D. Orlando Ledbetter selected as PFWA 2024 Bill Nunn Jr. Award winner

D. Orlando Ledbetter, who writes about the Atlanta Falcons for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and has covered the NFL since the late 1980s, has been selected as the 2024 Bill Nunn Jr. Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).

Ledbetter, the 56th Nunn Award honoree, is the first journalist who primarily worked at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution 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 2024 finalists for the Nunn Award were Mary Kay Cabot (Cleveland Plain Dealer), Vic Carucci (The33rdTeam.com/SiriusXM), Jeff Legwold (ESPN.com) and Barry Wilner (Associated Press).

Ledbetter joined the AJC in 2003, and he moved to the Falcons beat in 2005. During his time covering the Falcons, he was one of the lead writers in the AJC’s coverage of the Michael Vick dog fighting federal case in 2007 and described the Falcons run to the NFC title and a berth in Super Bowl LI. He also hosts a podcast for the AJC, the “Bow Tie Chronicles”.

Among his other professional honors, Ledbetter was selected as the 2022 Georgia Co-Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association to go with three Associated Press Sports Editors writing awards and a PFWA Dick Connor Writing Awards category first-place honor while covering the Falcons and the NFL.

Prior to Atlanta, Ledbetter spent eight years (1992-2000) at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, seven as a writer covering the Green Bay Packers, the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and Marquette University basketball, and his final year as a columnist for the newspaper.

Ledbetter worked for seven years (1985-92) with the Cincinnati Enquirer, covering the Cincinnati Bengals, Ohio State football and basketball and high school sports. He started his journalism career at the Charlotte Observer (1984-86), writing about high school athletics.

During his time in Cincinnati, Ledbetter graduated with a Juris Doctorate from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1990. After moving to Milwaukee, he passed the State Bar of Wisconsin and became a practicing attorney while writing for the Journal Sentinel. He has also practiced law in the Atlanta area.

He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Georgia’s Carmical Sports Media Institute, was an adjunct professor at Clark Atlanta University and he has lectured at the Marquette University National Sports Law Institute.

Ledbetter is a longtime member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee, including the Hall’s seniors selection committee. He served as the 26th president of the Pro Football Writers of America during the 2013-14 seasons.

Born in St. Louis, Ledbetter graduated from Howard University in 1984 with a degree in journalism.

“I am honored and humbled to be named as the Nunn Award winner this year, and it is always wonderful to be cited by a group of your peers. As a product of a HBCU at Howard, it is a particular pleasure to me to receive an award named for Bill Nunn Jr.,” Ledbetter said. “It has been an honor to serve the Pro Football Writers of America as a vice president, president and member of the board over the past several years. It is a joy to cover the NFL along with the people and stories that make the game what it is today. I look forward to receiving this award in Canton, and share my joy with my family, friends, co-workers and fellow NFL writers.”

“This award affirms what we in Atlanta have known for years,” said Leroy Chapman, Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor-in-chief. “Darryl is an extraordinary talent and a first-rate journalist. He belongs in Canton.”

Ledbetter will be honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio later this summer.

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); 2024 – D. Orlando Ledbetter (Atlanta-Journal Constitution)

ABOUT THE PFWA: In its 61st season in 2024, 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/X at @PFWAwriters.