Saturday, May 27, 2023

PFWA's Distinguished Service Award—1968-76

By John Turney 

Prior to when the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) began choosing NFL Most Valuable Players the New York Chapter of the PFWA had been doing it for a decade. It was in 1975 when the PFWA began choosing MVPs but the New York Chapter started voting for them in 1965. They also had additional awards they added.

One of them was added in 1968, the year of the first annual dinner, was the Arthur Daley Distinguished Service Award for "long and meritorious service to football", named to honor Arthur Daley, the noted longtime New York Times writer.

In 1975 it was renamed the Arthur Daley Memorial Award after Daley's passing the previous year. It only lasted a year after that.

The origin of the award is not known but it probably stemmed from the New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers of America who had been giving a similar award since 1930 then called the William J. Slocum Award. Now called William J. Slocum-Jack Lang Award.

The dinner took place at some of the fancier hotels in Manhattan like the Waldorf Astoria or Hotel Americana, usually in late Spring or early Summer and was purported to be an event that featured guest speakers, presenters and special guests including NFL players and coaches, and of course, ticket-purchasing members of the public. 

Here is the list of winners—

NY Chapter of PFWA  Distinguished Service Award Winners
The Arthur Daley Memorial Award
1968—George Halas, coach and owner, Chicago Bears
1969—Art Rooney, owner, Pittsburgh Pirates/Steelers
1970—Dan Reeves, owner, Cleveland and Los Angeles Rams
1971—Paul Brown, coach and owner, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals
1972—Lamar Hunt, owner, Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs
1973—Don Shula, NFL player, three teams, and coach, Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins
1974—Weeb Ewbank, coach, Baltimore Colts and New York Jets
1975—Carroll Rosenbloom, owner Baltimore Colts and Los Angeles Rams
1976—Art Modell, owner, Cleveland Browns


  1. I see Modell on the list presumably because of his MNF work? The fact that he fired the 2 best coaches in history, couldn't turn a profit as an NFL owner(!!!) and eventually stole the Browns from the most rabid fan base in the country would make him one of the worst owners in American sports history. But that was not fully apparent in 1976

    1. from jimhgym: “fired the 2 best coaches in NFL history”…(and stole the Browns from Cleveland)….100%!!!
      an awful owner

  2. BW ...

    Strange awards, with Rooney, Ewbank and Modell going through bad seasons when they got those awards, though Brian Sipe would give the Browns a winning record in 1976. Other than hire Chuck Knox and add past color to the Rams uniforms, I dont see what Rosenbloom did to deserve an award in 74-75?

    1. Distinguished Service Award Winner was a more like a lifetime achievement award, they just gave one per year. Had nothing to do with the current season.

      That is why the all the teams they owned were listed and if they had more than one title... i.e. "Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals" rather than the team he owned that year...same for Rosenbloom.