arrogant her.
“I can’t acquaint you how abundant I appetite to be on your side,” he said. “I’m aggravating to acquisition a way so that you can be accomplishing your job alike better, alike faster, and in a more—in a adequate bearings for both sides.”
Frey was in no affection to be patronized. She disconnected Wyche, and said, “Locking me out of the locker allowance aback you let the men in is not the answer.”
Frey got afflicted with the host backward in the advertisement for advancing out of a bartering with a arena from Steel Magnolias featuring the characters played by Olympia Dukakis and Shirley MacLaine in a football locker room. Dukakis spends her account time allurement a aggregation official abandoned creamy questions about compatible colors, while MacLaine ogles naked players as they airing by. “You set the appearance aback an hour!” Frey told Donahue.
Donahue was afflicted with his adolescent guest.
“Boy, you accept anticipation about this one, haven’t you?” Donahue said.
Frey came out of the Morris appointment okay. “We consistently say a man had balls. Well, Jennifer had uterus,” says Wise, her Times and Cavalcade colleague, who now writes for ESPN’s The Undefeated. “And she had a lot of assumption aback it came to actuality a woman in the profession, how they adapted to be advised equally.”
Morris larboard Detroit for the Minnesota Twins for the 1991 season. Frey was at the Philadelphia Daily Account by then. The two above paths while she covered the Minnesota vs. Toronto alternation in the ALCS. She told accompany that the Twins’ Kirby Puckett had to accumulate Morris from physically advancing her.
“She told me aback she ran into Morris, he said, ‘You’re a bitch!’ And she said, ‘You’re an !’” says Culpepper, a acquaintance of Frey’s aback the aboriginal 1990s who now writes for the Washington Post. “One of those was true—and she wasn’t a bitch.”
Morris is now a anchorperson with the Minnesota Twins. Aggregation agent Dustin Morse said Morris “will not be responding” to Deadspin’s appeal for animadversion on his run-ins with Jennifer Frey.
Frey’s co-workers in Philly, area she had her aboriginal agents job as a writer, knew about her from the Morris kerfuffle. But she wowed ‘em fast with her advancing advertisement and accepting bodies to allocution afterwards a car blast involving Lenny Dykstra and Darren Daulton of the Phillies. The bounded heroes were actively afflicted in the wee hours of May 6, 1991, aback Dykstra collection off the alley afterwards abrogation assistant John Kruk’s available party. Kruk wouldn’t admit who abroad on the Phillies agenda was at his bash. But, hours afterwards the crash, Frey showed up at Smokey Joe’s, the bar in Wayne, Pa. area the affair was held. Colleagues anamnesis that Frey coaxed the bar’s admirers to stop absorption the players and out the drinking-buddy teammates. Her adventure retraced the bashed escapades that led to Dykstra’s $92,700 Mercedes slamming into two copse at aerial speed. Dykstra’s claret booze akin was afterwards begin to be added than alert the acknowledged limit.
Her assignment in Philadelphia was cited by the Associated Columnist Sport Editors in anniversary best-of roundups, and added the acceptability she’d gotten from the Morris flap. Sandra Rosenbush, agent sports editor at the New York Times in the aboriginal 1990s and now with ESPN, says that she aboriginal noticed Frey during the Morris drama, and kept watching her in Philly. Rosenbush told her boss, Neil Amdur, the Times sports editor from 1990 to 2002, that he should appoint her. Amdur had been accustomed a blooming ablaze by the paper’s highest-ups to aggrandize the area so it could attempt with other, historically added sports-focused affidavit in the market.
Amdur looked at Frey and agreed. “I was attractive to appoint advancing adolescent bodies who could attempt adjoin the tabloids,” Amdur recalls. “I anticipation Jennifer was of that mode. I mean, cull her clips. She wrote it and nailed it. She had absolutely able journalistic chops.”
Mark Kram Jr., who aggregate bylines with her on the Dykstra/Dalton stories, approved to allocution her out of abrogation Philly for New York. Didn’t work.
“I anticipate she looked at the Daily Account as a dispatch stone,” says Kram. “But I can still bethink talking with her that day, how abounding of abandon she was, abounding of excitement. She was on her way, you know?”
(Frey, several years and two newspapers later, wrote a continued affection on Kram’s father, the columnist and top-shelf sportswriter Mark Kram Sr., for the Washington Cavalcade afterwards advertisement of his 2001 book on Ali-Frazier, Ghosts of Manila.)
When Frey accustomed the Times’ offer, her pal Culpepper admits, he and all of her accompany were awed, and, sure, appetent of the absorption she was accepting from association at the top of their profession, about abundant she adapted it.
“Jennifer was about 24 years old, and it was like everybody in the apple capital her,” says Culpepper. “We were all thinking, ‘Wow, we’d abiding like to be Jennifer Frey.’”
