Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski has been named 2020 NFL Coach of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America, the organization announced Thursday.
Stefanski led the Browns to an 11-5 record and their first playoff win since 1994 in his first season as a head coach. He is just the second Browns head coach to win the award in franchise history, joining Marty Schottenheimer in 1986.
A loaded Browns offensive reached its full potential under the play calling and tutelage of Stefanski, finishing as the league’s third-best rushing team and committing the fourth-fewest turnovers.
Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield also took a leap forward in 2020 under Stefanski, passing for 26 touchdowns and a career-low eight interceptions. Mayfield’s 95.9 passer rating was also the best of his young career.
The Buffalo Bills also earned a pair of honors for their outstanding 2020 performance. General manager Brandon Beane was named PFWA NFL Executive of the Year, while offensive coordinator was awarded Assistant Coach of the Year.
The Bills owned the NFL’s second-ranked offense, as quarterback Josh Allen became a bonafide MVP candidate under Daboll. Allen completed a career-high 69.2% of his passes, while also tossing 37 touchdowns, seven more than through his first two seasons combined.
Beane was the mastermind behind Buffalo’s addition of wide receiver Stefon Diggs form the Minnesota Vikings, who proved one of the most successful trade acquisitions in recent memory. Diggs was named a First-Team All-Pro after leading the league with 127 receptions and 1,535 yards. He also caught eight touchdowns.
Federal Judge Orders NFL, Class Counsel to Address Racial Concerns Brought by former Steelers in Concussion Settlement
The federal judge who overseas the NFL’s concussion settlement program is sending class counsel Seeger Weiss and the league back to negotiations resolve to the racial concerns in the raised by former players.
Judge Anita Brody of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia dismissed a lawsuit filed by former Steelers Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport, telling the two sides to “address the concerns relating to the race-norming issue.”
Henry and Davenport have accused the league of discriminating against Black players who have filed dementia-related claims. The lawsuit alleged that the NFL used separate criteria for judging mental degradation in black and white athletes, making it more likely for white players to receive benefits.
Brody dismissed their lawsuit as “an improper attack on the Settlement Agreement,” but added that “the Court, however, remains concerned” about the reservations they raised. The NFL and Weiss will now appear before Magistrate Judge David Strawbridge to reach a new agreement on the concerns.
Davenport, played with the Steelers from 2006-08 and also spent time with the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts in a seven-year NFL career. Henry spent eight seasons in Pittsburgh from 1993-2000 after being drafted in the fourth round out of Mississippi State and played in Super Bowl XXX with the team.
The NFL originally settled with its former players in 2013 and agreed to pay out over $750 million to players that suffer neurological conditions from playing professional football. The settlement has been regarded as controversial overall, and there have been several attempts from players to re-litigate portions of it.
Maia Chaka Becomes First Black Female Official in NFL History
Maia Chaka has been added as an NFL’s game official for the 2021 season, making her the first Black female referee in league history.
Chaka previously served as an official at the college level in both the Pac-12 and Confederate USA.
Chaka was also selected to the NFL’s Officiating Development Program in 2014, which “identifies top collegiate officiating talent to expose them to some of the same experiences as NFL officials, working to determine if they have the ability to succeed as an NFL official.”
“I am honored to be selected as an NFL official,” Chaka said in a league statement. “But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture.”
When not officiating, Chaka is a health and physical education teacher from Virginia Beach. She graduated from Norfolk State University with a bachelor’s in education in 2006.
“Maia’s years of hard work, dedication and perseverance – including as part of the NFL Officiating Development Program – have earned her a position as an NFL official,” NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent Sr. said. “As we celebrate Women’s History Month, Maia is a trailblazer as the first Black female official and inspires us toward normalizing women on the football field.”
Ryan Switzer Asks for Prayers for COVID-19 Positive Son
Former Steelers receiver Ryan Switzer asked for prayers for his 9-month-old son Christian Saturday morning. Switzer’s son has been hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19.
I’m asking everyone that this tweet comes across to please just take a second and say a prayer for our son Christian. He’s 9 months and currently in the hospital after he woke up in his blood. He’s Covid positive.
— Ryan Switzer (@Switz) March 6, 2021
In Switzer’s tweet, he asked everyone to say a prayer for the little guy. Thousands of fans have interacted with the tweet, with many voicing their prayers and well wishes.
The 26-year-old receiver signed a 1-year deal with the Cleveland Browns in January after spending time on their practice squad last season. Switzer was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He then spent both 2018 and 2019 in Pittsburgh before being released by the Steelers before the 2020 season.