Los Angeles honors long-time FWAA member Brad Pye Jr. for service to recreation commission

ffaw_redesignBrad Pye Jr., a sports journalist, broadcaster and long-time member of the Football Writers Association of America, was honored by the City of Los Angeles recently when it named the gymnasium at Saint Andrews Recreation Center after him in recognition of his many contributions to the Department of Recreation and Parks Boards Board of Commissioners.

Pye was the first African-American president of the L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks Board of Commissioners.

Councilmember Bernard C. Parks said Pye “had been on the forefront of dealing with youth activities and recreation and park facilities for decades.”

Click here to read the entire story by Cora Jackson-Fossett of the Los Angeles Sentinel.

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Pillars of the FWAA: Edwin Pope (1928-), Miami Herald

ffaw_redesignThe Football Writers Association of America is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015. Founded in 1941, the FWAA has served the writing profession and college football during a time when the world has changed greatly and the sport of football has along with it. In an effort to tell the stories of the members of the organization, we will publish each week a sketch on one of the FWAA’s  most important  leaders — all Bert McGrane Award winners.

The Bert McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization and/or the writing profession. It is named after McGrane, a Des Moines, Iowa, writer who was the executive secretary of the FWAA from the early 1940s until 1973. The McGrane Award was first bestowed on an FWAA member in 1974.

For a list of all the winners go to:  http://www.sportswriters.net/fwaa/awards/mcgrane/index.html.

The following is the 12th installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Edwin Pope was the 2001 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA member Gene Duffey for writing and researching this sketch.

By Gene Duffey

It seemed like a logical endeavor to 11-year-old Edwin Pope. Listening to the 1940 Orange Bowl game between Georgia Tech and Missouri, Pope decided to type every word that Ted Husing said on the radio, commercials included.

Pope had learned to type in first grade when he hung around his father’s cotton warehouse, practicing on a used typewriter that his father had bought for $10. “I don’t know where the $10 came from,” said Pope. “Those were tough times in the cotton business.”

Edwin Pope, 2001 winner of the Bert McGrane Award

Edwin Pope, 2001 winner of the Bert McGrane Award

The day after the game, Pope rode his bicycle to the Athens Banner-Herald and proudly delivered his typed out report. In those days newspapers often ran long stories of football games that amounted to little more than play-by-play accounts.

The people in the newsroom passed young Pope along from one person to another until he finally met the editor.

“This is not a running story,” the editor told Edwin. “This is a radio account. We can’t use this. But I want to get a little information on you.”

Instead of printing Pope’s story in the paper the next day, the paper ran a story about Pope. For more than half a century later that framed story hung on Pope’s wall.

The young boy had squeezed his foot through the door and into the newspaper business. The editor asked him to cover stories at the YMCA.

“We can’t offer you any money, but you’ll learn a lot,” said Pope. “He was right on both accounts.”

More…

Pillars of the FWAA: Maury White (1919-1999), Des Moines Register

ffaw_redesignThe Football Writers Association of America is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015. Founded in 1941, the FWAA has served the writing profession and college football during a time when the world has changed greatly and the sport of football has along with it. In an effort to tell the stories of the members of the organization, we will publish each week a sketch on one of the FWAA’s  most important  leaders — all Bert McGrane Award winners.

The Bert McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization and/or the writing profession. It is named after McGrane, a Des Moines, Iowa, writer who was the executive secretary of the FWAA from the early 1940s until 1973. The McGrane Award was first bestowed on an FWAA member in 1974.

For a list of all the winners go to:  http://www.sportswriters.net/fwaa/awards/mcgrane/index.html.

The following is the 11th installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Maury White was the 1980 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA member Gene Duffey for writing and researching this sketch.

 By Gene Duffey

Marc Hansen was a young columnist for the afternoon Des Moines Tribune. He and Maury White, the veteran columnist of the Des Moines Register, were friendly rivals, often riding together to college football games.

“They were like being in a seminar,” Hansen said of the drives to college campuses at locations such as Lincoln, Neb., or Champaign, Ill. “I learned how to be organized. (Maury) said the last thing you want to be doing on deadline is flipping through a bunch of papers. He was very professional in the way he went about his job.”

Maury White, 1980 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Maury White, 1980 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Hansen recalled one of those trips to Nebraska when the two columnists attended the Cornhuskers’ Friday afternoon practice. Coach Tom Osborne interrupted practice to come over and say hello to White. White introduced Osborne to Hansen, who was impressed by the respect that the Nebraska coach showed the veteran columnist.

