The Indianapolis Colts public relations staff, lauded for access for local and national media especially in the wake of the sudden retirement of quarterback Andrew Luck before the start of the 2019 season, has been selected as the 2020 Pete Rozelle Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
The Colts PR staff, the 31st Rozelle Award winner, earned the award for the second time in franchise history (1996).
The other 2020 nominees for the Rozelle Award were the Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Rozelle Award is given to the NFL club public relations staff that consistently strives for excellence in its dealings and relationships with the media. The award is named for Rozelle, NFL commissioner from 1960-89, who started his distinguished career in sports PR roles as a student at both Compton (Calif.) Junior College and the University of San Francisco. After two more years as USF’s assistant athletic director after graduation, he broke into the NFL as the PR director of the Los Angeles Rams from 1952-55. Rozelle used his PR principles as commissioner to build relationships with the media during a period of unprecedented growth and challenge for the league.
During the 2019 season, the Colts’ PR staff consisted of Steve Campbell (vice president of communications), Matt Conti (director of football communications), Christian Edwards (assistant director of communications) and Pamela Humphrey (communications coordinator). The Colts were also assisted by interns Hayden Clark and Kaila Lewis.
“This shouldn’t be surprising. Steve Campbell, Matt Conti and the entire Colts PR staff, which also features Christian Edwards, Pam Humphrey and interns Hayden Clark and Kaila Lewis, have been one of the top PR staffs in the NFL for a number of years,” said Mike Wells, PFWA Indianapolis chapter vice president, who covers the Colts for ESPN.com “They were put to the test before the regular season even started when Andrew Luck delivered arguably one of the biggest stories of the year when he announced his retirement. The news broke in the second half of a preseason game the night before the presser was originally scheduled. But just like the demeanor of general manager Chris Ballard and coach Frank Reich, the Colts PR staff didn’t get rattled. They put together a press conference that night at Lucas Oil Stadium that featured Luck, Reich, Ballard and owner Jim Irsay. It ran so smoothly that you would have thought it was scheduled for that night.
“The Colts keep everything running by schedule from transcripts, having key players, Reich and the coordinators available at the same time on a regular basis. They also did their best to try to pull off unique interview requests,” said Wells. “Not every team in the NFL can say they give that type of access to the media. The Colts can, and that’s why they’re the best at what they do.”
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.
PETE ROZELLE AWARD WINNERS (To the club public relations department that consistently strives for excellence in its dealings and relationships with the media) Year indicates when award was presented for previous season: 1990 – Denver Broncos; 1991 – Pittsburgh Steelers; 1992 – Seattle Seahawks; 1993 – Miami Dolphins; 1994 – Houston Oilers; 1995 – New York Giants; 1996 – Indianapolis Colts; 1997 – St. Louis Rams; 1998 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 1999 – Miami Dolphins; 2000 – Tennessee Titans; 2001 – New York Giants; 2002 – Philadelphia Eagles; 2003 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 2004 – Houston Texans; 2005 – Philadelphia Eagles; 2006 – Cincinnati Bengals; 2007 – Houston Texans; 2008 – Seattle Seahawks; 2009 – Arizona Cardinals; 2010 – Houston Texans; 2011 – Baltimore Ravens; 2012 – Houston Texans; 2013 – Baltimore Ravens; 2014 – Denver Broncos; 2015 – Pittsburgh Steelers; 2016 – Denver Broncos; 2017 – Baltimore Ravens & Houston Texans; 2018 – Minnesota Vikings; 2019 – Los Angeles Rams; 2020 – Indianapolis Colts