The Denver Broncos public relations staff has been selected as the 2016 Pete Rozelle Award winners by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
The Broncos, the 27th Rozelle Award winners, earned the award for the third time in club history and the second time in three seasons. Denver's PR staff were selected for the inaugural award in 1990 and again in 2014.
Other 2016 nominees for the Rozelle Award were the Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants.
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.
Denver's PR department is led by Patrick Smyth (VP of public relations), assisted by Erich Schubert (senior manager of media relations), Seth Medvin (media relations coordinator) and Rebecca Villaneuva (corporate communications manager). The department was also assisted by interns Brock Anderson and Anne Noland.
The department navigated a season that saw the introduction of Head Coach Gary Kubiak, a high profile quarterback situation and the retirement of the NFL's only five-time MVP Peyton Manning. The public relations staff also worked more nationally televised games than any other team in the league en route to a Super Bowl victory.
"The fact the Broncos' media relations staff has now been honored by the PFWA membership twice in the last three seasons, each time following a Super Bowl run, shows how the Broncos have done in trying to assist those who have chronicled the events surrounding the team," said Jeff Legwold, who covers the Broncos for ESPN.com. "Uncommon success on the field has not deterred the Broncos handling the day-to-day requests from both national and local media with a high level of professionalism as well as a common sense approach that allowed all involved, on both sides of the interviews, to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. The Broncos consistently made the team's players, coaches and other decision-makers available well beyond what is outlined in the league's media policy as a high-interest team with a substantial media corps during a championship run."
Kubiak's openness and cooperation with the media was essential to a successful relationhip between the public relations team and news outlets. On four separate occasions, the team under Kubiak's direction has won the award. The Houston Texans won the honor three times while Kubiak was head coach.