Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who has been consistently available to local and national media during the process of helping to lead the franchise into the playoffs three times in four seasons, has been selected as the 2012 Jack Horrigan Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
“It is a tremendous honor to receive this award,” Dimitroff said. “When I was first hired here in 2008, one of the things that our Owner & Chairman Arthur Blank impressed upon me and Coach Smith was to build an open and mutually respective relationship with the media. I have to thank him for his guidance and direction as I have continued to learn how to manage the media responsibilities that go along with being a general manager. I am humbled by this award, but it is a true testament of Mr. Blank’s vision for our organization and his approach.”
Dimitroff, the 39th Horrigan Award winner, is the first NFL general manager since 2006 and the third member of the Falcons franchise to receive the honor from the PFWA. Atlanta now has two Horrigan Award winners on staff as current Falcons President & CEO Rich McKay earned the award in 2005 when he was the club’s GM.
The Horrigan Award is given to the league or club official for his or her qualities and professional style in helping the pro football writers do their job. The award is named for Horrigan, who was a sportswriter for UPI and the Buffalo Evening News, public relations director for the American Football League (1963-66) and vice president of public relations for the Buffalo Bills (1966-73).
Since Dimitroff’s appointment as GM in 2008, the Falcons have qualified for the NFC playoffs three times (2008, 2010, 2011) and Atlanta is the only NFC club to have a winning record in each of the last four seasons. During his time in Atlanta, Dimitroff has discussed a variety of subjects, offering insightful opinions to media members, especially during busy and sometimes difficult times.
“Thomas has been very accommodating to the media, both locally and nationally,” said PFWA First Vice-President D. Orlando Ledbetter, who covers the Falcons for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It is not surprise that the PFWA members have chosen to recognize his efforts. He made himself available to local and national members before the Julio Jones trade was announced to explain the team’s rationale. Once the lockout was over, he provided access through the frenzied start of training camp and the free-agency period to our members. This accessibility continued throughout the season and into the playoffs.”
ABOUT THE PFWA: 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 on a daily basis. The Buffalo News’ Mark Gaughan, who covers the Buffalo Bills, is the organization’s president for 2011-13. The Denver Post’s Jeff Legwold, who covers the Denver Broncos, is the second vice president for 2011-13. Follow the PFWA on Twitter at @PFWAwriters.
JACK HORRIGAN AWARD WINNERS (To the league or club official for his or her qualities and professional style in helping the pro football writers do their job): 1974 – John Breen (Houston Oilers); 1975 – O.J. Simpson (Buffalo Bills); 1976 – Floyd Little (Denver Broncos); 1977 – Jerry Wynn (San Diego Chargers); 1978 – Bob Peck (Denver Broncos); 1979 – John Madden (Oakland Raiders); 1980 – Bum Phillips (Houston Oilers); 1981 – Bob Sprenger (Kansas City Chiefs); 1982 – Joe Gordon (Pittsburgh Steelers); 1983 – Archie Manning (New Orleans Saints); 1984 – Art Rooney (Pittsburgh Steelers); 1985 – Joe Browne (NFL); 1986 – Dick Steinberg (New England Patriots); 1987 – Charlie Dayton (Atlanta Falcons); 1988 – Art Modell (Cleveland Browns); 1989 – Tom Landry (Dallas Cowboys); 1990 – George Young (New York Giants); 1991 – Jim Finks (New Orleans Saints); 1992 – John Robinson (Los Angeles Rams); 1993 – Warren Moon (Houston Oilers); 1994 – Don Shula (Miami Dolphins); 1995 – Leslie Hammond (NFL); 1996 – Ron Wolf (Green Bay Packers); 1997 – Don Smith (Pro Football Hall of Fame); 1998 – Tony Dungy (Tampa Bay Buccaneers); 1999 – Greg Aiello (NFL); 2000 – Ernie Accorsi (New York Giants); 2001 – Jeff Fisher (Tennessee Titans); 2002 – Charley Casserly (Houston Texans); 2003 – Herman Edwards (New York Jets); 2004 – Ozzie Newsome (Baltimore Ravens); 2005 – Rich McKay (Atlanta Falcons); 2006 – Floyd Reese (Tennessee Titans); 2007 – Steve Alic (NFL); 2008 – Mike Holmgren (Seattle Seahawks); 2009 – Dan Rooney (Pittsburgh Steelers); 2010 – Gil Brandt (NFL.com); 2011 – Rex Ryan (New York Jets); 2012 – Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons).
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog