DALLAS (FWAA) -- Long-time Philadelphia journalist Donald Hunt has been named the recipient of the 2022 Football Writers Association of America's Lifetime Achievement Award, it was announced on Thursday.
Hunt retired in December 2021 after a 43-year career, mainly at the Philadelphia Tribune, the oldest continuously published African American newspaper in the country. He has been a member of the FWAA for nearly 35 years. And he has a long list of previous honors that include membership in the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame and Philadelphia Black Basketball Hall of Fame and NABJ Journalist of the Year in 2011 by the National Association of Black Journalists Sports Task Force. He is the first African American sportswriter to go into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.
Hunt originally wanted to become a physical education teacher and basketball coach, but changed his mind when he was introduced to careers in sports information and sports writing during his senior year at Lincoln University (Pa.).
He now joins an illustrious list of 10 previous FWAA Lifetime Achievement winners: Art Spander, San Francisco Examiner (2013); Bill Little, University of Texas (2014); Irv Moss, Denver Post (2015); Buddy Davis, Ruston Daily Leader (2016); Mike Finn, ACC (2017); Dave Plati, University of Colorado (2018); Paul Hoolahan, Sugar Bowl, and Wright Waters, Football Bowl Association (2019); Sid Hartman, Minneapolis Star-Tribune (2020); and Shelly Poe, Auburn University, (2021).
"This is quite an honor for me," Hunt said. "I never thought I would receive an award of this magnitude. I usually write about athletes, coaches and other sports people who earn this kind of accolade. I really appreciate it. This award means a lot to my family, friends and colleagues who have supported my career as a sportswriter."
Hunt is particularly proud of the fact he wrote a column in 2008 that called for the legendary Wilt Chamberlain to have a U.S. Postage Stamp. In 2014 that became a reality after years of meetings.
"The U.S. Postal Service designed two of the biggest stamps ever for Wilt, " Hunt said. "They created two stamps, one in a Philadelphia uniform and one in a Lakers jersey. Wilt is one of the most popular athletes of all time. The response was so great we had to form a Wilt Chamberlain Postage Stamp Committee."
Hunt was very active in the coverage and chronicling of Philadelphia Black quarterbacks and HBCU stars as well as covering Temple and Villanova. with such stars as Paul Palmer and Brian Westbrook at Temple and Villanova, respectively.
In 2004, he wrote a series on the Black College Quarterback, particularly highlighting the Philadelphia Eagles' long-line, including Randall Cunningham, Rodney Peete, Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick.
"However, Johnnie Walton who played for the Eagles from 1976-79 and will be inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame in June, blazed the trail for all of them," Hunt said. "Walton was a terrific quarterback at Elizabeth City State in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association....It was HBCU football breaking ground in the NFL.'
In 2007, Hunt. and Chris Murray put together the All-Time Black College Football Team in the Philadelphia Tribune--three teams actually. The quarterbacks were Doug Williams of Grambling State, Steve McNair of Alcorn State and James Harris of Grambling State.
Hunt has authored three books: "The Philadelphia Big 5; Chaney: Playing for a Legend; and Great Names in Black College Sports.
Hunt's presence in press boxes and press rows in Philadelphia in various sports has been the norm for more than three decades. He has covered local NBA greats Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Charles Barkley and the 76ers' 2001 run to the NBA finals. The Eagles' 2017 Super Bowl Champions, the Phillies' 2008 World Series champions and three Villanova NCAA championship teams in basketball in 1985, 2016 and 2018.
The FWAA's Lifetime Achievement Award is given to an individual who has been an FWAA member or someone close to the organization who has contributed greatly to either college football, the writing profession or the FWAA during his or her career.
"Donald Hunt has chronicled a variety of sports, including college football prominently, for several decades," said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. "His contributions to the sport of college football have been numerous, and he has been a leader in attracting other African Americans into the sports writing and broadcasting field. He has been one of the most versatile journalists in the country. Donald was at home at a Philly prep game as well as at a professional game."
"There are more black sportswriters now than when I started in the business," Hunt said. "I remember some times being the only African American sports writer in the press box during my career. It's good to see more people of color in sports writing. I appreciate all the trailblazers who opened the doors for me like Thom Greer (Philadelphia Daily News), Julius Thompson (Evening Bulletin) and Claude Harrison (The Philadelphia Tribune).
"I've received a lot of calls over the years from young people about getting into sports writing.. I always try to give them some good advice. The one thing I always tell them is don't let anybody discourage you from doing it."
Hunt is enjoying retirement.
"I still get up early," Hunt said . "....I watch plenty of sports on television. I rang the bell at the Philadelphia 76ers game. I do some freelance writing. I read a lot. I spend time with my family and friends throughout the week. I walk and exercise each day. I plan to do some traveling. I am pretty sure my wife (Pat) and I along with my daughter (Arielle) will visit our son (also named Donald) in Los Angeles. The big thing is that everything is being done at my own pace. It feels good. I've been blessed by the very best."
Donald's son claimed the FWAA's Volney Meece Scholarship in 2010, which is an annual grant for $1,000.00 for four years awarded to a deserving son or daughter of an FWAA member.
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or firstname.lastname@example.org.