PFWA creates award named after Dr. Z to honor longtime assistant coaches

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Whether he was working at a newspaper, for Sports Illustrated or writing the seminal book The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football, Paul Zimmerman has been one of the best analytical minds around pro football for decades.

Zimmerman’s writing career came to a halt several years ago after a stroke, but his contributions to the game are being honored by his colleagues at the Pro Football Writers of America. The PFWA has created an award named after Zimmerman that shares his frequent focus on less celebrated aspects of the game.

The Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award recognizes lifetime achievement by assistant coaches. Longtime offensive line coach Howard Mudd, offensive guru Ernie Zampese and the late defensive coordinators Jim Johnson and Fritz Shurmur were named as recipients of the award in 2014.

“I’m very flattered,” Mudd said, via Peter King of “I also really appreciate the award being named after Paul. When he interviewed me, he was fixated on my troops. I appreciate how he saw the game. I’m quite taken aback. This is such an elite group.”

In this week’s Monday Morning Quarterback, King also includes a picture of Zimmerman with a Sports Emmy given to an NFL Films feature about Dr. Z that was named the winner of the Dick Schapp Outstanding Writing Award. All the honors are well deserved for a man who helped us all understand the game of football a little bit better.