Sam Farmer, who is in his 25th year of NFL coverage in 2019, and his 19th at the Los Angeles Times, has been selected as the 2019 Dick McCann Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
Farmer, the 51st McCann Award honoree, is the second member of the Los Angeles Times to receive the McCann Award, joining Bob Oates (1974).
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 2019 nominees for the McCann Award were Jarrett Bell (USA Today), Vinny DiTrani (Bergen Record-retired), Clark Judge (Talk of Fame Network), Jeff Legwold (ESPN.com) and Gary Myers (The Athletic).
Farmer has been with the Times since 2000 as the paper’s NFL columnist, and for the first 16 years, he covered the league without a team in the Los Angeles market and chronicled the long process of the NFL’s return to L.A., culminating in the NFL owners’ approval of the Rams’ move from St. Louis in 2016.
He was selected as the 2016 California Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, and he won first place in beat writing by the Associated Press Sports Editors in 2016 and was a top-10 finisher in the category in 2019.
Farmer has had a wide variety of assignments during his career, such as traveling to Israel with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and 18 Hall of Fame players, climbing Mt. Rainier with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, sitting alongside Al Michaels and John Madden in the “Monday Night Football” booth, traveling with an officiating crew and piloting the Goodyear blimp.
Born in Madison, Wisconsin, Farmer is a 1988 graduate of Occidental College in Los Angeles. After working at the Times for two years after college, Farmer covered the University of Washington football and basketball programs at the Bellevue (Wash.) Journal-American, then the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics at the Valley Daily News in Kent, Wash.
He moved on to the San Jose Mercury News, where he was an Oakland Raiders beat writer for five seasons (1995-99), before he returned to the Times in 2000.
“This is truly a deserving honor for a man whose name has become synonymous with the NFL in Los Angeles,” said Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times columnist. “For more than two decades, Sam Farmer’s incisive reporting and brilliant writing kept football alive in a city that had no pro teams. An entire generation of young fans remained invested in the absentee league through his smart and colorful prose. Through years of failed ownership groups and broken promises, Farmer continually pushed for the league’s return. Appropriately, when the Rams and Chargers finally moved here, it was Farmer’s investigative instincts that chronicled their journey and his words that paved their way. Having cemented his name in Los Angeles NFL history, Sam Farmer has truly earned his place in Canton.”
“Sam is one of the best storytellers in our business, and he has an imagination second to none among football writers,” said Peter King, the 2009 McCann Award winner who is the NFL Insider for the NBC Sports Group. “So often I read his stories and say to myself, ‘Wish I’d written that.’”
Famer and his wife, Paige, live in Glendale, and have two children, Thomas, 20, and Claire, 17.
Farmer will be honored during the 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls at the Enshrinees’ Gold Jacket Dinner in downtown Canton, Ohio on Friday, Aug. 2 and presented with the award at the 2019 Enshrinement Ceremony on Saturday, August 3 in Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
ABOUT THE PFWA: In its 56th season in 2019, 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. Bob Glauber, the national football columnist for Newsday, is the organization’s president for the 2018-20 seasons. The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones is the PFWA’s first vice-president, Bleacher Report national columnist Dan Pompei is the PFWA’s second vice-president and ESPN.com’s Mike Sando is the PFWA secretary-treasurer. At-large members include ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold, ProFootballtalk.com’s Charean Williams, Sports Illustrated’s Jenny Vrentas and USA Today’s Mike Jones. 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); 2018 – Charean Williams (Pro Football Talk); 2019 – Sam Farmer (Los Angeles Times)