Frey told her ancestors she was the Times’s youngest agents anchorman aback she was hired, and that the cardboard gave her a signing benefit ample abundant to pay off her apprentice loans. She alleged up Pollock, her aboriginal bang-up at the Olean Times Herald, to let him apperceive she was activity to the New York Times, aloof like she told him she would as a teenager. “I knew she’d get there,” says Pollock. “I didn’t anticipate she’d get there that fast.”
Frey was put on the New York Rangers beat, animate alongside Joe Lapointe, the paper’s advance hockey writer. Lapointe had been at the Detroit Free Columnist afore abrogation in 1989 and branch to the Times. He says he’d followed the Morris saga, and that his accompany in Detroit had told him all about the kid from Harvard who’d breach big belief on whatever exhausted she was bushing in for. “Her acceptability preceded her,” he says. “She was somebody that everybody in the business knew as an up-and-coming-star.”
To Lapointe’s eyes, she lived up to her announcement immediately. He still crows about how she took time out from finishing her borderline adventure on a New York Rangers/Washington Capitals d to advice him with his allotment about a claret altercation amid the Rangers’ Alexei Kovalev and Dale Hunter of the Caps.
“Jennifer was the best assistant I anytime had,” he says. “She accomplished that on a beat, there was abundant to go about for everybody. There was annihilation petty about her. And she had amazing administration qualities. Afterwards the d she’d acquaint me or [fellow Times veterans] Dave Anderson or George Vecsey what she was activity to write, and again advance belief for us. And she’d consistently leave you cerebration that she gave you the best adventure idea. Again she’d go get you quotes that fit altogether and fabricated your adventure better. To me, she was a genius.”
Good as she was at gamers, Frey had already baffled the takeout story, too. She advantaged profiles of association activity through barbarous times. Aboriginal in her assignment at the Times, she flew out to Southern California, to account Rangers ablaze Bernie Nicholls in a alley of the pediatrics area of a Continued Beach hospital, area his two-month old son lay algid with no adventitious of survival. On day 10 of this afterlife watch, Frey begin Nicholls debating whether to break with his ancestors until the end or to acknowledge the Rangers. He absitively to fly aback to the team. “You accept to let go,” Nicholls told Frey. “It’s a boxy affair to anticipate about, but the absoluteness is, you accept to. Arena will be acceptable for me.”
She above the country for addition soul-crushing adventure in 1994, a contour of Glenn Burke, the aboriginal above Major Alliance Baseball amateur to appear out as gay. She begin Burke broke, drug-addicted, and dying of AIDS, anon afterwards he had been taken off the streets to animate with his sister, Lutha Davis, in a awkward Oakland apartment.
From the story:
Lutha Davis rubs her little brother’s anxiety on the canicule aback the affliction gets to be angrily bad. AIDS attacks area a actuality is weakest, and Burke is weakest in his appropriate leg and foot, area his anatomy was affianced calm with adamant rods afterwards he was addled by the car in 1987. His anxiety are bloated to three times their accustomed size, his insteps and beasts covered with large, purple-black lesions. “It scares me, it hurts so much,” Burke said. “All I do is lie in bed and cry and bark for Lutha.”
And a year later, she profiled Curt Blefary, who had been the 1965 American Alliance amateur of the year with the Baltimore Orioles, as the ex-ballplayer was accident his decades-old action with alcoholism. Her lede: “He started about 8:30 A.M., anon afterwards his wife, Lana, larboard for work. For Curt Blefary, the booze of best was whisky, a alloy alleged Philadelphia. He took it with about a burst of baptize and a scattering of ice. By noon, he would accept accomplished added than a quart.”
“I had a botheration aback I was playing, but cipher anytime had the audacity to acquaint me,” Blefary told Frey. “Back then, bodies were added acceptable to accompany you addition booze than ask if you had a problem.” (Blefary died in 2001 of pancreatitis, acquired by his booze abuse.)
Lapointe was amid abounding addled by the ingenue. “She could do alert the assignment anybody abroad would,” says Lapointe. “She would appear off one adventure and anon fly above the country to do another. I was with her on one flight and she had 10 newspapers with her, and spent the accomplished flight demography the sports sections out and disturbing belief out and affairs them all together.”
Frey was on the Rangers exhausted in 1994 aback the authorization won its aboriginal Stanley Cup in bisected a century.
Mike Wise says Frey, new as she was to New York, acted like she endemic the city. He recalls sitting with Frey in her accommodation in Brooklyn Heights afterwards she’d befuddled a party, and aloof actuality absolutely happy. “We’re attractive out the window at the Statue of Liberty, aloof this amazing view,” says Wise. “And Jennifer said, ‘It’s a appealing acceptable activity isn’t it?’ It was.”
But Frey anon capital more.
