2020s Dick Connor Writing Awards

Connor Writing Awards: 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s

2023 Winners (from post-Super Bowl LVI through Super Bowl LVII)

Bob Oates Beat Reporting
1. Nate Taylor, The Athletic
2. Jourdan Rodrigue, The Athletic
3. Zak Keefer, The Athletic

Dave Anderson Column Writing
1. Marla Ridenour, Akron Beacon Journal: Browns’ Deshaun Watson trade triggers past for sexual assault victims. I am one of them
2. Michael Silver, San Francisco Chronicle: Tom Brady struggled in Levi’s, but could he come back in 2023 as a 49er?
3. Paul Dehner Jr., The Athletic: Zac Taylor shows nation humanity Bengals have long valued, admired

Bryan Burwell Feature Writing
1. Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle: As pastor to 49ers, Warriors and San Quentin, he’s a living lesson on second chances
2. Dan Pompei, The Athletic: ‘I pushed myself to the limit’: Bears great Steve McMichael, as tough as they come on the field, is in the fight of his life
3. Dan Pompei, The Athletic: Lions coach Dan Campbell, ‘Hard Knocks’ star, is confident and (mostly) composed

Lesley Visser Enterprise News/Features
1. Jason Wolf, Arizona Republic: Mismanagement of the Year (series)
2. Seth Wickersham, ESPN.com: Andrew Luck finally reveals why he walked away from the NFL
3. Ken Belson and Jenny Vrentas, New York Times: Hamlin’s injury highlights precarious position of many young NFL players

Will McDonough Breaking News
1. Josh Weinfuss, ESPN.com: Cardinals assistant coach Sean Kugler fired for groping woman, sources say
2. Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Steelers great Franco Harris dies at age 72
3. Clarence Hill Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Former Dallas Cowboys RB Marion Barber found dead in his apartment by Frisco police

Dave Goldberg Game Story
1. Tim Graham, The Athletic: Bills can’t reach finish line but survive inconceivable season
2. Nate Taylor, The Athletic: With revenge on their minds, Chiefs’ O-line dominates Bucs in statement victory
3. Chad Graff, The Athletic: The story behind Marcus Jones’ season-saving punt return for the Patriots

2022 Winners (from post-Super Bowl LV through Super Bowl LVI)

Bob Oates Beat Reporting
1. Chad Graff, The Athletic
2. Zak Keefer, The Athletic
3. Joseph Person, The Athletic

Dave Anderson Column Writing
1. Mike Sielski, Philadelphia Inquirer: The Eagles misread Carson Wentz as a person and a quarterback. This trade is the result of that failure.
2. Seth Wickersham, ESPN.com: Inside the 2021 NFL draft’s toughest decision: The 49ers’ choice at No. 3
3. (tie) Greg Bishop, Sports Illustrated: Sammis Reyes and the Path Never Taken; Ian O’Connor, New York Post: Joe Judge decided his own fate — now John Mara needs to make it official

Bryan Burwell Feature Writing
1. Greg Bishop, Sports Illustrated: Dak Prescott’s Heal Turn
2. Jason Wolf, Buffalo News: ‘He had no memories of it whatsoever’: How Chuck Crist’s family discovered he had CTE
3. Tyler Dunne, GoLongTD.com: The Fight for Erik Kramer’s Life, Part I: A miracle

Lesley Visser Enterprise News/Features
1. Jenny Vrentas, Sports Illustrated: ‘This Woman Asked Me What I Was Wearing’
2. Jason Wolf, Buffalo News: Buffalo Bills fans donated $442,000 to Dalton Foundation. Nearly $100,000 went to management firm
3. Kalyn Kahler, Defector.com: Just How Big A Problem Is Nepotism In NFL Coaching?

Will McDonough Breaking News
1. Chris Tomasson, St. Paul Pioneer Press: After open-heart surgery, Cameron Smith back in action with Vikings: ‘It felt like home again’
2. Seth Wickersham, ESPN.com: Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke angers NFL owners with financial pivot related to lawsuit on St. Louis move, sources say
3. Michael Silver, BallySports.com: Texans chairman Cal McNair uses anti-Asian slur at team event

Dave Goldberg Game Story
1. Greg Bishop and Conor Orr, Sports Illustrated: How the Rams Got Away, Found One Another, Then Found a Way
2. Jason Wolf, Buffalo News: Josh Allen leads seven TD drives as Bills obliterate Patriots, destroy Death Star
3. Ben Shpigel, New York Times: Saints Finally Return Home, to a City That Needed Them

2021 Winners (from post-Super Bowl LIV through Super Bowl LV)

Bob Oates Beat Reporting
1. Rob Demovsky, ESPN.com
2. Zak Keefer, The Athletic
3. Amie Just, New Orleans Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate

