Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard, lauded for his transparency with local and national media, has been selected as the 2020 Jack Horrigan Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
Ballard, the 48th Horrigan Award winner, is the first member of the Colts franchise to receive the honor. He was previously honored by the PFWA as the 2018 NFL Executive of the Year.
The Jack Horrigan Award is given to the league or club official for his or her qualities and professional style in helping the pro football writers do their job. The award is named for Horrigan, who was a sportswriter for UPI and the Buffalo Evening News, public relations director for the American Football League (1963-66) and vice president of public relations for the Buffalo Bills (1966-73).
Ballard was nominated for the award for being frequently available for on-the-record conversations about all aspects of the Colts. He holds film sessions with local writers after the draft, a move that has since been emulated in other markets, but he is most respected for his candor and transparency.
Other 2020 nominees for the Horrigan Award were Baltimore Ravens executive vice president Kevin Byrne, Dallas Cowboys owner/president/general manager Jerry Jones, Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn and NFL vice president of communications Brian McCarthy.
“Chris Ballard has gone to great lengths to make the Colts more transparent to their fans, and a major part of that is his willingness to grant media access that helps us bring those fans closer, said Stephen Holder, the Indianapolis PFWA chapter president who covers the Colts for The Athletic. “From his handling of the Josh McDaniels situation in 2018 to his near 90-minute season-ending press conference in January — which did not end until reporters ran out of questions — Ballard has taken the approach of answering questions head on and understanding that the media is not an inconvenience but a conduit to dedicated followers of the team.
“He held a post-draft film session in the Colts’ draft room where he explained the scouting process of each prospect they selected in 2018 and 2019, which was extremely revealing, Holder said. “Reporters on the Colts beat have enjoyed a very good working relationship with Ballard, and we look forward to it continuing during the 2020 season.”
ABOUT THE PFWA: In its 57th season in 2020, 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 and the organization’s 29th president. The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones is the PFWA’s first vice-president, The Athletic’s Dan Pompei is the PFWA’s second vice-president and The Athletic’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.
JACK HORRIGAN AWARD WINNERS (To the league or club official for his or her qualities and professional style in helping the pro football writers do their job) Year indicates when award was presented for previous season: 1973 – John Breen (Houston Oilers); 1974 – O.J. Simpson (Buffalo Bills); 1975 – Art Rooney (Pittsburgh Steelers); 1976 – Floyd Little (Denver Broncos); 1977 – Jerry Wynn (San Diego Chargers); 1978 – Bob Peck (Denver Broncos); 1979 – John Madden (Oakland Raiders); 1980 – Bum Phillips (Houston Oilers); 1981 – Bob Sprenger (Kansas City Chiefs); 1982 – Joe Gordon (Pittsburgh Steelers); 1983 – Archie Manning (New Orleans Saints/Houston Oilers); 1984 – Art Rooney (Pittsburgh Steelers); 1985 – Joe Browne (NFL); 1986 – Dick Steinberg (New England Patriots); 1987 – Charlie Dayton (Atlanta Falcons); 1988 – Art Modell (Cleveland Browns); 1989 – Tom Landry (Dallas Cowboys); 1990 – George Young (New York Giants); 1991 – Jim Finks (New Orleans Saints); 1992 – John Robinson (Los Angeles Rams); 1993 – Warren Moon (Houston Oilers); 1994 – Don Shula (Miami Dolphins); 1995 – Leslie Hammond (NFL); 1996 – Ron Wolf (Green Bay Packers); 1997 – Don Smith (Pro Football Hall of Fame); 1998 – Tony Dungy (Tampa Bay Buccaneers); 1999 – Greg Aiello (NFL); 2000 – Ernie Accorsi (New York Giants); 2001 – Jeff Fisher (Tennessee Titans); 2002 – Charley Casserly (Houston Texans); 2003 – Herman Edwards (New York Jets); 2004 – Ozzie Newsome (Baltimore Ravens); 2005 – Rich McKay (Atlanta Falcons); 2006 – Floyd Reese (Tennessee Titans); 2007 – Steve Alic (NFL); 2008 – Mike Holmgren (Seattle Seahawks); 2009 – Dan Rooney (Pittsburgh Steelers); 2010 – Gil Brandt (NFL.com); 2011 – Rex Ryan (New York Jets); 2012 – Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons); 2013 – Mike Signora (NFL); 2014 – Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks); 2015 – Bruce Arians (Arizona Cardinals); 2016 – John Elway (Denver Broncos); 2017 – Mike Mayock (NFL Network); 2018 – Randall Liu (NFL); 2019 – Joe Horrigan (Pro Football Hall of Fame); 2020 – Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts)