The PFWA’s Terez A. Paylor Emerging Writer 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 Kansas City Star after graduating from Howard University in 2006, covering everything from preps to arena football to Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer. He also covered the University of Missouri before taking over the Kansas City Chiefs beat in 2013, and he would spend the next seven-plus years covering the NFL.
He joined Yahoo! Sports in 2018 as a senior writer to cover the league on a national level. He was one of 48 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee. He also was a member of the PFWA and National Association of Black Journalists.
Ebony Reed, Paylor’s fiancée, wrote in part after his death, “Terez was an exceptional journalist whose passion for football made his a respected voice. His legacy will leave an enduring impact on sports journalism, the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs and their fans.”
Paylor epitomized what it meant to be a football writer: He loved the game and the grind, he built and maintained countless relationships across the NFL and he was a tremendous friend and mentor to so many of his fellow reporters. His love for football shined through both in his reporting, preparation and writing. He was ambitious, relentless and carried himself with the utmost character. He stood on his convictions and remained undaunted by challenges. He carried himself with the perfect blend of humility and confidence. These traits, and this approach, enabled him to climb the ranks from local reporter to Chiefs beat writer to senior NFL writer and columnist for Yahoo! Sports. His sterling reputation around the league was steadily expanding as players, coaches, team officials, agents and fellow reporters all shared a great respect for him.
In the spring of 2021, the PFWA announced the creation of the award named in Paylor’s honor to be given to a rising star in pro football writing who displays similar traits in their quest to provide outstanding NFL coverage.
TEREZ A. PAYLOR EMERGING WRITER AWARD WINNERS (For a rising star in pro football writing):
2021 — Jourdan Rodrigue (The Athletic)
2022 — Jori Epstein (USA Today)
YEARLY FINALISTS (winners in bold)
2021 — Michael-Shawn Dugar (The Athletic), Jori Epstein (USA Today), Amie Just (New Orleans Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate), Jourdan Rodrigue (The Athletic) and Cam Wolfe (ESPN.com)
2022 — Michael-Shawn Dugar (The Athletic), Jori Epstein (USA Today), Emmanuel Morgan (New York Times), Tashan Reed (The Athletic)