American Football AssociationAmerican Football Association

Binghamton, April 17, 2024 – The Professional Football Researchers Association (PFRA) is delighted to announce the recipients of its annual awards, recognizing extraordinary contributions to pro football research and historiography. The awards ceremony will highlight the achievements of four distinguished individuals in the field.

Ralph Hay Award for Lifetime Achievement: Dave Burch, President and CEO of the American Football Association (AFA), is this year’s recipient of the Ralph Hay Award for lifetime achievement in pro football research and historiography. Mr. Burch's leadership at the AFA and his dedication to documenting the history of semi-professional and professional football have left an indelible mark on the sport.

Nelson Ross Award for Outstanding Achievement in Recent Pro Football Research: Erin Grayson Sapp is honored with the Nelson Ross Award for her influential book, Moving The Chains: The Civil Rights Protest That Saved The Saints And Transformed New Orleans. Ms. Sapp's work provides a crucial historical insight into how civil rights movements intersected with and influenced professional football, reshaping the community and the game in New Orleans.

 Bob Carroll Award for Best Original Article: John Wilke receives the Bob Carroll Award for his article, Making Headlines: Identifying Pro Football’s Earliest Stars (1890-1903), published in The Coffin Corner (Vol. 45, No. 3). Mr. Wilke’s research brings to light the pioneers of pro football, enriching our understanding of its early luminaries.

Jack Clary Award for Behind-the-Scenes Contribution: Mark Palczewski is recognized with the 2023 Jack Clary Award for his invaluable behind-the-scenes work. As the PFRA’s official photographer and social media coordinator, Mark's efforts have been pivotal in enhancing the association’s visibility and engagement across various platforms.

"The collective efforts of Dave Burch, Erin Grayson Sapp, John Wilke and Mark Palczewski embody the spirit and mission of the PFRA," said George Bozeka, President of the PFRA. "Their outstanding contributions continue to enhance our appreciation and knowledge of professional football’s rich history." 

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