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Washington/Baltimore area’s Monroe, Thompson, Brown, Robinson Headline NABJ Sports Task Force Awards

Wednesday, July 27, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Aprill Turner
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Combine Earl “The Pearl” Monroe’s creativity with John Thompson’s integrity, Larry Brown’s durability and Frank Robinson’s all-around ability, and you would have the unbeatable superstar athlete/coach. That person probably never will be born, but the Sports Task Force of the National Association of Black Journalists is proud to announce that those four stellar sports figures will be among seven honorees on August 5th at the annual Sam Lacy Pioneer Awards during the NABJ/NAHJ Convention.

The other honorees are National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts, longtime D.C. sportscaster Glenn Harris and Lincoln Phillips, who coached two Howard University soccer teams to NCAA Division I championships. The Sports Task Force will also recognize the 60th anniversary of the NFL Players Association. The event will be held at 6 p.m. in the host Washington Marriott Wardman Park hotel.

From August 3-7, about 4,000 members of NABJ and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists will jointly participate in workshops, a career fair and special events. About 150 convention goers regularly attend the Pioneer Awards. Our award is named after Sam Lacy, the great sports columnist who was instrumental in Jackie Robinson successfully integrating major league baseball. Lacy spent most of his career with the Baltimore Afro-American and wrote a weekly column until he died in 2003 at 99.

The Sports Task Force, which began in 1987, is a specialized group within NABJ for print, broadcast and online sports journalists. We established the Pioneer Awards in 1989 to acknowledge black sports figures that have been groundbreakers in or grew up in the area of the convention. For the seventh consecutive year, Major League Baseball is the major sponsor of the Pioneer Awards. Co-sponsors are the NFL, NBA, Events DC, NASCAR, and the NFL Players Association. The co-hosts will be Ron Thomas, director of the Morehouse College Journalism and Sports Program, and Minneapolis on-air personality Ray Richardson on KMOJ-FM.

Here are this year’s Pioneer Award winners:

• Larry Brown, an undersized but powerful running back, was an integral part of the resurgence of Washington football under coaches Vince Lombardi and George Allen from 1969-1976. Brown was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1972 and played in four straight Pro Bowls. Forty years after his last carry, his 5,875 rushing yards still rank third in all-time Washington history. 

Glenn Harris was on the air in his hometown market for 41 years on radio and television before retiring in 2015. For 24 years, “Sports Talk With Glenn Harris” on WJLA-TV (NewsChannel 8) was must-see viewing for D.C. sports fans. Soccer legend Pele was Harris’ first guest in 1991. Harris, 69, also worked at WRC-TV (Channel  4), WTTG-TV (Channel  5) and  WHUR-FM, where he was football play-by-play announcer for Howard University, his alma mater. 

Earl “The Pearl” Monroe was selected by the Baltimore Bullets with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1967 NBA Draft. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 24.3 points per game, and in four seasons with the Bullets, Monroe averaged 23.3 points and 4.3 assists. Monroe, 72, next played nine seasons with the New York Knicks before retiring in 1980. He was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1990.

Lincoln Phillips became Howard University’s head soccer coach in 1971 and immediately led the Bisons to the first NCAA Division I championship won by an HBCU school. But the title was taken away from Howard for player eligibility violations. Skeptics claimed racism was involved; Phillips had no time for such speculation. Instead, he rebuilt his team around Caribbean and West African players and won the Division I title again only three years later. In 10 seasons, Phillips’ record at Howard was 116-19.

• When the National Basketball Players Association elected attorney Michele Roberts as its executive director in 2014, she became the first female top executive of a major players union in North America. Previously, she successfully defended death-row inmates in disciplinary hearings, clients accused of violent crimes, and clients accused of white-collar crime. She was a partner in the prestigious Washington law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom. 

Frank Robinson remains the only baseball player to win MVP honors in the American and National leagues. His playing career spanned 20 years, including winning the AL Triple Crown with Baltimore in 1966 with a .319 batting average, 49 homers and 122 RBIs. Cleveland hired him as baseball’s first black manager in 1975. He was named AL Manager of the Year in 1989 while leading the Orioles and managed the Washington Nationals in 2005-2006.

• John Thompson developed a memorable legacy at Georgetown University, where in 1974 he became the first African-American coach to win an NCAA Division I basketball championship. Thompson compiled a 596-239 record in 24 years at Georgetown, including 20 NCAA tournament appearances. He also had a 97 percent graduation rate among players who stayed at Georgetown for at least four years. He refused to coach two games in 1989 to protest the NCAA’s “Prop 42” bylaw that he believed discriminated against African-American student-athletes. 


Ron Thomas 510-913- 0775

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