Jori Epstein, the Dallas Cowboys/NFL reporter for USA Today, has been selected as the 2022 Terez A. Paylor Emerging Writer Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
Epstein, the second Paylor Award winner, has covered the NFL and the Cowboys for USA Today since 2018. Epstein was also a finalist for last year’s inaugural award.
The Paylor Award recognizes a rising star in pro football writing who exemplifies the qualities of Paylor, the former Yahoo! Sports and Kansas City Star football writer, who passed away in February 2021 at the age of 37. Paylor joined the Star after graduating from Howard University in 2006 and took over the Kansas City Chiefs beat in 2013. He would spend the next seven-plus years covering the NFL and joined Yahoo! Sports in 2018 as a senior writer to cover the league on a national level.
Epstein, a graduate of the University of Texas, started her career at the Dallas Morning News and she also worked for Sports Illustrated and the Philadelphia Daily News. Considered a diligent and dedicated reporter, she has quickly established herself as a go-to source for news on one of the NFL’s most competitive beats. Her book “The Upstander”, a non-fiction account about Holocaust survivor and activist Max Glauben, was published in 2021.
The other finalists for the 2022 award were Michael-Shawn Dugar (The Athletic), Emmanuel Morgan (New York Times) and Tashan Reed (The Athletic).
“Jori has been a vital part of USA Today Sports’ football coverage since she was hired in 2018, but her unwavering commitment and artful storytelling have helped make her a singular journalist in the NFL world,” said Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA Today NFL editor. “Whether it’s adding a unique spin to a well-covered topic or developing a story that’s completely her own, she always is seeking to uncover something new. Above all, Jori truly cares – about her stories and readers, but also about being truthful yet fair regarding those she covers. The Paylor Award is a fitting recognition of her product and process, and I can’t wait to see what she is able to accomplish in the next few years.”
“Our USA Today Sports team is exceedingly proud of Jori as she is honored with the Terez A. Paylor Emerging Writer Award. Terez was my beloved friend and colleague for many years at the Kansas City Star – I was lucky enough to work alongside him when he was an emerging writer. And now I’m lucky enough to work with Jori,” said Nicole Poell, USA Today senior editor/NFL and college sports. “She embodies everything that made Terez so special: The pure joy in covering football, commitment to growing as a writer and incredible work ethic. Terez will always be missed. Young writers like Jori ensure that his legacy and spirit endure.”
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.
TEREZ A. PAYLOR EMERGING WRITER AWARD WINNER (Rising star in pro football writing): 2021 – Jourdan Rodrigue (The Athletic); 2022 – Jori Epstein (USA Today)