The New England Patriots public relations staff, lauded for overall professionalism with the reporters who cover the club, particularly in the challenging media access climate during the 2021 season, has been selected as the 2022 Pete Rozelle Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
The Patriots PR staff, the 33rd Rozelle Award winner, earned the award for the first time in franchise history.
The other 2022 nominees for the Rozelle Award were the Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions and the Washington Football Team.
The Rozelle Award is given to the NFL club public relations staff that consistently strives for excellence in its dealings and relationships with the media. The award is named for Rozelle, NFL commissioner from 1960-89, who started his distinguished career in sports PR roles as a student at both Compton (Calif.) Junior College and the University of San Francisco. After two more years as USF's assistant athletic director after graduation, he broke into the NFL as the PR director of the Los Angeles Rams from 1952-55. Rozelle used his PR principles as commissioner to build relationships with the media during a period of unprecedented growth and challenge for the league.
During the 2021 season, the Patriots football communications staff consisted of Stacey James (vice president of communications), Aaron Salkin (director of communications) and Stephanie Burnham (communications coordinator). The staff was also assisted by Michael Jurovaty (corporate communications director), Eric Adler (photo coordinator), Faith Worrell (summer intern), Chris McGean (seasonal intern) and Ronce Rajan (intern).
"Stacey James and his staff have been a tremendous aid to Patriots reporters for decades, but never more so than during one of the most trying seasons in NFL history. Their collective patience, professionalism and flexibility allowed one of the league's largest beats to continue providing around-the-clock coverage during a pandemic, most notably through the 857 Zoom calls they coordinated last year," said Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald. "Despite several internal and external challenges, there came a time reporters asked to curb the virtual access being provided late in the 2021 season. If that isn't proof of excellence in dealing with the media, I don't know what is."
ABOUT THE PFWA: In its 59th season in 2022, 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 daily. Lindsay Jones of The Athletic is the PFWA president for the 2021-22 seasons and the organization's 30th president. Jenny Vrentas of Sports Illustrated is the PFWA's first vice-president, Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News is the second vice-president and Mike Sando of The Athletic is the secretary-treasurer. At-large board members include Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post, USA Today's Mike Jones, ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold and ProFootballTalk.com's Charean Williams. Follow the PFWA at ProFootballWriters.org and on Twitter at @PFWAwriters.
PETE ROZELLE AWARD WINNERS (To the club public relations department that consistently strives for excellence in its dealings and relationships with the media) Year indicates when award was presented for previous season: 1990 – Denver Broncos; 1991 – Pittsburgh Steelers; 1992 – Seattle Seahawks; 1993 – Miami Dolphins; 1994 – Houston Oilers; 1995 – New York Giants; 1996 – Indianapolis Colts; 1997 – St. Louis Rams; 1998 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 1999 – Miami Dolphins; 2000 – Tennessee Titans; 2001 – New York Giants; 2002 – Philadelphia Eagles; 2003 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 2004 – Houston Texans; 2005 – Philadelphia Eagles; 2006 – Cincinnati Bengals; 2007 – Houston Texans; 2008 – Seattle Seahawks; 2009 – Arizona Cardinals; 2010 – Houston Texans; 2011 – Baltimore Ravens; 2012 – Houston Texans; 2013 – Baltimore Ravens; 2014 – Denver Broncos; 2015 – Pittsburgh Steelers; 2016 – Denver Broncos; 2017 – Baltimore Ravens & Houston Texans; 2018 – Minnesota Vikings; 2019 – Los Angeles Rams; 2020 – Indianapolis Colts; 2021 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 2022 – New England Patriots.