The Denver Broncos public relations staff has been selected as the 2014 Pete Rozelle Award winners by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
The AFC champion Broncos, the 25th Rozelle Award winners, earned the award for the second time in club history. Denver received the inaugural Rozelle Award in 1990.
The Rozelle Award is given to the NFL club public relations staff that consistently strives for excellence in its dealings and relationships with the media. The award is named for Rozelle, NFL commissioner from 1960-89, who started his distinguished career in sports PR roles as a student at both Compton (Calif.) Junior College and the University of San Francisco. After two more years as USF’s assistant athletic director after graduation, he broke into the NFL as the PR director of the Los Angeles Rams from 1952-55. Rozelle used his PR principles as commissioner to build relationships with the media during a period of unprecedented growth and challenge for the league.
Denver’s PR department is led by Patrick Smyth (executive director of media relations), assisted by Rebecca Villanueva (media services manager) and Erich Schubert (media relations manager) along with Jim Saccomano (VP of corporate communications), who retired at the end of the season after 36 years with the club. The department was also assisted by PR interns Christian Edwards and Liz Mannis.
“While the Denver Broncos media relations staff has been honored for its work in 2013, you would be hard-pressed to find any staff in the league through the years that has dealt with as many parts of the job’s spectrum as the Broncos’ has,” said Jeff Legwold, the PFWA’s first vice president who covers the Broncos for ESPN.com. “From the team’s anguish following cornerback Darrent Williams’ murder to the world-wide phenomenon that was Tim Tebow’s tenure in Denver to the hysteria of Peyton Manning and the Super Bowl trip in 2013. There was Mike Shanahan’s firing, Josh McDaniels’ firing, Spygate II, John Elway’s return to the team and all of the games in between. Through it all, including the retirement of the Broncos’ long-time media relations director, Jim Saccomano, the Broncos’ staff has done its best to assist those who have tried to chronicle the events. And they’ve done it with high-level professionalism as well as a roll-up-the-sleeves work ethic from Patrick Smyth, Rebecca Villanueva and Erich Schubert along with a group of aspiring, hard-working interns, including many who dot other staffs around the league.”
ABOUT THE PFWA: The Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) is the official voice of pro football writers, promoting and fighting for access to NFL personnel to best serve the public. The PFWA is made up of accredited writers who cover the NFL and the 32 teams on a daily basis. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter, who covers the Atlanta Falcons, is the organization’s president for 2013-15, while ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold, who covers the Denver Broncos, is the PFWA’s first vice-president and long-time national writer Dan Pompei is the organization’s second vice-president. Follow the PFWA at ProFootballWriters.org and on Twitter at @PFWAwriters.
PETE ROZELLE AWARD WINNERS (To the club public relations department that consistently strives for excellence in its dealings and relationships with the media): 1990 – Denver Broncos; 1991 – Pittsburgh Steelers; 1992 – Seattle Seahawks; 1993 – Miami Dolphins; 1994 – Houston Oilers; 1995 – New York Giants; 1996 – Indianapolis Colts; 1997 – St. Louis Rams; 1998 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 1999 – Miami Dolphins; 2000 – Tennessee Titans; 2001 – New York Giants; 2002 – Philadelphia Eagles; 2003 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 2004 – Houston Texans; 2005 – Philadelphia Eagles; 2006 – Cincinnati Bengals; 2007 – Houston Texans; 2008 – Seattle Seahawks; 2009 – Arizona Cardinals; 2010 – Houston Texans; 2011 – Baltimore Ravens; 2012 – Houston Texans; 2013 – Baltimore Ravens; 2014 – Denver Broncos.