Jim Trotter, national columnist for The Athletic who has covered the NFL since the mid-1990s, has been selected as the 2023 Bill Nunn Jr. Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
Trotter, the 55th Nunn Award honoree, is the first journalist from The Athletic to win the award.
The Nunn Award is given to a reporter who has made a long and distinguished contribution to pro football through coverage. The award is named for Nunn, who prior to his Hall of Fame scouting career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, worked for 22 years at the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the most influential Black publications in the United States. Nunn, who started with the Courier as a sports writer in 1948, regularly covered HBCU events and athletes. He compiled the definitive Black College All-America team for the Courier starting in 1950. Nunn became the sports editor, and he was the paper’s managing editor when the Steelers hired him as a part-time scout in 1966. He was hired as the Steelers’ assistant director of player personnel in 1970, and he stayed with the organization as a scout and personnel executive until his death in 2014. Nunn helped build the Steelers’ dynasty of the 1970s, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a contributor in 2021. The PFWA’s award was renamed for Nunn in 2021.
Other 2023 finalists for the Nunn Award were Mary Kay Cabot (Cleveland Plain Dealer), D. Orlando Ledbetter (Atlanta Journal Constitution), Gary Myers (author) and Barry Wilner (Associated Press).
Trotter joined The Athletic in May 2023, reporting on the NFL, while writing on sports and other topics for the opinion desk. He spent the previous five years (2018-23) as a reporter and columnist for NFL Media, writing for NFL.com and appearing on NFL Network programming and related podcasts. From 2014-18, he worked for ESPN, where he covered the NFL nationally and contributed on multiple platforms. His primary focus was on long-form storytelling. Trotter also reported extensively on player activism and social justice.
He was a senior writer at Sports Illustrated from 2007-14, where his work included an in-depth look at the rebuilding of the Oakland Raiders after the passing of iconic owner Al Davis and the media’s coverage of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor’s death. Prior to Sports Illustrated, Trotter spent 18 years with the San Diego Union-Tribune (1989-2007), among them eight seasons as the lead beat writer for the San Diego Chargers and four as a national NFL columnist. He began his career at The News-Tribune in Tacoma, Washington from 1987-89, where he worked on the same sports staff with 2007 Nunn Award winner John Clayton.
His work also includes two books on the late Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau, including “Junior Seau: The Life and Death of a Football Icon” in 2015.
Trotter is a longtime member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee, including the Hall’s coach/contributor selection committee. He served as the 28th president of the Pro Football Writers of America in 2017.
Born in San Francisco, Trotter graduated from Howard University in 1986 with a degree in broadcast communications.
“We are thrilled that the PFWA has chosen to recognize Jim, and even more thrilled that we get to work with him at The Athletic,” said Lisa Wilson, an editorial director at The Athletic. “He is fearless, a true pro and so deserving of this honor. How fitting that his name will be on an award named after the great Bill Nunn.”
Trotter will be honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio later this summer.
ABOUT THE PFWA: In its 60th season in 2023, 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. Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News is the PFWA president for the 2023-24 seasons and the organization’s 31st president. Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post is the PFWA’s first vice-president, Michael-Shawn Dugar of The Athletic is the second vice-president, Lindsay Jones of The Ringer is the advisor to the president and Mike Sando of The Athletic is the secretary-treasurer. At-large board members include Mike Jones of The Athletic, ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold, Joe Reedy of the Associated Press and ProFootballTalk.com’s Charean Williams. Follow the PFWA at ProFootballWriters.org and on Twitter at @PFWAwriters.
BILL NUNN JR. 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); 2020 – Don Banks (SI.com); 2021 – Bob Glauber (Newsday); 2022 – Jarrett Bell (USA Today); 2023 – Jim Trotter (The Athletic)