“Maury was as fair as they came,” said Forest Evashevski, the successful Iowa football coach during White’s prime writing days. “He had great respect for the truth.”

Maury White was a very good writer. If you didn’t believe it, just ask him.

“He was almost as good as he said he was,” said a laughing Hansen, who teamed up with White when their papers merged in the early 1980s. “And he would be sure to let you know about it. Maury did not lack self-confidence. He thought he knew everything, and he pretty much did, and he told you that.”

White’s ego never made him aloof to his colleagues. “He couldn’t have been more helpful to me,” said Hansen.

White had covered most of the major sporting events, including the 1968 Olympics in Mexico and the 1976 Games in Montreal. But when the Olympics were staged in Los Angeles in 1984, Hansen received the assignment, not White.

“He could have taken that very badly,” said Hansen. “(But) he went out of his way to help me.”

Track was one of White’s favorite sports, along with college football and golf. He developed a close friendship with Bruce Jenner, who came out of Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa, to win the gold medal in the decathlon at Montreal. “The first time he came up to me, I felt like I was talking to a legend,” said Jenner.

The outstanding male athlete at the annual Drake Relays now receives the Maury White Award.

White was a good athlete himself. He played football in high school, scoring 128 points his senior year at Manilla High School in western Iowa. He went on to play at Drake.

He scored both touchdowns to help the Bulldogs upset Iowa State 14-13 in 1941. White took umbrage when a newspaper reported that he had caught the Cyclones “off guard” considering his outstanding high school career.

White served in the Navy during World War II, then joined the Register. The newspaper game was part of the family legacy. His father, grandfather and great grandfather had all worked in the business. Maury described himself as “an ink stained ragamuffin.” He became a columnist full time in 1965 and president of the FWAA in 1967.

Winning the Bert McGrane meant something special to White because McGrane had also worked at the Register.

He gained respect wherever he went.

“I never saw a better interviewer than Maury White,” said Joe McGuff, former sports editor and columnist at the Kansas City Star.  “He always asked all the right questions as well as questions no one else would think of asking.”

White usually managed to find a different angle for his columns. “He did not write what everyone else was writing,” said Hansen. “He looked for the story within the story, that little nugget that nobody else had. He took pride in writing what nobody else was writing.”

White wrote for the Register for 41 years before retiring in January 1988.

“He had opportunities to go elsewhere,” said Hansen, who is now retired. “There was no other paper as far as he was concerned. He could have written for any section in the paper. He knew what was going on beyond the outfield walls.”

One year at the Rose Bowl, White thought another writer was taking far too long to finish his game story. To make a point, White set the guy’s copy on fire. When a security guard hurried over to investigate, White confronted him: “Don’t you know who I am?”

That was Maury White.

FWAA announces watch list for 2015 Bronko Nagurski Trophy

ffaw_redesignList updated on Sept. 29, 2015

Scooby Wright III, the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner, tops the 92-man 2015 Bronko Nagurski Watch List announced by the Football Writers Association of America.

Wright, a junior linebacker from Arizona, will seek to become only the second player in the 22-year history of the award to win it twice after Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald in 1995-96.

Ohio State end Joey Bosa, another first team FWAA All-America from 2014, also returns as a junior to challenge Wright.

There are five FWAA second-teamer All-Americas from a year ago on the 2015 Watch List:   Michigan State end Shilique Calhoun, and defensive backs Kendall Fuller of Virginia Tech, Jeremy Cash of Duke, Jalen Ramsey of Florida State and Michael Caputo of Wisconsin .

Bronko Nagurski Trophy

Bronko Nagurski Trophy

Players may be added or removed from the watch list during the course of the season. Once again, the FWAA will announce a Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week each Tuesday from early September through mid November. If not already on the watch list, the honored player will be added at that time. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2015 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 19.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from those five finalists who are part of the 2014 FWAA All-America Team. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s entire membership, selects the 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Nagurski finalists. Committee members, then by individual ballot, select the winner, the best defensive player in college football during the FWAA’s 75th anniversary year.

The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet, presented by ACN, will be on Dec. 7 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte. In addition to the 2015 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner’s announcement, the banquet will also celebrate the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by the CTC and Florida East Coast Railway. Ohio State’s Randy Gradishar, a member of the FWAA’s 1973 All-America team and a College Football Hall of Famer, will be honored. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn will be the keynote speaker at the banquet.