The added acceptable avenue to distinction in journalism had gone arctic on I-95 from D.C. to Manhattan. So you’d anticipate George Solomon, longtime sports editor of the Washington Post, would accept had a boxy time prying Frey from the Times. But in 1995, the Post’s sports area was adequate a heyday, loaded with accustomed and approaching sports-media superstars including Tony Kornheiser, Michael Wilbon, John Feinstein, and Christine Brennan, and was beheld as a actual affable atom for sportswriters and sportswriting.
Solomon, who now directs the sports journalism affairs at the University of Maryland, tells me he’d been account Frey’s assignment and acquisitive to accompany her in for a while. “And a job opened up,” he says. Solomon fabricated a bend to Frey, who afterwards the Rangers won the Cup was in her aboriginal year on the New York Mets beat.
Amdur now says he capital and approved to accumulate her in New York, but the Post’s action was adamantine to match. “Jennifer was a actual ambitious, actual aggressive, and actual accomplished adolescent woman,” says Amdur. “I anticipate she saw herself in a above abode in journalism than as a baseball exhausted writer. I anticipate George could action her things that I couldn’t, like assignment as a columnist.”
She had affable faces to accessory advanced to seeing in D.C., also: Cavalcade agent sports editor Tracee Hamilton captivated the aforementioned position with the Detroit Free Columnist aback Frey was the ablaze intern there. Frey took Solomon’s offer, and Solomon put her appropriate to work. She was banging out previews and gamers in every time area and on aggregate from NCAA basketball to the tennis bout to the Indy 500 to the Kentucky Derby to appellation fights. In the pre-blogger era, the aggregate of her archetype was as absorbing as its range. Aloof one example: While accoutrement her aboriginal U.S. Accessible tennis clash for the Post, she had 12 bylines amid Sept. 5 and Sept. 11, 1995.
“She could do it all, and everybody knew it,” says Vinnie Perrone, her aide at the Cavalcade through the 1990s.
Asked to aces any nights area her accoutrement seemed decidedly sharp, Perrone recalls animate alongside Frey at the Hector Camacho vs. Sugar Ray Leonard action in March 1997.
“She’s autograph as the fight’s activity on, she’s synthesizing what’s activity on in absolute time,” Perrone says. “And account the allotment the aing day, she fabricated the action a allegory for [Leonard’s] life, and it was aloof so good, and I’m like, Jesus. What a mind. What a talent.”
She did columns, too, with no absolute to her contemporary range. Her aboriginal cavalcade for the Cavalcade accursed a Northern Virginia aerial academy baseball aggregation that for years had been carefully appliance a Ku Klux Klan logo as its acceptable luck charm. Additionally appropriate out of the gate, she wrote an acknowledgment of Mickey Mantle aloft his death; Frey argued that Mantle, who died anon afterwards adeptness a alarmist displace apprenticed by booze abuse, adapted hero adoration admitting his own assertions that his claimed foibles fabricated him an base role model. Addition aboriginal Frey cavalcade had her cogent the adventure of Bobby Joe Edmonds, who was aggravating to appear aback to the NFL afterwards a five-year absence because of his alcoholism.
“When you advance the alliance in punt returns—which Edmonds did in 1986 and 1987—life is one big party,” Frey wrote, “and it seems like no bulk of beer can booty that away.”
Frey was still in the affair phase.
Wherever Frey was, booze was abiding to flow.
“The parties were consistently in Jennifer’s room,” Chuck Culpepper says, “and they consistently went into the wee hours, and they were legendary. She was unforgettable.”
Derby parties became a basic for Frey. “She’d get a massive accommodation and the bathtub was abounding with ice and booze,” says Perrone. “And it wasn’t aloof journalists at her parties. The principals from the hunt would appearance up. Everybody knew about Jennifer’s parties.”
There was additionally March Madness carousal at whichever bounded Frey was beatific to.
“We were at an NCAA bounded in Arizona and went out to dinner,” says one writer, “and Jennifer ordered a canteen of Jack London cabernet. I said, ‘Isn’t George [Solomon] activity to say commodity if you bulk that?’ And Jennifer said, ‘Only if we get two.’ Again she smiled and said, ‘We adeptness get two.’” They got added than two.
Culpepper remembers the after-effects of accoutrement the NFC championship d in 1995, in which the San Francisco 49ers hosted the Dallas Cowboys. Frey, who was additionally in the Bay Area for work, aing him on a ad-lib post-game two-day cruise to Alaska, conceived abandoned because Culpepper had already been to every added state. “We didn’t alike accept coats,” he says. “The key with her was, if you appropriate such a thing, she was appropriate there with you, exceptionally alive.” Abundant of the mini-voyage was spent in an Anchorage bar alleged Darwin’s Theory, area they “just talked to locals.”
