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Grant Wahl Gets a Heartfelt ‘Ted Lasso’ Tribute

Last Updated: July 1, 2023
The late sportswriter and celebrated soccer specialist received a dual acknowledgment in Season 3, Episode 4 of the Apple TV+ series.

The Apple TV+ dramedy Ted Lasso paid tribute to late sportswriter Grant Wahl in their April 5 episode, reminding us all again the journalist was so beloved and remains sorely missed four months after his passing.

In Episode 4 of Season 3, “Big Week,” Wahl was honored just before the end credits. During the program, Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) clutches a copy of Wahl’s 2009 book, The Beckham Experiment, which chronicles the namesake English legend’s decision to leave top European leagues in favor of a fresh start with Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy in 2007.

Wahl’s widow, Dr. Céline Gounder, was quick to notice and give her thanks:

Considering that this season of Ted Lasso was filmed last summer, consider the placement of the book one of the many Easter eggs co-creators Hunt, Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, and Joe Kelly placed especially for the most devoted soccer fans; now that the world football community has lost one of its own, this detail is far more somber, but significantly more impactful.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Hunt said that Wahl assisted the show’s writing team as they developed storylines involving journalist Trent Crimm (James Lance) writing a book about the fictional club AFC Richmond and the arrival of veteran athlete Zava (Maximilian Osinski) to the team. A fan of the show, Wahl was sent prompts from the showrunners to gather his thoughts on how a global superstar’s arrival shifts the dynamic of a club.

While covering last year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar as an independent sportswriter, Grant Wahl passed away after becoming medically distressed in his press box seat during the Argentina-Netherlands match. Medics attended to him for nearly half an hour before taking him out on a stretcher and to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

He was 48 years old.

“When we knew we were going to have the storyline of Trent embedded with the team, we thought about reporters who’ve done that — John Feinstein came to mind [for his book A Season on the Brink, about Indiana University’s basketball program], and Grant as well. Specifically, because Grant’s book is about football but also about the arrival of a superstar and the change of a culture with David Beckham, we went to him right away,” Hunt added to THR.

Reminiscing on the one-on-one time he spent with Wahl, Hunt said he personally met with the Sports Illustrated alum following a match between the USWNT and England in October 2022.

“On his way to the airport he came to Richmond,” he recalled. “He came to my house, he met my family, I showed him around Richmond and we had a fucking great day talking about football. Like everyone, we were all shocked and affected by his loss. To carry on the train of salutes to his memory was something we felt obligated to do.”

Wahl and Sudeikis, the latter of whom plays the show’s titular coach, share a connection to the Kansas City area and developed a friendship outside of work. Sudeikis and Hunt also appeared on the Nov. 30, 2020 episode of Wahl’s podcast, and it’s a spirited thing to see them find ways to honor a journalist and fellow traveler who uplifted so many around him.

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About The Author
Vinciane Ngomsi
Vinciane Ngomsi
Vinciane Ngomsi is a Staff Writer at Boardroom. She began her career in sports journalism with bylines at SB Nation, USA Today, and most recently Yahoo. She received a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Truman State University, and when she's not watching old clips of Serena Williams' best matches, she is likely perfecting her signature chocolate chip cookie recipe or preparing a traditional Cameroonian meal.