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.
The PFWA has established local chapters in each NFL market to assist members, monitor each club’s adherence to the NFL Media Access Policy and increase PFWA membership by qualified media personnel. Each chapter’s executives work with their local club’s public relations staff and communicates with PFWA officers on issues relating to coverage, all in an effort to fulfill the PFWA’s mission statement to promote and fight for access to NFL personnel to best serve the public.
The PFWA works with the NFL each year to assign pool reporters in every market, who may visit the officials locker room following games to make inquiries about rule interpretations for distribution to all media.
Each year in January, members select the PFWA’s On-Field Awards: All-NFL, All-AFC/NFC and All-Rookie teams along with individual awards for Most Valuable Player, Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Executive of the Year and Assistant Coach of the Year. The PFWA On-Field Awards are announced during the week of the AFC and NFC Championship Games.
In the spring, members nominate and vote for the Off-Field Awards: Good Guy Award (NFL player for his qualities and style in helping pro football writers do their jobs), George Halas Award (NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed), Horrigan Award (league or club official for his or her qualities and style in helping the pro football writers do their job), Bill Nunn Jr. Award (reporter who has made a long and distinguished contribution to pro football through coverage), Terez A. Paylor Emerging Writer Award (rising star in pro football writing), Pete Rozelle Award (NFL club PR staff that consistently strives for excellence in its dealings and relationships with the media) and the Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award (lifetime achievement as an assistant coach in the NFL) The Off-Field Awards are announced prior to clubs finishing their spring OTAs.
The PFWA also conducts the Dick Connor Writing Awards, which honors the best writing by members in beat reporting, columns, features, enterprise news/features, breaking news, and game stories by members. The Connor Awards, which span the period after the Super Bowl and continues through the following year’s Super Bowl, are announced during the preseason each year. Beginning in 2019, the Connor Award categories were named for some of the renowned pro football writers who chronicled the NFL over the league’s first 100 seasons: the Bob Oates Beat Reporting Award (Los Angeles Times reporter and the PFWA’s 1974 Bill Nunn Jr. Award winner), the Dave Anderson Column Writing Award (New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and the 1998 Nunn Award honoree), the Bryan Burwell Feature Writing Award (St. Louis Post-Dispatch and New York Daily News writer and columnist), the Lesley Visser Enterprise News/Features Award (pioneering football writer who became the NFL’s first female beat reporter in 1976 at the Boston Globe and who later worked for CBS), the Will McDonough Breaking News Award (Boston Globe reporter and columnist who went on to a decorated career in TV journalism and the 1990 Nunn Award winner) and the Dave Goldberg Game Story Award (41-year Associated Press reporter and 2015 Nunn Award honoree).
The Art Rooney Scholarship is awarded each year to a child of a PFWA member who is entering his or her freshman year of college. Applications for the Rooney Scholarship are available in early summer each year from the PFWA for children who graduated high school in the spring. The winner is announced at the PFWA’s Annual Meeting during Super Bowl week.
The PFWA (originally established as the Pro Football Writers Association of America or PFWAA) was founded December 28, 1963 in Chicago, and George Strickler of the Chicago Tribune was elected as the organization’s first president. The PFWA selected its’ first All-NFL team in 1966, an All-AFL/NFL team in 1968-69 and again an All-NFL team each season since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. The PFWA has selected All-AFC/NFC teams since 1992 and an All-Rookie Team since 1974. The PFWA first gave a NFL MVP and Rookie of the Year award in 1966, and after a hiatus from 1967-74, the group has selected an MVP and Rookie of the Year each year since 1975. The oldest of the Off-Field Awards selected by the membership are the Halas Award and the Nunn Award (which is presented to the honoree during each year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony in Canton, Ohio), which each date back to 1969.
Follow the PFWA at ProFootballWriters.org and on Twitter at @PFWAwriters.