And that time Frey couldn’t accomplish it to the 1995 Kentucky Derby because she was accoutrement a Mets d in Cincinnati. She asked Culpepper to abode a $20 win bet on Thunder Gulch. Her horse came in, so Frey collection bottomward to Louisville afterwards filing her gamer and calm her $510 winnings. She spent abundant of it on a night out in Kentucky afore active aback to awning baseball the aing afternoon.
Though animate for newspapers in altered cities, he and Frey fabricated lots of trips calm in 1990s, including one to the 1993 Derby area his ancestor additionally came. Culpepper and Frey aggregate a Louisville auberge allowance that weekend, and Culpepper says he consistently wondered if Dad affected or hoped they were a couple. Any such adventurous speculation, however, assured aback Culpepper, with Frey’s abutment and counsel, came out to his ancestors and aeon as gay. Years of actuality addition array of attenuate bird in the aforementioned profession gave her affinity others in the acreage lacked, Culpepper believes, citation her 1994 Glenn Burke contour as proof. “That was aback affidavit didn’t tend to do gay belief about sports,” Culpepper says.
Culpepper says he craved actuality in Frey’s apogee in the 1990s, and was hardly abandoned amid sportswriters. Her adeptness to abet acceptable times, he says, “made her, to borrow a Brit term, a fable amid us.”
Frey’s affair accomplishment larboard impressions with lots of reporters during the Nagano Olympics in 1998.
“I was sitting alfresco the columnist building, cat-and-mouse for a bus afterwards one of those 16-hour workdays that everybody works at the Olympics,” says Lapointe, “just acquisitive to get six hours of sleep. And actuality comes Jennifer out of the antechamber arch a accumulation of 12 journalists, yelling, ‘Joe, let’s go! I begin a abode that’s accessible 24 hours!’ I said no. That was Jennifer. Her activity was unbelievable. Acknowledge god I was so abundant beforehand than her, or I adeptness accept approved to accumulate up with her. She would accept dead me.”
Nobody anytime anticipation of cogent Frey she adeptness be killing herself.
M.L. Elrick, who interned with Frey at the Free Columnist aback aback the Jack Morris adventure occurred, says they were aing abundant that his mother socialized with and admired Frey. He now surmises that what fabricated Frey so apprenticed on the job wasn’t so altered from what led to her self-destructive behaviors abroad from work. He assured that Frey’s career choice, alloyed with whatever demons and diseases she entered the acreage with, fabricated for a “toxic cocktail.”
“She was an alarming person, somebody so smart, somebody who’d consistently say things that fabricated you go, ‘Oh, man, why didn’t I anticipate of that?’” says Elrick. “I admired actuality about her. But you accessory back, it was like Jennifer consistently acquainted she had to prove herself in every way, had to do added than everybody. Actuality a woman in sports, area she had to apperceive every allowance you’re activity into is a adverse room. And again she put so abundant on herself, too. It was consistently like, ‘I can jump added buses than you!’ And she could! But at some point there’s one bus too many. Eventually, you’re not activity to stick that landing.”
I aboriginal met Frey in 1997, afterwards she’d confused to D.C to booty the job with the Washington Post. I was freelancing for the paper, accoutrement horse antagonism in Maryland. She came to the columnist box at Pimlico one day, and I was alien to her by Perrone, again the Post’s approved accommodation writer. I already knew a lot about her, as everybody in D.C journalism did—her résumé, burdened with Harvard and the New York Times, fabricated her assume overbred alike for the Post. Everybody I knew ample her superstardom actuality was imminent.
I was the everyman man on the sports section’s totem pole. So I bethink actuality bemused aloof to see Frey airing in the room. She came over to area I was sitting with Perrone and anon began allurement Vinnie about an accessible poker night amid Cavalcade sportswriters. She was aloof by the bedfellow account on at atomic one front.
“I can booze everybody beneath the table,” Frey appear to me and Vinnie and anybody abroad in the allowance in a articulation as big as her personality.
It was a memorable aboriginal impression, annihilation like what I accustomed from somebody of Frey’s full-blooded and, fair or not, gender.
While freelancing at the track, I was additionally autograph a sports cavalcade for Washington Burghal Paper, a D.C. weekly. The anniversary afterwards I met Frey, I told my Burghal Cardboard editor, David Carr, about her booze brags.
Carr had appear to boondocks at about the aforementioned time as Frey. He anon began autograph a media column, Cardboard Trail, and enjoyed appliance it to accomplish enemies in the bounded press. As I anamnesis things, annihilation he wrote at Burghal Cardboard brought him added calefaction from added scribes than a 1997 cavalcade he adherent to Frey. That piece, blue-blooded “Blood Sport,” was triggered by a address in the New York Daily Account that a Hoboken, N.J. adjudicator had issued a abstinent adjustment adjoin Frey at the bidding of Mike Freeman of the New York Times. Freeman and Frey had briefly anachronous several years earlier. Freeman, Carr wrote, told authorities Frey wouldn’t let him get on with his activity afterwards her.
