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 2016 Off-Field Awards balloting is underway through June 15, with the final results announced later in June.
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), which will have a class of four members again this year.
Here are the biographies of the 2016 nominees in each category.
George Halas Award (NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed):
S Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs — Berry overcame lymphoma, won the PFWA’s Comeback Player of the Year award, was selected first-team All-NFL by the PFWA and made the Pro Bowl.
CB Delvin Breaux, New Orleans Saints — Breaux was never cleared to play in college after breaking three vertebrae in his neck in high school, so he played semi-pro, Arena League and the CFL before signing with the Saints last year and becoming their top CB as a first-year player.
Bruce DeHaven, Carolina Panthers special teams coordinator — DeHaven coached the Panthers to Super Bowl 50 with terminal prostate cancer.
G Richie Incognito, Buffalo Bills — Incognito was out of football for a year after a bullying scandal, and he came back to have a career year, making the Pro Bowl as an alternate and earning a contract extension.
QB Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals — Palmer tore his ACL for a second time and came back at the age of 35 to have a career year.
OL Nate Solder, New England Patriots — After overcoming testicular cancer in 2014, Solder dealt with a torn biceps this year and his infant son was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer.
Good Guy Award (NFL player for his qualities and professional style in helping pro football writers do their jobs):
DE Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals — Among several nominations, Campbell was chosen because of the consistency in his approach to the media and respect he showed members of the media.
LB Thomas Davis, Carolina Panthers — Davis was cited for his “constant professionalism’’ in his dealing with media, including coverage of how he would play in Super Bowl 50 with a broken arm.
T Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles — Johnson received multiple nominations and one of those said: “Always available to the media, he doesn’t know how to lie. Ask him a hard question, he won’t dodge it. Ask him a question that others would respond ‘no comment’ to, he’ll give you a thoughtful, honest answer. He was a Godsend in the short-lived Chip Kelly era.”.
LB DeMarcus Ware, Denver Broncos — Ware received several nominations from both local and national writers. Cited for his honesty, depth and willingness to be out front on the league’s No. 1 defense to offer some perspective along the way.
T Eric Winston, Cincinnati Bengals/NFLPA President — Among the nominations, Winston was cited “for the clarity he brings to the issues facing the players.”
Dick McCann Award (Reporter who has made a long and distinguished contribution to pro football through coverage):
Ron Borges, Boston Herald — Borges worked 24 years at the Boston Globe and has been a columnist for the Boston Herald since 2008. He has been named Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year four times. Borges represents New England on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and also serves on the Hall’s senior selection committee.
Vinny DiTrani, Bergen Record (retired) — “The Sage,” as Bill Parcells called him, covered the New York Giants for 34 years. DiTrani became the first media member to announce a pick at the NFL draft in 2010 at Radio City Music Hall. He formerly served on 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.
Ira Kaufman, SportsTalkFlorida.com — Kaufman has covered the NFL for several years, including 25 with the Tampa Tribune before the paper was folded in May 2016. He now serves as a columnist on SportsTalkFlorida.com and is the Tampa Bay representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.
Chris Mortensen, ESPN.com — Mortensen joined ESPN as a senior NFL analyst in 1991. Prior to ESPN, he worked at The Sporting News, was a contributing writer for Sport magazine and covered the NFL for The National. He began writing about the NFL at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering the Falcons in 1985. He is battling Stage IV throat cancer, as announced in January 2016.
Jack Horrigan Award (League or club official for his or her qualities and professional style in helping the pro football writers do their job):
John Elway, Denver Broncos executive VP of football operations/general manager — Elway has built a championship team with some bold personnel moves and a refreshingly candid and open media policy. He is available, informative and helpful to beat people and national writers alike.
Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner/president/general manager — Jones has been one of the most compelling – and controversial – owners since purchasing the Cowboys in 1989. He is also one of the most quotable and easily accessible owners in the league.
Mike Mayock, NFL Network analyst — Mayock has become an indispensable part of the draft process with his incredible breadth of knowledge and terrific ability to translate that information for what has turned into a cottage industry of draft analysis. A veritable quote machine whose intelligence is matched only by his energy.
Brian McCarthy, NFL VP of communications — At a time when NFL news and controversial stories continue to dominate the 24-hour news cycle, McCarthy has become an indispensable contact for information and guidance. He has a tough act to follow in Greg Aiello, but has carried the baton in impressive fashion.
Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers head coach — The Panthers’ rise to Super Bowl prominence last year only underscored what Panthers’ beat writers and others who have known Rivera along the way as a player and assistant coach. He is open, honest and thoughtful in his media interactions, and is one of the most patient and understanding people in the league.
Pete Rozelle Award (NFL club public relations staff that consistently strives for excellence in its dealings and relationships with the media):
Arizona Cardinals — Mark Dalton, VP, media relations; Chris Melvin, director, media relations; Mike Helm, manager, media relations; Matt Storey, media relations coordinator; Morgan Tholen, media relations assistant
Cincinnati Bengals — Jack Brennan, public relations director; P.J. Combs, assistant public relations director; Inky Moore, public relations assistant
Denver Broncos — Patrick Smyth, VP of public relations; Erich Schubert, senior manager of media relations; Rebecca Villanueva, corporate communications manager; Seth Medvin, media relations coordinator
Miami Dolphins — Jason Jenkins, VP of communications; Matt Taylor, director of football communications; Theresa Manahan, communications manager; Hank Nathan, football communications manager; Gayle Baden, communications coordinator; Michael Farnham, communications coordinator
New York Giants — Corry Rush, director of public relations; DeAndre Phillips, director of communications; Phyllis Hayes, assistant; Allison Stangeby, VP of community & corporate relations; Pat Hanlon, senior VP of communications
Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award – Class of 2016 (Lifetime achievement as an assistant coach in the NFL) – Class of 2016 will have two members:
Monte Kiffin — In his 29th season as an NFL assistant, including 17 as a defensive coordinator, Kiffin is the current defensive assistant for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He spent 13 seasons as Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator (1996-2008), where he built the Bucs’ unit into one that ranked in the top 10 in the NFL 11 times. The 2002 PFWA Assistant Coach of the Year, Kiffin coached in Super Bowl XXXVII with the Buccaneers.
Bobb McKittrick — McKittrick spent 28 years as an offensive line coach, and he is best known for his work developing undersized lines during 21 seasons with San Francisco. He coached in five Super Bowls (XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV, XXIX) with the 49ers, winning all five.
Wade Phillips — In his 39th season in the NFL and 30th as an assistant coach, Phillips is the current defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos. He has been a part of 20 different top-10 defensive units during his NFL career and has coached five Pro Football Hall of Famers. A two-time PFWA Assistant Coach of the Year (2011 and 2015/co-winner), Phillips has coached in two Super Bowls (XXIV and 50), both with the Broncos.
The 2016 PFWA Off-Field Awards will be announced each day from June 20-24, with the Dr. Z Award announcement tentatively set for June 27. The announcement schedule (release time 1 pm ET each day on ProFootballWriters.org, @PFWAwriters on Twitter and by email to members and media outlets)
Monday, June 20: George Halas Award
Tuesday, June 21: Good Guy Award
Wednesday, June 22: Dick McCann Award
Thursday, June 23: Jack Horrigan Award
Friday, June 24: Pete Rozelle Award
Monday, June 27 (tentative): Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award