PFWA announces 2018 Dick Connor Writing Awards

Greg Bishop of Sports Illustrated and Tim Graham of the Buffalo News each won two first-place awards while D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jenny Vrentas of SI.com/TheMMQB, Ben Shpigel of the New York Times and Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com also won first place in their respective categories in the Professional Football Writers of America’s 2018 Dick Connor Writing Awards.

The Connor Awards encompass news, game stories, columns, features and enterprise features written by PFWA members from post-Super Bowl LI in Houston through Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.

The awards are named for Connor, the ninth PFWA president (1980-81) and the organization’s 1991 Dick McCann Award recipient, who worked for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News. Connor was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame in 1992 and was a 22-time Colorado Sports Writer of the Year honoree.

Bishop took first place in the Columns category for “How Blair Walsh’s infamous missed field goal may have saved a young fan’s life” and tied for first in Game Stories for “A play call for the ages and a (backup) QB that amazes: How the Eagles won Super Bowl LII”. Bishop has won a first-place award in Game Stories for four consecutive years.

Graham tied for first-place honors in News for “Gold Star family with opposing views finds unity after Bills protest during anthem” and took first in Enterprise Features for “The ‘other’ Goodell: How NFL commissioner’s dad ran afoul of Nixon”.

Other category winners were Ledbetter, who tied for first in the News category for “Team thankful as Blank backs anthem protests”, Vrentas, who tied for first in the Game Stories category with “‘A team makes a miracle’: How the underdog Eagles became the unlikeliest Super Bowl champs”, Shpigel, who tied for first in Game Stories with “At long last, the Eagles capture their first Super Bowl” and Wickersham, who took first place in Features for “For Kraft, Brady and Belichick, is this the beginning of the end?”.

Vrentas and Wickersham each earned three individual awards. Vrentas, in addition to her first-place award in Game Stories, also earned third place in both Features and Enterprise Features (Enterprise Feature entry was co-bylined with Robert Klemko). Wickersham, in addition to his first-place award in Features, also earned a pair of second-place awards in Enterprise Features (one of which was co-bylined with Don Van Natta, Jr.).

In all, 15 different PFWA members received a first-, second- or third-place award.

The 2018 Dick Connor Writing Awards were judged by David McHam, retired journalism professor at the University of Houston who was the head of the journalism school at both Baylor and SMU and worked at Texas-Arlington before moving to UH.

The full list of the 2018 winners follows:

2018 DICK CONNOR WRITING AWARDS

News
1. (Tie) Tim Graham, Buffalo News: Gold Star family with opposing views finds unity after Bills protest during anthem; D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Team thankful as Blank backs anthem protests
2. Dave Tuley, VSiN.com: Nevada Super Bowl handle
3. Howard Balzer, The Sports Xchange: Hall of Fame class: ‘Could be the start of a pretty good team’

Game Stories
1. (Tie) Jenny Vrentas, SI.com/TheMMQB: ‘A team makes a miracle’: How the underdog Eagles became the unlikeliest Super Bowl champs; Ben Shpigel, New York Times: At long last, the Eagles capture their first Super Bowl; Greg Bishop, Sports Illustrated: A play pall for the ages and a (backup) QB that amazes: How the Eagles won Super Bowl LII
2. Ben Goessling, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Game and playoff dream appeared over – until Stefon Diggs came to the rescue

Columns
1. Greg Bishop, Sports Illustrated: How Blair Walsh’s infamous missed field goal may have saved a young fan’s life
2. Peter Bukowski, SB Nation: What people really mean when they say “Stick to Sports”
3. (Tie) Paul Woody, Richmond Times-Dispatch: Countess’ vicious hit a vivid reminder of football’s danger; Scott Fowler, Charlotte Observer: Only one way for Panthers to remove stain of bombshell report on Jerry Richardson

Features
1. Seth Wickersham, ESPN.com: For Kraft, Brady and Belichick, is this the beginning of the end?
2. Scott Fowler, Charlotte Observer: Rae Carruth’s prison release nears as son he wanted dead turns 18
3. Jenny Vrentas, SI.com/TheMMQB: Belichick and Saban: The stories behind football’s most powerful friendship

Enterprise Features
1. Tim Graham, Buffalo News: The ‘other’ Goodell: How NFL commissioner’s dad ran afoul of Nixon
2. (Tie) Seth Wickersham, ESPN the Magazine/ESPN.com: Sin City or Bust; Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr. ESPN.com: NFL owners struggled to retain control after Trump’s attacks, rise of player protests
3. (Tie) Ben Baskin, Sports Illustrated: What Colin Kaepernick’s philanthropy tells us about his vision for social change in America; Jenny Vrentas and Robert Klemko, SI.com/TheMMQB: The great Super Bowl jersey caper

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. Founded in 1964, the PFWA is made up of accredited writers who cover the NFL and the 32 teams daily. Bob Glauber, the national football columnist for Newsday, is the organization’s president for the 2018 season, while Bleacher Report national columnist Dan Pompei is the PFWA’s first vice-president. Follow the PFWA at ProFootballWriters.org and on Twitter at @PFWAwriters.

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