“Freeman reportedly a the cops on what he claimed to be all the manifestations of Frey’s baleful allure to him: hundreds of afflictive and bashed buzz calls, two afterlife threats, and a not-so-whispered attack to discredit him amid his colleagues,” Carr wrote.
Bruce Sanford, continued amid the top Aboriginal Amendment attorneys in D.C., represented Frey in that bulk and dedicated her in Carr’s piece. Sanford recalls that his representation was awkward aback he’d ahead handled several cases for the New York Times, but he took it on “because I anticipation she was actuality advised unfairly at atomic in allotment because she was a woman whose aptitude and drive threatened some people.”
“She was a afire star,” Sanford says via email, “bright, shiny, active and advancing afterwards actuality abounding with herself. I believed her adaptation of the altercation with Freeman, which both affronted and abashed her. She attributed it to able animosity and his abhorrence that she adeptness be assassin aback by the Times in a higher, bigger position than him.”
Freeman beneath an account appeal from Deadspin.
Carr acclimated the letters of the action with Freeman to point out that Frey had hit a few added potholes while on the fast clue to journalism’s top tier. She had been pulled over by badge in Florida for dispatch during bounce training in 1995. Bobby Bonilla of the New York Mets, the aggregation she was accoutrement for the New York Times, was her passenger. Carr wrote that Bonilla had accustomed “fawning treatment” from Frey in book in New York. She came to the Washington Cavalcade anon afterwards the cartage stop. (An account in the New York Daily News’s Rush & Molloy account cavalcade affiliated the Bonilla adventure to Frey’s abandonment from the Times. Carr’s cavalcade fabricated no such connection; Amdur, the Times sports editor who assassin Frey and was there aback she left, says he recalls no link. The account column’s authors, George Rush and Joanna Molloy, say they accept no bond of the Frey/Bonilla item.)
Carr’s cavalcade hinted that Frey’s lapses were allotment of an all-embracing arrangement of aberrant behavior that had some association at the Washington Cavalcade afraid about Frey, but maybe not as abundant as they should be. Carr begin others who’d heard the aforementioned boasts that I’d heard her accomplish at the racetrack about her altruism for alcohol; appealing abundant all of her accompany had heard them.
“Her colleagues say she plays alike harder than she works and is decumbent to aloof about her Runyonesque adeptness to lay low those who try to outdrink the abandoned babe at the table,” he wrote.
But her talents and achievement had everybody at the cardboard wonderstruck. Carr’s cavalcade said Tony Kornheiser admired her as the “real deal”:
“Check the bylines and analysis the datelines,” says Kornheiser. “She has been added places and done added belief than anybody about here, including me. I adulation her to death. I anticipate her assignment is terrific. I anticipate that she is absolutely acute and funny and bright—and her assignment reflects all of those things. She works hard.” And plays hard? “That’s not my department.”
Carr was accursed by Frey’s colleagues afterwards the adventure came out. Some Cavalcade staffers anticipation he wouldn’t accept accounting the aforementioned allotment about a macho journalist, at atomic the genitalia about drinking. Mike Wise, who formed with her at both the New York Times and Washington Post, charcoal agitated by the allotment to this day. Wise says some of his acrimony comes from animate that Carr himself had dealt with austere actinic assurance issues, and accordingly he could accept added acutely advised that Frey’s bubbler was a evidence of a disease, and not a appearance flaw.
“David Carr savaged her. He had no benevolence or empathy,” Wise tells me. “He aloof looked at her like she was active agrarian and out there, abandoned and rabble-rousing.”
For the saddest of reasons, history has been affectionate to Carr’s column.
Within a few months afterwards she got aback from Nagano in aboriginal 1998, Frey began cogent accompany she was pregnant. She had never been affiliated or had a adolescent before, and wasn’t in a accord at the time, but Frey told association she was aflame by the development. She additionally anon seemed to adore arch colleagues on a academic d about who the ancestor was. She gave altered versions of who helped her get pregnant, admitting never any specific names or abundant advice to fact-check her claims. She told some association it was an NHL player, others that it was a European media mogul, and lots added that it was aloof some guy she met in Nagano. Aback her babe was built-in in the abatement of 1998, Frey showed her off everywhere, and appealing soon, the kid absolutely did accessory absolutely like her. So Frey’s admired aggravate became saying, “It was an bright conception!”
Colleagues say she took approaching motherhood actively at the start—there was no bubbler at the 1998 Preakness, says one writer—and that for a time afterwards the babyish came, she was absolutely acceptable at it. The clearest adumbration of her commitment: During her pregnancy, Frey got a alteration out of the sports section. The canicule of biking were over so she could be with her daughter.
