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.