The FWAA has named a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. In 1995, the FWAA named the award in honor of the legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota. Nagurski dominated college football then became a star for professional football’s Chicago Bears in the 1930s. Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski is a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

2015 NAGURSKI WATCHLIST

TACKLES

Andrew Billings, Baylor

Kenny Clark, UCLA

Maliek Collins, Nebraska

Sheldon Day, Notre Dame

Adam Gotsis, Georgia Tech

Chris Jones, Mississippi State

Gerrand Johnson, Louisiana-Monroe

Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech

Corey Marshall, Virginia Tech

Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss

A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama

Travis Tuiloma, BYU

Adolphus Washington, Ohio State

Anthony Zettel, Penn State

ENDS

Jonathan Allen, Alabama

Derek Barnett, Tennessee

Joey Bosa, Ohio State

DeForest Buckner, Oregon

Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State

Kamalei Correa, Boise State

Ken Ekanem, Virginia Tech

Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

Jordan Jenkins, Georgia

Bronson Kaufusi, BYU

Carl Lawson Auburn

Shawn Oakman, Baylor

Pat O’Connor, Eastern Michigan

Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State

Drew Ott, Iowa

Dale Pierson, Iowa State

Dadi Nicolas, Virginia Tech

Sheldon Rankins, Louisville

Pete Robertson, Texas Tech

Ian Seau, Nevada

Charles Tapper, Oklahoma

Lawrence Thomas, Michigan State

LINEBACKERS

Dominique Alexander, Oklahoma

Kendell Beckwith, LSU

Vince Biegel, Wisconsin

Kentrell Brothers, Missouri

Riley Bullough, Michigan State

James Burgess, Louisville

Su’a Cravens, USC

Kyler Fackrell, Utah State

Leonard Floyd, Georgia

Darron Lee, Ohio State

Curt Maggitt, Tennessee

Blake Martinez, Stanford

Tyler Matakevich, Temple

Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn

Antonio Morrison, Florida

Jared Norris, Utah

Joshua Perry, Ohio State

Reggie Ragland, Alabama

Jovan Santos-Knox, UMass

Joe Schmidt, Notre Dame

Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame

Terrance Smith, Florida State

Eric Striker, Oklahoma

Jeremy Timpf, Army

Anthony Walker, Northwestern

Scooby Wright III, Arizona

BACKS

Budda Baker, Washington

Dante Barnett, Kansas State

Vonn Bell, Ohio State

Quin Blanding, Virginia

Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Minnesota

Maurice Canady, Virginia

Michael Caputo, Wisconsin

Lloyd Carrington, Arizona State

Jeremy Cash, Duke

Tony Conner, Mississippi

Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech

Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida

Adoree’ Jackson, USC

William Jackson, Houston

Jonathan Jones, Auburn

Karl Joseph, West Virginia

William Likely, Maryland

Jordan Lucas, Penn State

Danzel McDaniel, Kansas State

Adrian McDonald, Houston

Jalen Mills, LSU

Fabian Moreau, UCLA

Eric Murray. Minnesota

Kai Nacua, BYU

Jalen Ramsey, Florida State

Will Redmond, Mississippi State

KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame

Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma

Jordan Simone, Arizona State

Darian Thompson, Boise State

RJ Williamson, Michigan State

Xavier Woods, Louisiana Tech

Ronald Zamort, Western Michigan

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in its 75th year of existence, consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

The Charlotte Touchdown Club was founded in 1991 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, N.C., region. The club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship, and leadership of area athletes and coaches. For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or jrocco@touchdownclub.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is touchdownclub.com.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. The 22 awards boast more than 700 years of tradition-selection excellence. Visit http://www.NCFAA.org to learn more about our story.

