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Dick Hoak Nominated for PFWA Lifetime Achievement Award

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Former Steelers assistant coach Dick Hoak has been nominated for the Pro Football Writers of America Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award, given annually for lifetime achievement as an NFL assistant coach.

After spending ten years in Pittsburgh as a player, Hoak went on to serve as the franchise’s running backs coach for his entire 35 year coaching career, spanning from 1972-2006. He coached in six Super Bowls, winning five.

Having coached some of the best running backs in Steelers history, including Hall of Famers Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis, Hoak oversaw 18 of the franchise’s 26 total 1,000-yard rushing campaigns.

Upon his retirement on January 1, 2007, Hoak had been a member of the Steelers organization for 742 of their 1,057 games to that point, and is the only coach to have worked under Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher.

Hoak was selected to the Pro Bowl as a player in 1968, and finished his playing career as the franchise’s No. 2 all-time leading rusher. He is currently fifth.

Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman was Sports Illustrated’s lead pro football writer for 29 years, before his career was tragically cut short due to multiple strokes in November 2008 that robbed his ability to speak, read and write.

Zimmerman served as the tenth president of the PFWA, and received the organization’s highest honor, the Dick McCann Award, in 1996.

He passed on November 1, 2018.

Past recipients of the award include Jim Johnson, Monte Kiffin, Wade Philips and legendary Steeler defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

Also nominated in 2020 are Bill Arnsparger, Romeo Crennel, Rod Marinelli, Bobb McKittrick, Floyd Peters, Buddy Ryan and Bobby Turner.

NFL

J.J. Watt is Signing with the Arizona Cardinals

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The weeks of waiting and theatrics are over. Free agent defensive end J.J. Watt is signing with the Arizona Cardinals.

Watt broke the news himself on Monday afternoon, tweeting a picture of himself squatting in a Cardinals t-shirt.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Watt is signing a two-year, $31 million deal with Arizona, $23 million of which will be guaranteed.

Watt joining the Cardinals comes as somewhat of a surprise, as reporting over recent weeks had suggested the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns were the last favorites standing.

Still, Watt’s former Houston Texans teammate and current Cardinals wide receiver Deandre Hopkins was actively recruiting the star defensive end to Arizona just two weeks ago.

“Let’s finish what we started,” Hopkins said in an Instagram post picturing the two embracing with Watt Photoshopped into a Cardinals jersey.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the early favorites to land Watt, reuniting him with his brothers T.J. and Derek, but the clubs financials made the most virtually impossible to compete with an offer like Arizona’s.

The Cardinals now own one of the league’s fiercest defensive fronts, pairing Watt alongside elite edge rusher Chandler Jones, who has 97 career sacks.

Arizona already had the fourth-most sacks in football last season with 48.

Watt departed Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.

A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).

Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown in 2020.

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NFL

NFL Insider John Clayton: Steelers Out of Running for J.J. Watt

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One of the league’s most prominent insiders believes the Steelers are out of the running for free agent defensive end J.J. Watt.

Joining The PM Team on 93.7 The Fan on Wednesday, NFL insider John Clayton said Watt will not be joining his brothers T.J. and Derek in Pittsburgh.

Clayton sees the Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills as the favorites to land Watt’s services.

For a potential dark horse, Clayton says the Las Vegas Raiders as an outside-the-box candidate to sign the veteran pass rusher.

Watt leaves Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.

A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).

Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown in 2020.

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NFL Hosting Women’s Careers in Football Forum

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The NFL is hosting its fifth annual Women’s Careers in Football Forum from Feb. 24-25, the league announced in a press release Tuesday.

The event will be held virtually and “connect 40 women, 75% of whom are women of color, with leaders in professional football to help those women network and build relationships in the areas of coaching, scouting and football operations.”

Those participating in the event will join panel discussions, breakout sessions and have networking opportunities with industry leaders, such as head coaches and team executives. All portions of the event are aimed at building connections that will result in hirings and subsequent representation.

Since its inception in 2017, the two-day event has assisted in developing “a more diverse talent pipeline by connecting high-potential women to career opportunities in football.” According to the league, 118 opportunities for women in football have been created as a result.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and wife Jane Skinner Goodell will speak, as well as NFL Chief Football Administrative Officer Dawn Aponte. In addition, three owners, seven head coaches and six general managers will also join the conversation.

Sarah Thomas made history earlier this month becoming the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl. The champion Tamp Bay Buccaneers also had a record number of women on their coaching staff this past season.

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