Washington head coach Ron Rivera, who battled squamous cell carcinoma and made a full recovery, was selected as the 2022 George Halas Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
Rivera, the 54th Halas Award winner, is the fourth member of the Washington franchise to receive the honor from the PFWA and the second in as many years, joining Billy Kilmer (1976), Pat Fischer (1978) and Alex Smith (2021).
Other 2022 nominees for the Halas Award were Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby, Philadelphia Eagles tackle Lane Johnson and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
The Halas Award is given to an NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed. The award is named for Halas, a charter member (1963) of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, who was associated with the Chicago Bears and NFL from their inception in 1920 until his death in 1983 as an owner, manager, player and promoter. Halas won 324 games and six NFL titles in 40 seasons as a coach.
The Halas Award is one of the two oldest awards presented by the PFWA, along with the Bill Nunn Jr. Award, presented to a reporter who has made a long and distinguished contribution to pro football through coverage.
Rivera, a finalist for the Halas Award for the second time in as many years, was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in his neck in August 2020. Over seven weeks during the 2020 season, he received 35 proton therapy treatments and three chemotherapy cycles. Rivera lost more than 30 pounds and had to receive IV treatments at halftime of games, but he never missed a game while leading his team to the playoffs in his first year as head coach. Rivera made a full recovery, and he announced in January 2021 he was cancer free. In October 2021, the Washington Football Team wore a special helmet decal and made a $25,000 donation to the St. Jude Red Frog Events Proton Therapy Center in his honor after his one-year biopsy came back negative.
ABOUT THE PFWA: In its 59th season in 2022, 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. Lindsay Jones of The Athletic is the PFWA president for the 2021-22 seasons and the organization’s 30th president. Jenny Vrentas of Sports Illustrated is the PFWA’s first vice-president, Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News is the second vice-president and Mike Sando of The Athletic is the secretary-treasurer. At-large board members include Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post, USA Today’s Mike Jones, ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold and ProFootballTalk.com’s Charean Williams. Follow the PFWA at ProFootballWriters.org and on Twitter at @PFWAwriters.
GEORGE HALAS AWARD WINNERS (To the NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed) Year indicates when award was presented for previous season: 1969 – Joe Namath (New York Jets); 1970 – Gale Sayers (Chicago Bears); 1971 – Tom Dempsey (New Orleans Saints); 1972 – Jimmy Johnson (San Francisco 49ers); 1973 – Mike Tilleman (Atlanta Falcons); 1974 – Dick Butkus (Chicago Bears); 1975 – Rocky Bleier (Pittsburgh Steelers); 1976 – Billy Kilmer (Washington Redskins); 1977 – Tom DeLeone (Cleveland Browns); 1978 – Pat Fischer (Washington Redskins); 1979 – Bert Jones (Baltimore Colts); 1980 – Roger Staubach (Dallas Cowboys); 1981 – Rolf Benirschke (San Diego Chargers); 1982 – Joe Klecko (New York Jets); 1983 – Eddie Lee Ivery (Green Bay Packers); 1984 – Ted Hendricks (Los Angeles Raiders); 1985 – John Stallworth (Pittsburgh Steelers); 1986 – Gary Jeter (Los Angeles Rams); 1987 – William Andrews (Atlanta Falcons); 1988 – Joe Montana (San Francisco 49ers); 1989 – Karl Nelson (New York Giants); 1990 – Tim Krumrie (Cincinnati Bengals); 1991 – Dan Hampton (Chicago Bears); 1992 – Mike Utley (Detroit Lions); 1993 – Mark Bavaro (Cleveland Browns); 1994 – Joe Montana (San Francisco 49ers); 1995 – Dan Marino (Miami Dolphins); 1996 – Larry Brown (Oakland Raiders); 1997 – Jim Harbaugh (Indianapolis Colts); 1998 – Mark Schlereth (Denver Broncos); 1999 – Dan Reeves (Atlanta Falcons); 2000 – Bryant Young (San Francisco 49ers); 2001 – Kerry Collins (New York Giants); 2002 – Garrison Hearst (San Francisco 49ers); 2003 – Robert Edwards (Miami Dolphins); 2004 – Sam Mills (Carolina Panthers); 2005 – Mark Fields (Carolina Panthers); 2006 – Tony Dungy (Indianapolis Colts); 2007 – Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints); 2008 – Kevin Everett (Buffalo Bills); 2009 – Matt Bryant (Tampa Bay Buccaneers); 2010 – Mike Zimmer (Cincinnati Bengals); 2011 – Mike Heimerdinger (Tennessee Titans); 2012 – Robert Kraft (New England Patriots); 2013 – Chuck Pagano (Indianapolis Colts); 2014 – O.J. Brigance (Baltimore Ravens); 2015 – Steve Gleason (New Orleans Saints); 2016 – Eric Berry (Kansas City Chiefs); 2017 – David Quessenberry (Houston Texans); 2018 – Marquise Goodwin (San Francisco 49ers); 2019 – Ryan Shazier (Pittsburgh Steelers); 2020 – Travis Frederick (Dallas Cowboys); 2021 – Alex Smith (Washington Football Team); 2022 – Ron Rivera (Washington Football Team)