Jarrett Bell, who has covered the NFL since 1981 and has been with USA Today since 1993, has been selected as the 2022 Bill Nunn Jr. Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
Bell, the 54th Nunn Award honoree, is the first Black journalist to receive the honor from the PFWA. He is the second person from USA Today to win the award, joining Gordon Forbes (1988).
The Nunn Award is given to a reporter who has made a long and distinguished contribution to pro football through coverage. The award is named for Nunn, who prior to his Hall of Fame scouting career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, worked for 22 years at the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the most influential Black publications in the United States. Nunn, who started with the Courier as a sports writer in 1948, regularly covered HBCU events and athletes. He compiled the definitive Black College All-America team for the Courier starting in 1950. Nunn became the sports editor, and he was the paper’s managing editor when the Steelers hired him as a part-time scout in 1966. He was hired as the Steelers’ assistant director of player personnel in 1970, and he stayed with the organization as a scout and personnel executive until his death in 2014. Nunn helped build the Steelers’ dynasty of the 1970s, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a contributor in 2021. The PFWA’s award was renamed for Nunn in 2021.
Other 2022 nominees for the Nunn Award were Mary Kay Cabot (Cleveland Plain Dealer), Gary Myers (author) and Barry Wilner (Associated Press).
Bell is the current NFL columnist for USA Today. He was as a contributor at ESPN (2013-17), primarily featured as a panelist on the former NFL Insiders show and SportsCenter. In addition to winning dozens of in-house awards for USA Today, he won a first-place honor from the Associated Press Sports Editors in 2020, and he has earned multiple Dick Connor Writing Awards from the PFWA. Bell previously covered the San Francisco 49ers for The Marin Independent Journal (1990-92) and was editor of The Dallas Cowboys Weekly (1989).
Bell is a longtime member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee, including the Hall’s contributors committee, and he was part of the blue-ribbon panel that selected the NFL 100 All-Time Team. He has also been the designated pool reporter for the PFWA at five Super Bowls.
Bell was prominently featured in two documentaries, “The Forgotten Four” and “Minister of Defense: The Reggie White Story.” A native of Detroit, he covered high school football as a staff writer for the Dallas Times Herald (1981-83) and was sports director for KNOK-FM (1984-85) in Fort Worth. He started with Dallas Cowboys Weekly as a contributing writer soon after his 1981 graduation from Michigan State, and he was hired as assistant editor of the publication in 1985.
“We are incredibly proud of Jarrett, who is well deserving of this prestigious award. He has worked hard over the course of his long career to develop relationships all over the league, with not just the people he relies on as sources, but with the many reporters whom JB has befriended on the beat. He is a kind and generous mentor and colleague who always has time to share advice and insight. When JB says, ‘I got a story for you,’ you need to listen,” said Roxanna Scott, USA Today Sports executive editor and vice president. “JB has covered the league for more than three decades and has been an authoritative, fair and impactful voice for USA Today Sports for 29 years. As a columnist, he isn’t afraid to tackle the tough topics, and he’s always looking for stories that delve into a person’s character and humanity outside the confines of a football field. As the veteran who has seen it all, JB is invested in helping younger reporters reach the next level. We are so thrilled for JB as he is recognized by his peers within the PFWA.”
“Jarrett Bell is the gold standard in pro football writing; he’s impeccably sourced and he always seems to know the right questions to ask in the big moments. His columns at USA Today are a must-read if you want to understand not just what is happening in the NFL, but why,” said PFWA president Lindsay Jones of The Athletic. “He’s been a friend and a mentor to so many reporters across the industry and serves as a tremendous example for all of us of how to do this job the right way.”
Bell will be honored during the 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls that includes the Enshrinees’ Gold Jacket Dinner in downtown Canton on Friday, Aug. 5, and the Class of 2022 Enshrinement on Saturday, Aug. 6 in Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
ABOUT THE PFWA: In its 59th season in 2022, the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) is the official voice of pro football writers, promoting and fighting for access to NFL personnel to best serve the public. The PFWA is made up of accredited writers who cover the NFL and the 32 teams daily. Lindsay Jones of The Athletic is the PFWA president for the 2021-22 seasons and the organization’s 30th president. Jenny Vrentas of Sports Illustrated is the PFWA’s first vice-president, Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News is the second vice-president and Mike Sando of The Athletic is the secretary-treasurer. At-large board members include USA Today’s Mike Jones, ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold, The Athletic’s Dan Pompei and ProFootballTalk.com’s Charean Williams. Follow the PFWA at ProFootballWriters.org and on Twitter at @PFWAwriters.
BILL NUNN JR. AWARD WINNERS (To a reporter who has made a long and distinguished contribution to pro football through coverage): 1969 – George Strickler (Chicago Tribune); 1970 – Arthur Daley (New York Times); 1971 – Joe King (New York World Telegram & Sun); 1972 – Lewis “Tony” Atchison (Washington Star); 1973 – Dave Brady (Washington Post); 1974 - Bob Oates (Los Angeles Times); 1975 - John Steadman (Baltimore News-American); 1976 – Jack Hand (Associated Press); 1977 – Art Daley (Green Bay Press-Gazette); 1978 – Murray Olderman (Newspaper Enterprise Association); 1979 – Pat Livingston (Pittsburgh Press); 1980 – Chuck Heaton (Cleveland Plain Dealer); 1981 – Norm Miller (New York Daily News); 1982 – Cameron Snyder (Baltimore Sun); 1983 – Hugh Brown (Philadelphia Bulletin); 1984 – Larry Felser (Buffalo News); 1985 – Cooper Rollow (Chicago Tribune); 1986 – William Wallace (New York Times); 1987 – Jerry Magee (San Diego Union); 1988 - Gordon Forbes (USA Today); 1989 – Vito Stellino (Baltimore Sun); 1990 – Will McDonough (Boston Globe); 1991 – Dick Connor (Denver Post); 1992 – Frank Luksa (Dallas Morning News); 1993 – Ira Miller (San Francisco Chronicle); 1994 – Don Pierson (Chicago Tribune); 1995 – Ray Didinger (Philadelphia Daily News); 1996 – Paul Zimmerman (Sports Illustrated); 1997 – Bob Roesler (New Orleans Times-Picayune); 1998 – Dave Anderson (New York Times); 1999 – Art Spander (Oakland Tribune); 2000 – Tom McEwen (Tampa Tribune); 2001 – Len Shapiro (Washington Post); 2002 – Edwin Pope (Miami Herald); 2003 – Joel Buchsbaum (Pro Football Weekly); 2004 – Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News); 2005 – Jerry Green (Detroit News); 2006 – John McClain (Houston Chronicle); 2007 – John Clayton (ESPN.com); 2008 – Len Pasquarelli (ESPN.com); 2009 – Peter King (Sports Illustrated); 2010 – Peter Finney (New Orleans Times-Picayune); 2011 – Bob McGinn (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel); 2012 – Tom Kowalski (MLive.com); 2013 – Dan Pompei (Chicago Tribune); 2014 – Ed Bouchette (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette); 2015 – Dave Goldberg (Associated Press); 2016 – Chris Mortensen (ESPN.com); 2017 – Ed Werder (ESPN); 2018 – Charean Williams (Pro Football Talk); 2019 – Sam Farmer (Los Angeles Times); 2020 – Don Banks (SI.com); 2021 – Bob Glauber (Newsday); 2022 – Jarrett Bell (USA Today)