Ed Werder, who has covered the NFL for 34 years, including 20 at ESPN, has been selected as the 2017 Dick McCann Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
Werder, the 49th McCann Award winner, is the fourth former or current member of ESPN or ESPN.com to receive the honor from the PFWA, joining John Clayton (2007), Len Pasquarelli (2008) and Chris Mortensen (2016).
The McCann Award is given to a reporter who has made a long and distinguished contribution to pro football through coverage. The award is named for McCann, who was the first director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1962-67). McCann was a longtime reporter in New York with several newspapers, the Newspaper Enterprise Association and King Features Syndicate. After a stint in the Navy in World War II, he was a sports columnist for the Washington Times-Herald in 1945. A year later, he joined the Washington Redskins as publicity director and was the club’s general manager from 1947-62 before taking the job with the Hall of Fame before its’ 1963 opening.
Other 2017 nominees for the McCann Award were Ron Borges (Boston Herald), Vinny DiTrani (Bergen Record; retired), Jeff Legwold (ESPN.com) and Adam Schefter (ESPN.com).
During his time at ESPN from 1998-2017, Werder appeared weekly on NFL Insiders, NFL Live and SportsCenter as an NFL Insider. He also covered games each week of the NFL season and contributed to Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown. An annual contributor to ESPN’s coverage of the NFL Draft and the Super Bowl, Werder originally joined ESPN as a Dallas-based bureau reporter in September 1998.
Prior to ESPN, he was the NFL reporter for CNNSI, CNN’s Sports Tonight and CNN’s Sunday NFL Preview, providing weekly NFL game coverage, as well as the NFC Championship games in 1997 and 1998 and Super Bowls XXXI and XXXII. Werder also covered the 1998 Final Four and Major League Baseball’s 1996 National League Championship Series.
A native of Longmont, Colo., Werder’s extensive background in print journalism includes stints with the Dallas Morning News (1992-96) and Fort Worth Star-Telegram (1989) covering the Dallas Cowboys. He also worked as an NFL beat writer for the Orlando Sentinel in 1991 and served as a Denver Broncos beat writer for the Boulder (Colo.) Daily Camera from 1984-89. Werder was an NFL reporter for The National (1990-91) and a correspondent for Sports Illustrated (1987-95).
At the Dallas Morning News, he won an award for a series of reports chronicling the deteriorating relationship between Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and then-head coach Jimmy Johnson. He broke the news that Johnson would be replaced by Barry Switzer as the Cowboys coach after Johnson had rebuilt the team and won back-to-back Super Bowls. Werder is also credited for breaking news about rising problems in the Cowboys locker room in 2008, concerning wide receiver Terrell Owens and culminated in his release from the organization.
Werder graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley in 1982.
“I’ve had the privilege of working with Ed for some 20 years dating back to the The National and most recently with ESPN. I just know that whatever and wherever Ed was assigned, we had it covered. That’s always a good feeling,” said ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, the PFWA’s 2016 McCann Award winner.
“He represents the journalistic model in which every dogged reporter methodically turns over every stone in pursuit of the facts,” Mortensen continued. “He cultivates good relationships because it’s part of his fiber and necessary to the job, and he understands his responsibility to those who depend upon his work for insight and information. He loves journalism, and he loves covering the NFL, exceeded only by his love of family. I’m reasonably certain these are the things that motivate Ed.”
Werder will be honored during the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony on August 5 in Canton, Ohio.
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 daily. Jim Trotter, who is a NFL reporter for ESPN, is the organization’s president for the 2017-18 seasons, while Bleacher Report national columnist Dan Pompei is the PFWA’s first vice-president and Newsday’s Bob Glauber is the organization’s second vice-president. Follow the PFWA at ProFootballWriters.org and on Twitter at @PFWAwriters.
DICK McCANN AWARD WINNERS (To a reporter who has made a long and distinguished contribution to pro football through coverage): 1969 – George Strickler (Chicago Tribune); 1970 – Arthur Daley (New York Times); 1971 – Joe King (New York World Telegram & Sun); 1972 – Lewis “Tony” Atchison (Washington Star); 1973 – Dave Brady (Washington Post); 1974 – Bob Oates (Los Angeles Times); 1975 – John Steadman (Baltimore News-American); 1976 – Jack Hand (Associated Press); 1977 – Art Daley (Green Bay Press-Gazette); 1978 – Murray Olderman (Newspaper Enterprise Association); 1979 – Pat Livingston (Pittsburgh Press); 1980 – Chuck Heaton (Cleveland Plain Dealer); 1981 – Norm Miller (New York Daily News); 1982 – Cameron Snyder (Baltimore Sun); 1983 – Hugh Brown (Philadelphia Bulletin); 1984 – Larry Felser (Buffalo News); 1985 – Cooper Rollow (Chicago Tribune); 1986 – William Wallace (New York Times); 1987 – Jerry Magee (San Diego Union); 1988 – Gordon Forbes (USA Today); 1989 – Vito Stellino (Baltimore Sun); 1990 – Will McDonough (Boston Globe); 1991 – Dick Connor (Denver Post); 1992 – Frank Luksa (Dallas Morning News); 1993 – Ira Miller (San Francisco Chronicle); 1994 – Don Pierson (Chicago Tribune); 1995 – Ray Didinger (Philadelphia Daily News); 1996 – Paul Zimmerman (Sports Illustrated); 1997 – Bob Roesler (New Orleans Times-Picayune); 1998 – Dave Anderson (New York Times); 1999 – Art Spander (Oakland Tribune); 2000 – Tom McEwen (Tampa Tribune); 2001 – Len Shapiro (Washington Post); 2002 – Edwin Pope (Miami Herald); 2003 – Joel Buchsbaum (Pro Football Weekly); 2004 – Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News); 2005 – Jerry Green (Detroit News); 2006 – John McClain (Houston Chronicle); 2007 – John Clayton (ESPN.com); 2008 – Len Pasquarelli (ESPN.com); 2009 – Peter King (Sports Illustrated); 2010 – Peter Finney (New Orleans Times-Picayune); 2011 – Bob McGinn (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel); 2012 – Tom Kowalski (MLive.com); 2013 – Dan Pompei (Chicago Tribune); 2014 – Ed Bouchette (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette); 2015 – Dave Goldberg (Associated Press); 2016 – Chris Mortensen (ESPN.com); 2017 – Ed Werder (ESPN).