Dave Anderson Column Writing
1. Greg Bishop, Sports Illustrated: Sports Agent Buddy Baker Lost Both of His Parents—Six Minutes Apart—After They Contracted COVID-19
2. Mike Sielski, Philadelphia Inquirer: The forgotten story of former Cowboys safety Richmond Flowers Jr. and a brave stand for America
3. (tie) Ian O’Connor, ESPN.com: Tom Brady’s personal workouts are a bad example; Michael Hurley, CBSBoston.com: Setting the record straight on Colin Kaepernick as an NFL quarterback

Bryan Burwell Feature Writing
1. Nicki Jhabvala, Washington Post: The soldier and the quarterback: How Alex Smith and a soldier with a nearly identical leg injury built a lasting friendship out of shared comeback hopes
2. Tim Graham, The Athletic: Stevie Johnson, the drop, the tweet and the box I kept sealed for years
3. (tie) Jenny Vrentas, Sports Illustrated: Lamar Jackson, Quarterback, Redefined; Dan Pompei, The Athletic: ‘My heart is open now’: Former Texans GM Rick Smith’s grief has reshaped his life

Lesley Visser Enterprise News/Features
1. Kalyn Kahler, Sports Illustrated: Pray for Kabeer (series)
2. Jenny Vrentas, Sports Illustrated: How Much Did the Saints Help the Catholic Church on Its Sex Abuse Crisis? More Than They Admitted
3. (tie) Tim Graham, The Athletic: As Pegulas face business challenges, employees describe a ‘toxic culture’ at PSE; Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham, ESPN.com: Donald Trump’s role in an attempt to stop the investigation of the New England Patriots’ Spygate Scandal

Will McDonough Breaking News
1. Scott Fowler, Charlotte Observer: Carolina Panthers take down statue of team founder Jerry Richardson at BofA Stadium
2. Chris Tomasson, St. Paul Pioneer Press: Vikings didn’t cancel practice in response to Jacob Blake shooting because they seek more than ‘a 24-hour shock value’
3. Dennis Waszak Jr., Associated Press: Saleh’s Jets path shaped by 9/11: ‘I’m supposed to be here’

Dave Goldberg Game Story
1. Kevin Fishbain, The Athletic: ‘No one gave up’: How the Bears came back and won a ridiculous game in Atlanta
2. Greg Bishop and Jenny Vrentas, Sports Illustrated: Magnificent Seventh: How Brady’s Bucs Became Super Bowl Champions
3. Ben Shpigel, New York Times: Tom Brady’s 7th Super Bowl win ends N.F.L.’s most challenging year

2020 Winners (from post-Super Bowl LIII through Super Bowl LIV)

Bob Oates Beat Reporting
1. Zak Keefer, The Athletic
2. Zach Berman, The Athletic
3. Rob Demovsky, ESPN.com

Dave Anderson Column Writing
1. Ian O’Connor, ESPN.com: Cherry Starr will watch football without the love of her life
2. Greg Bishop, Sports Illustrated: Richard Sherman’s competitiveness proves the haters wrong
3. Chris Tomasson, St. Paul Pioneer Press: Micah Abernathy’s powerful family legacy

Bryan Burwell Feature Writing
1. Jason Wolf, Buffalo News: Ty Nsekhe’s untold journey from behind bars to the Bills
2. Zak Keefer, The Athletic: Four girls in need, a football family and the power of adoption
3. (tie) Tim Graham, The Athletic: Inside the homes of Harry Jacobs and Al Bemiller, Buffalo Bills living with dementia; Ian O’Connor, The Athletic: Two titles, 210 straight starts, one Eli

Lesley Visser Enterprise News/Features
1. Tim Graham, The Athletic: What can be done to bolster the pipeline of minority coaches on offense
2. Seth Wickersham and Michael Rothstein, ESPN.com: Inside the short, unhappy life of the Alliance of American Football
3. (tie) Greg Bishop, Sports Illustrated: Albert Haynesworth doesn’t need your love, just your kidney; John Kryk, Toronto Sun: Nearly all the elite, 21st century quarterbacks played shortstop

Will McDonough Breaking News
1. Chris Tomasson, St. Paul Pioneer Press: Vikings teammates saddened by shootings back home in El Paso, Dayton
2. John Kryk, Toronto Sun: Donald Trump never submitted a binding bid to buy the Bills
3. Dennis Waszak Jr., Associated Press: Jets fire general manager Mike Maccagnan

Dave Goldberg Game Story
1. Zach Berman, The Athletic: First playoff snaps for Carson Wentz and Josh McCown were significant for different reasons
2. Jenny Vrentas, Sports Illustrated: The Chiefs’ seven-year journey to a Super Bowl title
3. Aaron Reiss, The Athletic: The Texans’ collapse against the Chiefs

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