Hall of Fame announces 15 recipients of third annual ‘Awards of Excellence’

General Published on : 3/27/2024
  • 2024 honorees will be recognized June 26-27 in Canton; ‘Photograph of the Year’ award also part of program 


Individuals from five categories who have helped drive the accomplishments of their profession, individual NFL Clubs and the sport of pro football have been identified for Awards of Excellence under a program the Pro Football Hall of Fame launched in 2022 to recognize significant contributors to the game.

“This year’s 15 outstanding Assistant Coaches, Athletic Trainers, Equipment Managers, Film/Video Directors and Public Relations personnel have no doubt left indelible marks on their respective clubs and professional football,” Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said. “Countless hours have been spent over many years by each of these individuals making their fields, their former clubs and the National Football League better.”

Receiving Awards of Excellence for 2024 are: 
  • Assistant Coaches — Monte Kiffin, Bill McPherson and Lionel Taylor.
  • Athletic Trainers — Steve Antonopulos, Dean Kleinschmidt and Bill Tessendorf.
  • Equipment Managers — Bill Hampton Sr., Don Hewitt and Richard “Dick” Romanski. 
  • Film/Video Directors — Tom Atcheson, Bob McCartney and Dave Levy.
  • Public Relations Directors — Dan Edwards, Harvey Greene and Frank Ramos. 

Winners were announced this afternoon on “The SiriusXM Blitz” broadcast with hosts Bruce Murray and Rich Gannon. Kiffin and his son, University of Mississippi head football coach Lane Kiffin, joined the show to reminisce about Monte’s 50-plus-year career in coaching.

The Hall of Fame will recognize the 15 Awards of Excellence recipients in Canton with an evening reception June 26 and a luncheon June 27 emceed by Hall of Famer DAN FOUTS.

Also this year at the awards luncheon, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will honor the winner of its annual photo contest. Photographs taken during the 2023 National Football League season in the “Action” and “Feature” categories and entered in the contest are eligible for awards. A panel of professional photographers will judge the entries and pick first-, second- and third-place finishers in each category. 

The Photograph of the Year — chosen from the first-place winners in the Action and Feature categories — will be deemed winner of the 56th annual Dave Boss Award of Excellence. That photographer will be invited to Canton for the June 26-27 program, and his/her image will be placed on display in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Awards of Excellence

The five groups presenting the Awards of Excellence created their own selection committees and set their own criteria for choosing their class members. The Hall of Fame does not participate in any nominating or voting. 

Assistant Coaches, Athletic Trainers, Equipment Managers and Public Relations personnel were part of the inaugural Awards of Excellence program in 2022. The category for Film/Video Directors was added last year, with its inaugural group composed of five members.

Below are brief biographies for the 2024 honorees:


Assistant Coaches

MONTE KIFFIN

Known by many for his time in Tampa Bay (1996-2008) alongside Hall of Fame coach TONY DUNGY, Kiffin began his stint in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers in 1983. Serving as an assistant coach for eight teams until 2015, he helped create and implement the “Tampa 2” defensive scheme that eventually propelled the Buccaneers to their victory in Super Bowl XXXVII. Still actively involved in the game as a consultant and analyst at the University of Mississippi.

BILL McPHERSON

Hired by Hall of Fame coach BILL WALSH in his first season with the San Francisco 49ers in 1979, McPherson was part of the organization’s five Super Bowl championships (XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV and XXIX). One of the most respected teachers in the game during his time, McPherson worked in multiple capacities on the 49ers’ coaching staff for 20 years until 1999, when he transitioned into a role in the front office. 

LIONEL TAYLOR

A two-time Super Bowl champion (IX, X) as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Taylor’s coaching career spanned 29 years, including college and the World Football League (WFL). Before earning a coordinator position with the Los Angeles Rams (1980-81) and later the Cleveland Browns (1989), Taylor mentored the likes of future Hall of Famers LYNN SWANN and JOHN STALLWORTH during seven seasons with the Steelers as wide receivers coach.


Athletic Trainers

STEVE ANTONOPULOS

Throughout his illustrious career spanning 45 seasons, Antonopulos (known to many as “Greek”) served as the head athletic trainer for the Denver Broncos from 1980-2017, followed by director of sports medicine from 2017-2021. He received numerous awards during his tenure in the NFL, including the NATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award (2005) and the Fain-Cain Memorial Award Most Outstanding NFL Athletic Trainer Award (2010-11), among others.

