There are Easter Eggs scattered throughout AppleTV’s beloved fish-out-of-water series, but there was a recent nod to great football reporter, Grant Wahl in Ted Lasso that had a deeper, more emotional meaning.
The show stars Jason Sudeikis as Ted Lasso, an American college football coach who is hired to coach AFC Richmond, an English football team, despite having no experience with coaching soccer. The club’s owner, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddington), hires Ted in the hopes that he will fail miserably as a means of revenge on the team’s previous owner, Rupert Mannion, her ex-husband who was unfaithful to her. A surprise to everyone, Ted’s leadership proves to be successful and he’s responsible for bringing a true sense of heart and belief into the club.
Ted is accompanied by the lovable, if not slightly disgruntled, Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) as his right-hand man, and as viewers will notice he’s very well-read. A certain book in season three, episode five was a nod to a special someone in the world of football, the journalist Grant Wahl.
Who is Grant Wahl in Ted Lasso?
Who is Grant Wahl in Ted Lasso? Grant Wahl was a respected sports reporter who died during the 2022 Qatar World Cup. In the episode of Ted Lasso that aired on April 5, 2023, Beard holds a copy of Grant Wahl’s book, The Beckham Experiment, about the football legend’s decision to leave the European leagues for the United States and join Major League Soccer and the team, LA Galaxy.
Apparently, Wahl was a fan of the series and he served as the inspiration for the storyline where Trent Crimm (James Lance), formerly The Independent, was to be embedded in AFC Richmond to write a book about the club and the new superstar Zava (Maximilian Osinksi) to the team.
“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,” Hunt told The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
Wahl served as almost a consultant for the story as the writers send him a list of questions about how the arrival of such a rockstar player might affect the team “hoping he might have time to toss up a few answers,” Hunt said. “In what I now know to be his typical generosity with his time, he wrote very long, very detailed, very valuable answers to all our questions. He was hugely helpful.”
Hunt and Wahl spent time together when the reporter covered a US women’s national team versus England match in October 2022. “On his way to the airport he came to Richmond,” Hunt recalled. “He came to my house, he met my family, I showed him around Richmond and we had a f—ing 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.” At the episode’s end, the show dedicated the episode, “Big Week,” to Wahl with a title card in the closing credits.
How did Grant Wahl die?
Wahl was only 49 when he passed away suddenly while covering the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. He collapsed suddenly in his press box seat at Lusail Iconic Stadium while covering the quarter-final between the Netherlands and Argentina. Paramedics administered CPR and other treatments for 30 minutes before he was transported by ambulance to Hamad General Hospital where he died on December 9, 2022. “Grant’s passion for soccer and commitment to elevating its profile across our sporting landscape played a major role in helping to drive interest in and respect for our beautiful game,” the United States Soccer Federation said in a statement. Don Garber, the commissioner of Major League Soccer, wrote that Wahl “was a kind and caring person whose passion for soccer and dedication to journalism were immeasurable.”
Sadly, Wahl’s death was overshadowed by a plethora of misinformation—anti-vaxxers falsely blamed his death on COVID-19 vaccines. His wife, Dr. Celine Gounder, is an infectious disease expert and epidemiologist and she penned an op-ed in the New York Times passionately defending her husband’s legacy. “Grant will be remembered for his kindness, openness and generosity. His legacy is his commitment to seeking truth through reporting, supporting human rights and fighting for equality,” she wrote. “I will continue to honor Grant by living by our shared values. I’m channeling my grief into something productive: protecting the public’s health against those who would profit from the suffering of others.”
Ted Lasso is available to stream on Apple TV Plus. Here’s how to get a free Apple TV Plus subscription.
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