2020s Dick Connor Writing Awards

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

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 loses his parents six minutes apart to COVID-19
2. Mike Sielski, Philadelphia Inquirer: The forgotten story of former Dallas Cowboy Richmond Flowers and his brave stand for America
3. (tie) Ian O’Connor, ESPN.com: The ‘dreadful example’ of Tom Brady working out with Tampa Bay teammates in defiance of medical recommendations; 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 lasting friendship of Alex Smith and a soldier with a nearly identical leg injury
2. Tim Graham, The Athletic: Stevie Johnson, the drop, the tweet and the box kept sealed for years
3. (tie) Jenny Vrentas, Sports Illustrated: Lamar Jackson, Quarterback, Redefined; Dan Pompei, The Athletic: How the grief of former Texans general manager Rick Smith reshaped his life

Lesley Visser Enterprise News/Features
1. Kalyn Kahler, Sports Illustrated: The theological evolution of former Green Bay Packer Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila
2. Jenny Vrentas, Sports Illustrated: The extensive help provided by the New Orleans Saints to the local Catholic archdiocese after revelations of sexual abuse
3. (tie) Tim Graham, The Athletic: Descriptions of a ‘toxic culture’ at Pegula Sports and Entertainment, owners of the Buffalo Bills; 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: Removal of the statue of Carolina Panthers founder Jerry Richardson
2. Chris Tomasson, St. Paul Pioneer Press: Minnesota Vikings decide to practice following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.
3. Dennis Waszak Jr., Associated Press: The debut of New York Jets coach Robert Saleh coincides with the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks

Dave Goldberg Game Story
1. Kevin Fishbain, The Athletic: How the Bears came back and won a ridiculous game in Atlanta
2. Greg Bishop and Jenny Vrentas, Sports Illustrated: How Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers 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