The Pro Football HOF on Thursday night hosted its inaugural Awards of Excellence, and one of the groups honored was a crop of longtime league and team PR execs: JOE BROWNE, CHARLIE DAYTON, JOE GORDON, JIM SACCOMANO and GARY WRIGHT. Serving as emcee, Pro Football HOFer DAN FOUTS described the group as the "storytellers and protectors of the message of the NFL." In presenting Browne’s award, Fouts also noted Browne was the league office’s “longest-serving NFL employee,” having worked for commissioners PETE ROZELLE, PAUL TAGLIABUE and now ROGER GOODELL. Browne: “I’m not going to grade them. … I started as a teenage intern for Pete Rozelle, and worked for him for 25 years. And I’ve often said, it’s not a coincidence his initials were PR. … It was such a great learning experience.” Browne, on Tagliabue: “No disrespect to anyone in this room, but Paul would be the smartest person in the room, and not because he would say it, but because it was true.” Other highlights from the brief acceptance speeches:
- Dayton, who worked for the Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers and in Washington, on how he was named to the All-Madden team: “I was with the Washington Redskins, and we were running a drill where it’s a crossing pattern, and the owner happened to be walking along the sidelines. … The receiver was getting ready to crash into the owner. So I stepped in front of the receiver, took the hit, and the owner stayed upright.”
- Longtime Steelers exec Gordon: “It was very easy to be popular if you were with a team that won four Super Bowls in six years. … The greatest honor I ever had was working for the Steelers for 29 years.”
- Broncos stalwart Saccomano, on the recent changes at the team, including ROB WALTON coming in as owner: “The future is very bright. New head coach, new ownership. Everybody shop at Wal-mart when you get home tonight.”
- Wright spent 38 years at the Seahawks, but was unable to attend. Saccomano: “He is maybe my dearest friend in the business. … I would say Gary is the best PR guy I ever knew. Gary was about service, about helping others. When we talk about it being a game of people and passion, Gary has both of those to the ultimate degree” (PRO FOOTBALL HOF, 6/30).
|PRO FOOTBALL HOF AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE WINNERS
||Dan "Chief" Simmons