She bound accustomed a book accord to co-write Chamique, a account from Chamique Holdsclaw, a ablaze with the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. Frey’s aboriginal and abandoned book, appear in 2000, told of Holdsclaw advantageous actuality taken out of her family’s home and removed from her parents’ affliction as a youngster by adolescent careful casework because her parents were alcoholics.
She became a affection biographer on the Post’s Style desk. And her alternate longform assignment over the aing few years was stellar. She got acclaim all over for her adventure on Seabiscuit columnist Laura Hillenbrand’s action with abiding fatigue syndrome. Accompany say Warren Beatty so admired Frey’s 2004 profile, timed to that year’s Kennedy Center Honors bright feting him, that he alleged her consistently afterwards the adventure ran, aloof to chat.
She chock-full accomplishing the continued takeout belief not continued afterwards the Beatty piece, however. The Cavalcade athenaeum appearance she spent a few years autograph mostly abbreviate cine reviews, and again there was nothing. Officially, she larboard the Washington Cavalcade in 2008. Peter Perl, a longtime Cavalcade biographer and editor who was administration cadre issues at the end of Frey’s tenure, beneath to altercate her departure, added than to say she “voluntarily left.” I could acquisition no added Style editor accommodating to alike say that abundant about Jennifer Frey.
The abandoned byline that I could acquisition from Frey afterwards she larboard the Post, and the aftermost adventure of chastening I could acquisition anywhere, came in the Daily Beast on December 25, 2010, beneath a blog cavalcade about Christmas shoppers accent “Holiday Coupon Generosity.” The columnist bio on that piece, Frey’s abandoned adventure in the Daily Beast archive, gave a abridge adaptation of her admirable résumé, and assured by adage the she was “currently autograph a memoir.” No account was anytime published.
Shortly afterwards her death, the Cavalcade appear a abstract of Frey’s best work. No adventure was beneath than a decade old.
In October 2014, I got a alarm from Pat Hand, a D.C. advocate and acquaintance of mine. “Do you bethink Jennifer Frey?” he asked.
I told him I abiding did bethink her, that I hadn’t heard her name in years and generally wondered why she disappeared, and that I had anticipation for a continued time about attractive to see if there was a adventure in her disappearance. Hand told me Frey lived a him and he’d heard she wasn’t accomplishing well. He gave me acquaintance advice for a acquaintance of chastening who would apperceive what was activity on. The acquaintance told me that Frey bare advice in a absolute acreage bulk that she wasn’t getting, and anticipation maybe some media absorption would help. Frey’s problems went far above absolute estate, however.
Frey spent her canicule drinking, the acquaintance said. She had been in and out of hospitals for years adversity from alcohol-related ailments, best afresh pancreatitis, that kept her from animate and had instigated her abandonment from the Washington Post. She had been in and out of adjust programs for alcohol, best afresh afterwards accepting a DUI in D.C. She acclimated booze to hunt lots of decree drugs, mainly Oxycontin and Xanax, which she’d been demography aback actuality diagnosed as bipolar. She’d been actual financially for years off affliction payments and money from disinterestedness loans she’d taken out on her house. She talked about suicide often. She was active abandoned in the house, which had been bankrupt on and awash at auction. But Frey was abnegation to leave.
“She’s a mess,” said the friend, who asked to abide anonymous. “She doesn’t accept one affair falling apart, she has aggregate falling apart. But she’s so accommodating and has such a heart.”
One of the aftermost belief Frey anytime wrote for the Washington Post, from 2008, was accent “Bleak Accomplished Catches Up To a Troubled Present,” and was about a movie, Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl, about an over-extended homeowner. Frey’s lede:
The new affection blur “Kit Kittredge: An American Girl” adeptness be a account of adolescence some 80 years ago, but it hits clumsily aing to home. Especially aback that home has aloof been bankrupt upon. The movie, a Depression-era tale, highlights one aftereffect of ambience a fabulous adventure in an all-too-real and accordant past: History acquaint become current-event lessons.
Frey abstruse her assignment about home foreclosure the adamantine way, as D.C. Superior Cloister annal confirmed. In August 2000, Frey paid $365,000 for the house, amid in Bounce Valley, one of D.C’s best flush neighborhoods. Again in April 2005, she’d refinanced her mortgage through Countrywide Home Loans Inc., the aggregation now accustomed for about breaking America with its bloodthirsty lending practices. The acceding she active with Countrywide assured a 1 percent absorption bulk for the aboriginal year of the loan, with an aggressively ascent rate. That certificate additionally had her accede that if she absent a account payment, “the Note Holder may crave me to pay anon the abounding bulk of Principal that has not been paid and all the absorption that I owe on that amount.”
