2018 PFWA Off-Field Award nominees announced

Each year, the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) vote for several off-field awards given to people working in or associated with the NFL. The 2018 Off-Field Awards balloting is underway through June 11, with the final results announced beginning June 12.

The awards the PFWA membership will vote on:

George Halas Award (NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed)

Good Guy Award (NFL player for his qualities and professional style in helping pro football writers do their jobs)

Dick McCann Award (Reporter who has made a long and distinguished contribution to pro football through coverage)

Jack Horrigan Award (League or club official for his or her qualities and professional style in helping the pro football writers do their job)

Pete Rozelle Award (NFL club public relations staff that consistently strives for excellence in its dealings and relationships with the media)

Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award (Lifetime achievement as an assistant coach in the NFL)

Here are the biographies of the 2018 nominees in each category.

George Halas Award (NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed):

WR Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers — Allen, the PFWA’s 2017 Comeback Player of the Year rebounded from a ACL injury that sidelined him during the 2016 season opener to finish third in the league in receiving yards in 2017. He caught 102 passes for 1,393 yards in 2017 and was the first player in NFL history to have three straight games of at least ten catches, 100 receiving yards and a touchdown.

QB Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles — A Pro Bowler in 2013, Foles saw his new bride, Tori, fall ill the next year with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and Lyme Disease. He spent a month with her in the hospital, then his career hit the skids in 2015 and he came close to retiring. After deciding to be a backup, first in Kansas City and then in Philadelphia, Foles found his groove. He replaced Carson Wentz last season and was named MVP of Super Bowl LII.

WR Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers — Goodwin and his wife, Morgan, lost their baby boy during childbirth. Hours later, he played against the Giants on Nov. 12. After catching an 83-yard touchdown pass, he fell to his knees, overcome with emotion. It was the key play in the 49ers’ first victory of the year. Goodwin’s father also died during the season. Goodwin had two diagnosed concussions in 2017, but had a career year with 56 catches for 962 yards. and 2 TD.

T Nate Solder, New York Giants — Solder found out in October that his three-year-old son Hudson had a recurrence of kidney cancer. Chemotherapy treatments were scheduled on off days so Solder could be present. Solder, a testicular cancer survivor himself, protected Tom Brady’s blindside on a team that won the AFC Championship, and then became the highest paid offensive tackle in the NFL after signing with the Giants.

Head Coach Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings — Zimmer coached the Vikings to a 13-3 record, the NFC’s No. 2 seed and the NFC Championship Game in 2017 despite having vision problems that led to eight eye surgeries.

Good Guy Award (NFL player for his qualities and professional style in helping pro football writers do their jobs):

DT Calais Campbell, Jacksonville Jaguars — Campbell had multiple nominations for consistently handling the responsibilities, and handling them well, of a veteran player on a young team in its return to playoff prominence.

S Malcom Jenkins, Philadelphia Eagles — Jenkins was lauded for his willingness to speak on a variety of topics, including off-the-field issues in his community and communities around the league.

DE Chris Long, Philadelphia Eagles — Long was not only available to local and national writers on a consistent basis, but offered thoughtful answers on a variety of topics, both on and off the field.

QB Josh McCown, New York Jets — McCown was available for one-on-one interviews during and after the season, in addition to his regularly scheduled media sessions. He has been honest, insightful and humorous, always filling reporters’ notebooks. As someone who has played for many teams, McCown is a willing resource for league-related stories.

T Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns (retired) — For a Browns’ team that has gone 1-31 over the last two seasons, those willing to face the day-to-day duties of facing the media can be in short supply. Thomas was lauded for his willingness to speak for many and to offer answers that went above and beyond what many would have given.

TE Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (retired) — Witten was nominated for being a consistently willing, and able, player in a high-profile market who consistently spoke to issues in and around the team.

Dick McCann Award (Reporter who has made a long and distinguished contribution to pro football through coverage):

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times — For his first 16 of his 18 years at the Los Angeles Times, Sam covered the NFL without a team in his market. He was named California Sportswriter of the Year in 2016. Sam also was the Raiders beat reporter for five seasons with the San Jose Mercury News.