Beginning in 2015, The Home Depot College Football Awards will have a new home at the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience in downtown Atlanta. Airing live on ESPN on December 10, 2015, college football’s brightest stars will be honored for their performance on and off the field. The members of the NCFAA are unveiling their preseason watch lists over a 11-day period this month. Sixteen of the association’s 22 awards select a preseason watch list and the NCFAA has spearheaded a coordinated effort to promote each award’s preseason candidates. Following is the complete 2015 preseason watch list calendar:

Tues., July 7: Bednarik Award / Maxwell Award

Wed., July 8:   Mackey Award / Rimington Trophy

Thurs., July 9: Lou Groza Award / Ray Guy Award

Fri., July 10: Bronko Nagurski Trophy / Outland Trophy

Mon., July 13: Jim Thorpe Award

Tues., July 14: Butkus Award / Rotary Lombardi Award

Wed., July 15: Biletnikoff Award / Wuerffel Trophy

Thurs, July 16: Davey O’Brien Award / Doak Walker Award

Fri., July 17: Walter Camp Award

2015 Outland Trophy watch list announced

ffaw_redesignDALLAS — The Southeastern Conference led all conferences with 16 players on the 84-man Outland Trophy Watch List released by the Football Writers Association of America. The so-called FBS “Power Conferences” accounted for 61 of the players on the annual list.

Following the SEC, the Pac-12 checked in with 14 players, the Big Ten with 12, the Big 12 with 11 and the ACC with eight.   All 10 FBS Conferences are represented on the list as were five players combined from independents Notre Dame and BYU. There is one returning interior lineman from the FWAA’s 2014 All-America team, Baylor’s senior offensive tackle Spencer Drango.

The Outland Trophy

The Outland Trophy

The Outland Trophy winner is chosen from three finalists who are a part of the FWAA All-America Team. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the entire membership, selects the 26-man first team and eventually the three Outland finalists. Committee members, then by individual ballot, select the winner. Only interior linemen on offense or defense are eligible for the award; ends are not eligible.

The list will be trimmed to six or seven semifinalists on Nov. 19. Five days later three Outland Trophy finalists will be named by the FWAA. The winner of the 70th Outland Trophy, named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at Penn at the turn of the 20th century, will be announced on ESPN on The Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 10 for the first time from the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

The Outland Trophy presentation banquet, sponsored by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee, will be held on Jan. 14, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. This year, Maryland’s Randy White, the 1975 Outland Trophy winner, will be honored and presented an Outland Trophy, which was not given in the era in which he won the award.

2015 OUTLAND TROPHY WATCH LIST

CENTERS (17)

Jack Allen, Michigan State

Austin Blythe, Iowa

Evan Boehm, Missouri

J.T. Boyd, East Carolina

Jake Brendel, UCLA

Ty Darlington, Oklahoma

Marcus Henry, Boise State

Joey Hunt, TCU

Nick Kelly, Arizona State

Ryan Kelly, Alabama

Nick Martin, Notre Dame

Andrew Ness, Northern Illinois

Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia

Matt Skura, Duke

Matt Sparks, UMass

Max Tuerk, USC

Dan Voltz, Wisconsin

OFFENSIVE GUARDS (16)

Vadal Alexander, LSU

Chris Borrayo, California

Parker Ehinger, Cincinnati

Pat Elflein, Ohio State

Dan Feeney, Indiana

Joshua Garnett, Stanford

Alex Kozan, Auburn

Jimmy Kristof, Western Michigan

Greg Pyke, Georgia

Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State

Andrew Reue, Rice

Chris Taylor, Tulane

Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech

Spencer Tretola, Arkansas

Landon Turner, North Carolina

Christian Westerman, Arizona State

OFFENSIVE TACKLES (26)

Adrian Bellard, Texas State

Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech

Jack Conklin, Michigan State

Austin Corbett, Nevada

Joe Dahl, Washington State

Taylor Decker, Ohio State

Spencer Drango, Baylor

Ike Harris, East Carolina

Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M

Roderick Johnson, Florida State

Tyler Johnstone, Oregon

Denver Kirkland, Arkansas

Keith Lumpkin, Rutgers

Cam Robinson, Alabama

Ryker Mathews, BYU

Kyle Murphy, Stanford

Rees Odhiambo, Boise State

Brandon Shell, South Carolina

Garrett Stafford, Tulsa

Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame

Freddie Tagaloa, Arizona

Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss

Halapoulivaati Vaitai, TCU

Clint Van Horn, Marshall

Cody Whitehair, Kansas State

Avery Young, Auburn

DEFENSIVE TACKLES (25)

Andrew Billings, Baylor

Beau Blackshear, Baylor

Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech

Kenny Clark, UCLA

Maliek Collins, Nebraska

Sheldon Day, Notre Dame

Adam Gotsis, Georgia Tech

Darius Hamilton, Rutgers

Chris Jones, Mississippi State

Gerrand Johnson, Louisiana-Monroe

Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech

Corey Marshall, Virginia Tech

Thomas Niles, Central Florida

Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss

Joe Ostman, Central Michigan

Davion Pierson, TCU

Jarran Reed, Alabama

Hassan Ridgeway, Texas

A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama

Travis Tuiloma, BYU

Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA

Adolphus Washington, Ohio State

Antwaun Woods, USC

Connor Wujciak, Boston College

Anthony Zettel, Penn State

By conference (84): SEC (16), Pac-12 (14), Big Ten (12), Big 12 (11), ACC (8), American (6), Independents (5), Mid-American (4), Mountain West (3), C-USA (3) and Sun Belt (2).