DEAN KLEINSCHMIDT

Beginning his NFL career as an intern for the 1967 and 1968 Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, Kleinschmidt became the head athletic trainer for the Saints at the age of 23, making history as the youngest head trainer in the NFL. He remained with the Saints for an impressive 31 years, working under 17 NFL coaches. A member of five halls of fame, he earned the Tim Kerin Award for Excellence in Athletic Training by NATA in 2002.

BILL TESSENDORF

Tessendorf’s athletic training journey began in 1973 with the Cleveland Browns, where he would spend over 20 years of his professional career before the franchise relocated to Baltimore. “Tess” was a trailblazer in player safety advocacy, becoming the first representative of athletic trainers on the NFL Injury & Safety panel. For his career, he calls the Super Bowl victory as the head athletic trainer for the Ravens in 2001 as his “crowning achievement.”


Equipment Managers

BILL HAMPTON SR.

From 1964 until 2002, Hampton was responsible for the equipment management of the New York Jets. Retired after 723 games with the Jets, missing only one game — in 1984 — for a medical issue. Credited with the idea of outfitting players in pantyhose to keep their legs warm during frigid conditions in New York and for sewing pockets onto the jerseys of quarterbacks, running backs and receivers. Career began in the National Hockey League in 1945 with New York Rangers.

DON HEWITT

The Los Angeles Rams brought Hewitt on staff in 1967, where his professional career lasted 32 years. He supervised the equipment move when the team opened Rams Park in Anaheim, Calif., in 1981, and he helped in the move to St. Louis in 1995. Before joining the ranks of the NFL, he served in WWII in naval aviation, coached high school football for a decade and was equipment manager at the University of Southern California for two years. Worked 14 Pro Bowls. 

RICHARD “DICK” ROMANSKI

Romanski came to the Oakland Raiders in 1963 when Hall of Famer AL DAVIS was named head coach and general manager. He served as the Raiders’ equipment manager for over five decades — a timespan that included an AFL title in 1968 and subsequent appearance in Super Bowl II followed later by three Super Bowl victories (XI, XV, XVIII). Member of his high school and college halls of fame and an Army veteran.


Film/Video Directors

TOM ATCHESON

Atcheson was the film/video director for the Atlanta Falcons for 22 seasons (1979-2000) following a lengthy stint as a camera operator for NFL Films under future Hall of Fame enshrinee ED SABOL. Got his first taste of photography while in the Air Force. Led the Falcons’ transition from analog to digital throughout their operations. Helped design the video booth at the Georgia Dome. Credited with establishing procedures at the NFL Combine still in use.

BOB McCARTNEY

McCartney has worked for the Steelers for 51 seasons, and the first game he filmed was an iconic one, the playoff game against the Raiders that ended with “Immaculate Reception.” While McCartney had filmed practice on occasion for the team during the 1972 season, he never filmed a game as he was working part-time helping in other departments, including the equipment and training room. He now serves as Steelers’ director of facilities.

DAVE LEVY

Levy began his 29 year in Tampa Bay in 1988 and served as an instrumental voice in the development and layout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ new training facility at One Buccaneer Place, which opened in 2006. He was tasked with all video aspects for the NFL Combine during his 29 years and was a representative at the NFL Draft for the Bucs for over two decades. 


Public Relations Directors

DAN EDWARDS

In 1994, the Jacksonville Jaguars hired Edwards as the franchise’s 15th employee. He worked in the Public Relations department from the team’s inaugural season in 1995 until 2021. Prior to that time, he worked on the public relations staff in the Commissioner’s Office, then joined the Pittsburgh Steelers for nine years (1985-94). He was recruited by the league office each January to work on the NFL’s staff serving the media and promoting the game at Super Bowls.

HARVEY GREENE

For 33 years, Greene worked for the Miami Dolphins – 29 years in the public relations department, followed by four years as the Vice President of Historical Affairs. He was a fixture on the NFL’s Super Bowl staff and was the key public relations contact for Hall of Fame quarterback DAN MARINO and coach DON SHULA. Prior to working in the NFL, Greene worked for the New York Yankees in Major League Baseball.

FRANK RAMOS

Ramos spent his entire 39-year public relations career with the New York Jets, from the team’s first season in 1963 through 2001. He never missed a game – 681 in all – with the highlight coming in Miami in January 1969, when the Jets upset of the favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. He was selected as a member of the Super Bowl group each year of his career and was often a key voice in helping shape the NFL’s public relations positions.


Tickets

Tickets for the Awards of Excellence can be purchased here.