Clark Judge, Talk of Fame Network — Clark started covering the NFL in 1982 at the Baltimore Evening Sun. He went on to cover the Chargers and 49ers before becoming a columnist for FoxSports.com and CBSSports.com. He is member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

Jeff Legwold, ESPN.com — Legwold has written about the NFL for over 25 years. He covered the Broncos for nine years for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News before joining ESPN.com in 2013. He represents Denver on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is a member of the Hall’s senior selection committee. Legwold was the PFWA president for the 2015-16 seasons.

Gary Myers, New York Daily News — Myers was the New York Daily News‘ NFL columnist from 1989 to 2018. He began covering the Cowboys in 1981 for the Dallas Morning News and became the paper’s columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee member and author of the books “The Catch” , “My First Coach” and “Brady vs. Manning”.

Charean Williams, Pro Football Talk — The first female Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and first female PFWA president (2009-10) covered the NFL for 17 years at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She previously covered the Buccaneers for six years at the Orlando Sentinel. Charean joined Pro Football Talk in 2017.

Jack Horrigan Award (League or club official for his or her qualities and professional style in helping the pro football writers do their job):

Chris Ballard, Indianapolis Colts general manager — Ballard brought a new transparency to the Colts organization after he was hired in 2017, and he frequently was made available to the press to address a variety of issues, from Andrew Luck’s recovery to the Josh McDaniels coaching situation. After the draft in April, Ballard invited the Colts’ local media corps to watch film of the 2018 draft class to provide insight to why the team made the selections it did.

Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner/president/general manager — Jones is the rare media-friendly owner who meets with local and national media members on a weekly basis during the NFL season, including immediately after each game, and provides insights not just one his own team but on a host of league-wide issues.

Randall Liu, former NFL senior director of football communications — Liu spent 18 years on the NFL’s communications staff, and he was well respected among writers for his professionalism, promptness, candor and effectiveness in coordinating media access at the league’s major events, including the Super Bowl. Liu recently began his new job as VP, Communications for CBS Sports.

Brian McCarthy, NFL VP of communications — McCarthy serves as the primary spokesperson on day-to-day NFL issues, and is prompt and professional in his dealings with reporters. In the 2017 season, McCarthy coordinated weekly conference calls with former spokesman Joe Lockhart for briefings on a variety of on- and off-field issues, and he helped make other league officials available for briefings on major topics.

Les Snead, Los Angeles Rams general manager — Snead is frequently available to local and national media throughout the year, not just during the season. He is refreshingly candid about the moves he makes to build the Rams roster and provides a transparency to the process that is rarely seen in the NFL.

Pete Rozelle Award (NFL club public relations staff that consistently strives for excellence in its dealings and relationships with the media):

Buffalo Bills — Derek Boyko left Philadelphia and moved to Buffalo, overseeing a staff of Chris Jenkins, Kevin Kearns and Chris Fanelli. They earned high praise in nominations by PFWA members who cover the Bills as well as members of the national media. Buffalo hasn’t won the Pete Rozelle Award.

Denver Broncos — Patrick Smyth and assistants Seth Medvin and Erich Schubert have been consistently outstanding. They have received enough votes to make an annual appearance among the five finalists, except in years when they haven’t been eligible. Since Smyth took over the department, the Broncos have won the Rozelle Award in 2014 and 2016.

Los Angeles Rams — Artis Twyman and assistants Julia Faron, Tiffany White, Travis Langer and Joanna Hunter have worked diligently to help the media navigate a difficult logistics issue since they moved from St. Louis. Twyman’s staff received strong support locally and nationally. The Rams haven’t won the Rozelle Award since 1997 when Rick Smith was in charge of media relations.

Miami Dolphins — Jason Jenkins and his staff of Matt Taylor, Theresa Garner, Brett Brecheisen, Renzo Sheppard, Gayle Baden and Sydney Wade have done a terrific job through the years of helping South Florida reporters who cover the team. The Dolphins haven’t won the Rozelle Award since 1999 when Harvey Greene headed the department.