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tigerfwaa@gmail.com.

The Outland Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. The 22 awards boast more than 700 years of tradition-selection excellence. Visit http://www.NCFAA.org to learn more about our story.

Beginning in 2015, The Home Depot College Football Awards will have a new home at the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience in downtown Atlanta. Airing live on ESPN on December 10, 2015, college football’s brightest stars will be honored for their performance on and off the field. The members of the NCFAA are unveiling their preseason watch lists over an 11-day period this month. Sixteen of the association’s 22 awards select a preseason watch list and the NCFAA has spearheaded a coordinated effort to promote each award’s preseason candidates. Following is the complete 2015 preseason watch list calendar:

Tues., July 7: Bednarik Award / Maxwell Award

Wed., July 8: Mackey Award / Rimington Trophy

Thurs., July 9: Lou Groza Award / Ray Guy Award

Fri., July 10: Bronko Nagurski Trophy / Outland Trophy

Mon., July 13: Jim Thorpe Award

Tues., July 14: Butkus Award / Rotary Lombardi Award

Wed., July 15: Biletnikoff Award / Wuerffel Trophy

Thurs, July 16: Davey O’Brien Award / Doak Walker Award

Fri., July 17: Walter Camp Award

 

Pillars of the FWAA: Tom Siler (1909-88), Knoxville News-Sentinel

ffaw_redesignThe Football Writers Association of America is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015. Founded in 1941, the FWAA has served the writing profession and college football during a time when the world has changed greatly and the sport of football has along with it. In an effort to tell the stories of the members of the organization, we will publish each week a sketch on one of the FWAA’s  most important  leaders — all Bert McGrane Award winners.

The Bert McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization and/or the writing profession. It is named after McGrane, a Des Moines, Iowa, writer who was the executive secretary of the FWAA from the early 1940s until 1973. The McGrane Award was first bestowed on an FWAA member in 1974.

For a list of all the winners go to:  http://www.sportswriters.net/fwaa/awards/mcgrane/index.html.

The following is the 10th installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Tom Siler was the 1979 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA member Gene Duffey for writing and researching this sketch.

By Gene Duffey

Tom Siler probably liked Jack Webb on the old “Dragnet” television show. Webb’s trademark line “Just the facts, Mam. Nothing but the facts.” personified the low-key way Siler approached his newspaper reporting.

Tom Siler, 1979 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Tom Siler, 1979 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

“He wrote in plain English,” said Marvin West, who worked for Siler for 20 years and succeeded him as sports editor at the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “By today’s standards, he was rather a vanilla writer. He was an excellent reporter and good interviewer. He got the story told very nicely.”

“He was organized,” said Roland Julian, another veteran of the News-Sentinel sports department. “He made sure he had his facts right. Tom was always objective. Some people didn’t like it when he criticized the University of Tennessee, but sometimes it was needed.”

“He wasn’t a cheerleader,” said West. “He was a patient teacher.”

In those days sports editors would run the department as well as write columns. Siler knew how to get along with people.

“He delegated and let you do (your job),” said West. “He would have been a great editor of the newspaper. He had a great feel for news and how to deal with people. He could talk to bank presidents or the guy who swept the field. He could go with kings or commoners.”

Siler had a knack for being there when momentous events occurred in the sports world.

He covered Don Larsen’s perfect game for the New York Yankees in the World Series. He was there for Hank Aaron’s record 715th home run. He interviewed New York Yankees star Lou Gehrig changing trains in Chicago after returning from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

More…

Pillars of the FWAA: Paul Zimmerman (1903-96), Los Angeles Times 1

ffaw_redesign

The Football Writers Association of America is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015. Founded in 1941, the FWAA has served the writing profession and college football during a time when the world has changed greatly and the sport of football has along with it. In an effort to tell the stories of the members of the organization, we will, over the next few months, publish each week a sketch on one of the FWAA’s  most important  leaders — all Bert McGrane Award winners.