Bank of America, which acquired Countrywide in 2008, activated the accretion commodity in Frey’s accommodation acceding in 2013. According to cloister records, as of June 4, 2013, Frey owed $692,437.19 on the house, or about bifold what she’d bought it for.
Frey was one of bags of bodies who fell casualty to this scheme. In October 2008, Bank of America, paid $8.6 billion in what California Advocate Accepted Edmund Brown alleged the “largest bloodthirsty lending adjustment in history.”
“Countrywide’s lending practices angry the American dream into a daydream for tens of bags of families by putting them into loans they couldn’t accept and ultimately couldn’t afford,” the advocate accepted said.
Frey, abandoned and actual damaged, was beneath able than best Countrywide victims to recover. The bloodthirsty accommodation adjustment had affected Bank of America to set up programs to abetment those who’d collapsed casualty to Countrywide’s schemes. Frey did not booty advantage of any of those programs, her acquaintance told me, or accomplish any accessible accomplishment to save her home. She gave me Frey’s buzz cardinal and told me to alarm her up but not say area I got it.
Hearing of her apologetic state, I anon anticipation aback to my aboriginal affair with Frey, and the bubbler boasts she made. Carr’s 1997 cavalcade on her additionally came to mind. I had abdicate bubbler algid turkey years earlier, activity that booze, the way I acclimated it, would eventually annihilate me. But as abundant as I drank in my adolescence and through my mid-20s, I couldn’t analyze with somebody as acutely absorbed as Frey was. I ample Carr could.
He had dug himself out of big holes in his life, the better actuality aback his daughters were put in advance affliction as he fell afar from assorted addictions. He, too, was the activity of every party, and paid for that with his health. But he abundantly bankrupt up abundant to get his kids, his life, and his autograph career back.
So I emailed Carr, gave him a thumbnail account of the abysm Frey was in, absorbed a archetype of the adventure he’d accounting about her, and told him how acutely clear-sighted that commodity was. He alleged me from San Francisco, area he was accessory a Vanity Fair new-media conference. He laughed about how there was no way the 2014 New York Times would let him address that 1997 Burghal Cardboard story, alike if he still had it in him to address such a thing.
I told Carr I advised to alarm Frey and maybe do a adventure on her, and capital his thoughts on how or whether I should, accustomed her circumstances. Beforehand that year, the accountable of a Grantland adventure had committed suicide, and her afterlife was affiliated to the reporter’s conversations with her afore the adventure was anytime published. This was absolutely on my mind.
Carr, who was the wisest bodies actuality I anytime met, could acquaint that I mostly capital him aloof to assurance off on calling Frey so that if she dead herself I would accept somebody to allotment the blame. But, he said, it articulate like a story. If she commits suicide, it won’t be because a biographer alleged her up, he said.
“Maybe it’ll accord her a bang in the ass,” he told me.
And so I alleged Frey the aing morning. I alien myself and started to say I was attractive into autograph about her, and she began yelling. And kept yelling. And yelling. She said that if I’d done my “homework” as a sportswriter I would apperceive she hadn’t been a sportswriter for years so there was no aces bend for any sportswriter to accompany and that she was no best a accessible amount and that what she was up to was none of my business and alike if it was my business there was no way she’d anytime allocution to anybody from Burghal Cardboard because of the 1997 adventure about her. Again she afraid up.
I had accustomed to apprehend delusional ramblings in a near-dead, waify articulation on the added end. But, aloof like in the Pimlico columnist box, Frey didn’t baby to my expectations. Acrimony and all, she articulate thoroughly apprehensible and fabricated me feel brainless for calling. I anticipation aback to Carr’s words about a adventure possibly giving her a bang in the ass. By the end of my chat with Frey, I was abiding that if anybody was about to get their ass kicked, it was me.
I never wrote about Frey while she was alive.
A GoFundMe folio went up on Feb. 24 allurement for donations for Frey’s daughter. The bend spelled out a adverse accompaniment of affairs:
This candied adolescent has been aloft by a distinct mother her absolute life. Due to her mother’s bloom problems, she’s bounced about from abode to abode and alike spent time in advance care. A year and a bisected ago, she was reunited with her mother, whose bloom had acutely improved. Now, at 17, she aloof got the adverse account that her mother has abandoned a brace of weeks to live. There’s no ancestor and no actual ancestors area she lives … Due to Jen’s illness, she hasn’t been able to assignment for years and her abandoned assets has been disability.
The pitch, accounting by Jody Goldstein, said the babe was about to alum on schedule—from her fourth aerial school—and was academically able for and hoped to go to college, but that her mother “has no absolute assets to leave her daughter” to pay for it.
When the appeal for donations appeared, Frey had already been a accommodating at the Georgetown University hospital for several weeks. She went in adversity from what Goldstein says were the furnishings of booze abuse, as she had abounding times before. Aback she couldn’t booze during inpatient stays, Goldstein says, Frey’s anatomy would alleviate itself abundant to get her aback on her feet, aback home and, alike admitting doctors would acquaint her bubbler was activity to annihilate her, aback at the bottle.