Minnesota Vikings — Under longtime executive director Bob Hagan, who heads an impressive staff of Tom West, Jeff Anderson, Jon Ekstrom and Sam Newton, the Vikings excelled in helping Twin Cities and national media cover the club. They received strong support from reporters who cover the team. The Vikings have never won the Rozelle Award.

Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award (Lifetime achievement as an assistant coach in the NFL):

Joe Bugel — Bugel spent 32 years in the NFL, including 27 as an assistant coach. He began his NFL career with Detroit (1975-76) and spent four seasons with the Houston Oilers (1977-80). He was best known for the Hogs, the Redskins’ large, powerful unit that helped running back John Riggins thrive and enabled Washington to overcome quarterback transitions from 1981-89. He was the Phoenix Cardinals head coach from 1990-93, was an assistant with Oakland from 1995-96 and the Raiders’ head coach in 1997. He returned to the assistant ranks with the San Diego Chargers (1998-2001) and finished his career with the Redskins (2004-09). He coached in three Super Bowls (XVII, XVIII, XXII) with the Redskins, winning two.

Bobb McKittrick — McKittrick, who developed undersized offensive lines during 21 years and five Super Bowl titles with San Francisco, spent 28 years as a NFL offensive line coach. His 49ers lines protected quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young during 21 seasons (1979-99) with San Francisco. McKittrick was an assistant for the Los Angeles Rams (1971-72) and San Diego (1974-78) before joining the 49ers in 1979. He coached in five Super Bowls (XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV, XXIX) with the 49ers, winning all five, and was one of only four 49ers coaches who were part of all five title teams.

Jim McNally — McNally spent his entire 28-year NFL career as a offensive line coach, including 15 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals (1980-94), where he tutored HOFer Anthony Munoz, and stints with the Carolina Panthers (1995-98), New York Giants (1999-2003) and the Buffalo Bills (2004-07). He coached in three Super Bowls (XVI, XXIII with the Bengals and XXXV with the Giants), winning one, and four conference title games, including the 1996 NFC title game with Carolina in only the Panthers’ second season of existence.

Emmitt Thomas — Thomas is in his 38th season in 2018 as a NFL coach, and his ninth (2010-present) with the Kansas City Chiefs as the defensive backs coach. After a stellar pro playing career, the 2008 Pro Football Hall of Famer began his NFL coaching career with the St. Louis Cardinals (1981-85) as a tight ends/wide receivers coach. He moved to Washington and spent nine seasons with the Redskins (1986-94) as a wide receivers, and later, secondary coach. He was a defensive coordinator with Philadelphia (1995-98), Green Bay (1999) and Minnesota (2000-01). He joined Atlanta in 2002 and worked nine seasons (2002-09), including a stint as interim head coach in 2007. Known for his ability to develop young players, Thomas has coached in two Super Bowls (XXII, XXVI). winning both with the Redskins, and four conference title games.

Dave Toub — Toub is in his 18th season in 2018 as a NFL special teams coach, and is starting his sixth (2013-present) with the Kansas City Chiefs – his first as assistant head coach/special teams coordinator. He spent nine years with Chicago (2004-12), and his Bears’ special teams units finished in the top third of the league for eight straight seasons (2004-11) according to the Dallas Morning News ranking system. He began his NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles (2001-03). Toub has coached in one Super Bowl (XLI) with the Bears.

The 2018 PFWA Off-Field Awards will be announced each day from June 12-15 and June 18-19. The announcement schedule (release time 1 pm ET each day on ProFootballWriters.org, @PFWAwriters on Twitter and by email to members and media outlets)

Tuesday, June 12:Dick McCann Award
Wednesday, June 13: George Halas Award
Thursday, June 14: Good Guy Award
Friday, June 15: Jack Horrigan Award
Monday, June 18: Pete Rozelle Award
Tuesday, June 19: Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award

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