The Bert McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization and/or the writing profession. It is named after McGrane, a Des Moines, Iowa, writer who was the executive secretary of the FWAA from the early 1940s until 1973. The McGrane Award was first bestowed on an FWAA member in 1974.

For a list of all the winners go to:   http://www.sportswriters.net/fwaa/awards/mcgrane/index.html.

The following is the ninth installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Paul Zimmerman was the 1976 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA member Gene Duffey for writing and researching this sketch.

By Gene Duffey

There are no official records of the press corps from the 1932 Olympic Games, but Paul Zimmerman is believed to be the only man to cover both the ’32 Olympics and the 1984 Games, both held in Los Angeles.

Zimmerman covered the 1932 Games for the Associated Press before joining the Los Angeles Times. He became sports editor of the Times in 1939 and held that position until he retired in 1968.

Even though he was retired and in his 80s, Zimmerman wrote several stories for the Times special section previewing the 1984 Olympics and covered the Games for a Japanese newspaper.

Zimmerman covered six other Summer Olympics from 1948 to ’68 and also the 1960 Winter Games, held in Squaw Valley, Calif.

He was best known for his coverage of college football, particularly in the days before all the pro teams began arriving in Los Angeles.

Paul Zimmerman, 1986 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Paul Zimmerman, 1986 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Zimmerman played a part in that, too, particularly with the Dodgers moving from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958. He received a commendation from the city for helping bringing Walter O’Malley’s baseball team west.

USC opened the 1966 football season at Texas. The Longhorns were led by a heralded sophomore quarterback (when freshmen were not eligible for the varsity) named Bill Bradley. Zimmerman made it to Austin the Thursday before the game to write previews.

Bradley turned out to be a better punter than a quarterback. USC won 10-6 and Bradley ended up playing defensive back before his college career ended. Zimmerman was so well connected that he attended a buffet at Texas coach Darrell Royal’s house after the game.

Zimmerman covered most of the big events in the Los Angeles area for several decades. He wrote about Seabiscut’s win in the Big Cap Race at Santa Anita in 1940. He covered the first Super Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs, played at The Coliseum in 1967, before it was even known as the Super Bowl.

He died Jan. 28, 1996, the day they played Super Bowl XXX.

Zimmerman, who won the Bert McGrane Award in 1976, showed his true talents as a sports editor with everything that went on behind the scenes at the Times.

“Paul was noted for his editing,” said Furman Bisher, a contemporary of Zimmerman’s and the 1982 Bert McGrane winner. “Writing wasn’t one of his leading qualities, but organizing and producing a sports section was. He’d make these present day sports sections look like wrapping paper, which most are.”

“The writing was the part I liked,” Zimmerman once said.

He was a 1927 graduate of the University of Nebraska before heading for Los Angeles.

“Zimmerman typified the old-time sports writer and editor who emphasized the nuts and bolts of a sports section and was straightforward in his writing style,” said Murray Olderman, the 1991 McGrane winner. “There was still a lot of Nebraska in him in his approach to sports.”

He gained the respect of others in the business. Pete Rozelle was once publicity director of the Los Angeles Rams, beginning in 1952, and   became commissioner of the NFL in 1960.

“I wanted to take his job away someday,” said a young Rozelle, who worked weekends at the Long Beach Press-Telegram while in high school in Compton, Calif.

Zimmerman also served as Director of Charities for the Times and as a director for the Helms Foundation Hall of Fame, which began in Los Angeles in 1936.

He was no relation to the Paul Zimmerman who wrote for the New York Post and Sports Illustrated.

Paul Bechler Zimmerman watched Los Angeles grow into a major metropolis. The city is home to two NBA teams and at one time hosted two NFL franchises when the Oakland Raiders moved there in 1982 to join the Rams.

But the Rams left for St. Louis in 1995 and the Raiders returned to Oakland the same year. USC and UCLA took over the town, at least in terms of football. Zimmerman probably would have liked it that way.

“He was particularly fond of college football,” said Olderman.

Zimmerman was named to the National Football Foundation Honors Court in 1951. He was named winner of the Jake Wade Award (CoSIDA), given to a media person who has made an outstanding contribution to intercollegiate athletics, in 1968. The first winner of the Jake Wade Award, in 1958, was Bert McGrane.