ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Twenty-four years after Jim Saccomano and his staff won the inaugural Pete Rozelle Award, the Denver Broncos have taken home the honor again.
The Pro Football Writers of America's Pete Rozelle Award is given to the public relations staff that consistently strives for excellence in its dealings and relationships with the media.
For the 2014 honor, the Broncos fit that bill.
Led by Executive Director of Media Relations Patrick Smyth, the Broncos' staff includes Media Relations Manager Erich Schubert and Media Services Manager Rebecca Villanueva. Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Saccomano retired at the end of the 2013 campaign. Last season's PR interns were Christian Edwards and Liz Mannis.
"While the Denver Broncos media relations staff has been honored for its work in 2013, you would be hard-pressed to find any staff in the league through the years that has dealt with as many parts of the job's spectrum as the Broncos' has," said Jeff Legwold, the PFWA's second vice president who covers the Broncos for ESPN.com. "From the team's anguish following cornerback Darrent Williams' murder to the world-wide phenomenon that was Tim Tebow's tenure in Denver to the hysteria of Peyton Manning and the Super Bowl trip in 2013. There was Mike Shanahan's firing, Josh McDaniels' firing, Spygate II, John Elway's return to the team and all of the games in between. Through it all, including the retirement of the Broncos' long-time media relations director, Jim Saccomano, the Broncos' staff has done its best to assist those who have tried to chronicle the events. And they've done it with high-level professionalism as well as a roll-up-the-sleeves work ethic from Patrick Smyth, Rebecca Villanueva and Erich Schubert along with a group of aspiring, hard-working interns, including many who dot other staffs around the league."
The award is named for Rozelle, NFL commissioner from 1960 to 1989. He started his 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, he broke into the NFL as the PR director of the Los Angeles Rams in 1952.
Rozelle used his PR principles as commissioner to build relationships with the media during a period of unprecedented growth and challenge for the league.