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Joe Horrigan wins PFWA award named for his father

June 6, 2019

Football historian Joe Horrigan, who retired on June 1 as executive director after 42 years on the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s staff, has been selected as the 2019 Jack Horrigan Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America.

Joe, son of the late Jack Horrigan, is the 47th award winner. He’s the second person who has worked for the Hall of Fame to receive the honor, joining Don Smith (1997).

The Jack Horrigan Award is given to the league or club official for qualities and professional style in helping the pro football writers do their job. The award is named for a sports writer 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).

Joe Horrigan was nominated for the award for his meticulous documentation of pro football history and making that history accessible to journalists during his tenure at the Hall of Fame.

“You can debate the greatest player in NFL history. Or the greatest quarterback. Or the greatest coach. But at one position there is no debate. There has been and will only be one gatekeeper to Canton. That’s Joe Horrigan,” said Rick Gosselin, the 2004 PFWA Dick McCann Award winner who is a member of the Hall’s selection committee. “He is to the game’s history what Jim Brown is to the game itself. There is no greater authority of his sport. When the game’s greatest players, coaches and owners enter the Hall of Fame, Joe has been there holding the door for them.”

Horrigan joined the hall on June 1, 1977 as a curator. He served in a variety of positions, including executive vice president of museums, selection process and chief communications officer before he became executive director in 2016.

Horrigan was intimately involved in the development and implementation of several major renovations and expansions of the museum. Under his guidance, the Hall of Fame expanded its outreach to include several nationally televised specials related to the annual enshrinee selection process and the enshrinement ceremony.

He has authored, co-authored and edited several books, including “NFL Century: The One-Hundred-Year Rise of America’s Greatest Sports League,” celebrating the NFL’s centennial and scheduled for publication in August. He is also the co-host of the weekly national radio show, “Pro Football Hall of Fame Radio,” on SiriusXM and is a regular contributor to NFL Films and NFL Network productions.

He has served on several NFL and team committees, including both the NFL’s 75th and 100th anniversary committees, and currently serves on the Black College Football Hall of Fame Advisory Board.

Other 2019 nominees for the Horrigan Award were Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard; Dallas Cowboys owner/president/general manager Jerry Jones; NFL Network communications manager Andrew Howard; and Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay.

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