This time was different. Detox wouldn’t be enough. There would be no healing. There would be no accepting discharged.
Frey was told by doctors that her alarmist was damaged above repair. To survive, she bare a new organ, and she capital to get one. Like all -to-be recipients at the hospital’s Displace Institute, Frey went through a array of tests and interviews to actuate her activity for a donor liver. Georgetown abandoned her application.
“A analyst at the hospital told me they didn’t anticipate she was activity to abdicate drinking,” a acquaintance of Frey’s tells me.
The GoFundMe folio fabricated the circuit amid journalists via Facebook posts. Lots of old accompany of Frey’s began contacting anniversary added to go over the accident and admiration what went amiss and if they could accept done annihilation to help. They anon accomplished that they weren’t abandoned in accident blow with Frey; aback she larboard journalism, she disappeared.
“She aloof drifted abroad from her journalism friends,” says Joe Lapointe, “or they drifted abroad from her.”
Lapointe was one of the few old accompany that Frey accomplished out to in the aftermost several years of her life. And she didn’t accomplish it accessible to stick by her. Lapointe, who is now a journalism assistant at the University of Michigan, says he hadn’t heard from her aback the Nagano Olympics aback she started calling him in 2013. The buzz calls consistently came backward at night, generally lasted added than an hour and accomplished midnight, with Frey accomplishing about all of the talking. “It was consistently actual sad, consistently a account of woe,” he says.
She’d pin the accusation for her ceaseless bubbler on, amid added things, her upbringing, above boyfriends, Harvard, or her assigned medications. She brought up suicide every conversation. Lapointe says during one chat Frey chock-full talking and he heard the buzz abatement and hit the floor. He alleged 911 from Michigan and asked for a D.C. badge administrator to analysis up on her. She hadn’t dead herself, it angry out. Frey chock-full calling him in 2015.
“Jennifer knew she was never activity to stop the slide,” Lapointe says. “She told me that often. I knew that, too. It was obvious.”
George Solomon, her above bang-up and the guy who brought her to the Washington Post, told me he hadn’t heard from Frey, or alike annihilation about what she was up to, for several years afore the GoFundMe folio appeared. One above Cavalcade colleague, who asked that his name not be used, says he approved blockage in blow with Frey for a time afterwards she larboard the paper, and alike collection her to AA meetings. But he cut off acquaintance several years ago, beat out by her late-night bashed buzz calls, afraid about the cerebral accident their talks were accepting on him and his family, and assertive that her war adjoin her ache was already lost.
Goldstein, active 1,400 afar abroad in Houston, ashore by Frey alike afterwards they had both absent all achievement for a recovery. She says Frey craved abnegation but never came aing to addition out how to get there. “She capital to quit, accept me,” says Goldstein. “She went into adjust so abounding times. She aloof couldn’t advice herself. Accessory what it bulk her? My God. You anticipate she capital that? She didn’t appetite that. Some bodies can stop. She couldn’t.”
Many writers came to see Frey in Georgetown over her aftermost days. Chuck Culpepper, who hadn’t apparent Frey aback 2010, visited her the Sunday afore she died. He says they aggregate action about their cyclone cruise to Alaska and all the Derby get-togethers. “We aloof reminisced about the ‘90s,” he says.
Mike Wise acclimated his aftermost admirers to admonish Frey of that time afterwards a affair in her Brooklyn accommodation aback they were attractive out the window at the Statue of Liberty, aback she told him activity was acceptable and he agreed. Things couldn’t be added altered now. Aback he was abandoned in the hospital allowance with Frey, Wise says, she looked at him and said, “This is surreal, isn’t it?” He agreed one aftermost time.
Goldstein came up from Houston to absorb time with Frey as the end approached. For any old accompany or colleagues apprehensive if things adeptness accept angry out at all abnormally had they done commodity to try to advice or alike aloof backward in contact, Goldstein assured them that activity hit Frey with a one-two punch—alcoholism and bipolarity—that she wasn’t activity to overcome.
“I got a glimpse of the babe I loved, the amusing and fun and ablaze babe she was,” says Goldstein. “But the amazing writer, the amazing person, had been gone for a absolutely continued time.”
Culpepper was amid those beholden for Goldstein’s absolution.
“I accept no illusions about actuality able to fix things,” he says. “I aloof ambition I’d beatific added addendum saying, ‘Hi, Jennifer. I adulation you.’”
At aftermost count, the GoFundMe armpit had admiring 422 donations accretion $52,415. Beforehand this fall, the cavalcade was adapted to acknowledge donors, and to say Frey’s babe went off to academy in New England, aloof like her mother.
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