Sudden Death For Pro Football Weekly







Pro Football Weekly announced that it is ceasing publication after 46 years. In addition to the magazine, the PFW brand was also attached to a weekly TV series that aired on many regional sports networks. Two special issues of PFW will be published later this month.

Pro Football Weekly announced that it is ceasing publication after 46 years. In addition to the magazine, the PFW brand was also attached to a weekly TV series that aired on many regional sports networks. Two special issues of PFW will be published later this month.

The harsh reality of the newspaper industry in the 21st century is that the survival rate is not very favorable – whether you’re an employee of the paper, or the paper itself.

Just this week, we saw the Chicago Tribune sever ties with its entire photography unit, which consisted of just over two dozen people.

And at the end of the week, we saw one of America’s longest-running sports publications, Pro Football Weekly, announce that they have played their final down.

The publisher and editor of the magazine, Hub Arkush, wrote a goodbye message on PFW’s website on Friday, explaining that their attempt to “build a bridge for [us] from the rapidly deteriorating world of old media to the new, exploding market of digital media” was confounded because, “try as we might, we couldn’t get enough of you to pay what it cost us to deliver it.”

Arkush also shared what would be the penultimate post on the magazine’s website: a notice that Chicago-based bankruptcy trustee Tailwind Services LLC has assumed the assets of the publication, which was also based in the Windy City. A table also broke down the sad facts: liabilities totaling $8.5 million, or roughly 45 times as much as the assets listed.

Indeed, Arkush explained that he and all of his PFW colleagues “have worked at greatly reduced pay and, at times, no pay at all for a very long time and under the most difficult of circumstances and pressures to avoid this outcome.” He added that for “every single writer… the pay was always small, when it came at all, and yet they almost never complained and all that most of them ever wanted to know was what they could do to help.” He lauded the “commitment” of the PFW staffers as the publication neared its predictable but unfortunate end.

In recent years, despite its antiquated name, Pro Football Weekly was more of a brand than a publication. As the magazine continued, they also made a foray into the digital world, not just with new articles posted to its website, and a Facebook and Twitter account to promote them, but an iPhone app, as well.

“PFW” also lent its brand to a weekly radio show, which was carried by many terrestrial and Internet radio stations. That show actually came into my crosshairs late last year, when Arkush, who had co-hosted the show, had commented that Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano’s return to the team after successfully overcoming a cancer diagnosis would distract the team as it entered the playoffs. (It was the .750 record of interim head coach Bruce Arians, now with the Arizona Cardinals, that was largely responsible for the Colts’ successful 2012 campaign.)

Since the end of the recent NFL season, I couldn’t help but notice that regular “PFW” radio co-host Wayne Larrivee, best knwon as the radio voice of the Green Bay Packers, had been largely absent from the broadcast. On many weeks, Arkush would start the show with a message that Larrivee was “on assignment”, but in recent weeks, those messages fell by the wayside, leading many to believe that he had exited the show. No word on the future of the radio show, which actually posted a brand new episode this week.

Also in doubt is the future of the weekly television series that bore the publication’s name. Arkush also co-hosted this show, as well. The regular crew for the TV series consisted of Comcast SportsNet Chicago personality Pat Boyle as general host, with WMVP/”ESPN 1000″ Chicago midday host and NFL Network analyst Tom Waddle and WSCR/”670 The Score” Chicago personality and Bears Hall of Famer Dan Hampton also serving as co-hosts. It was just a few years ago that the television series would receive negative publicity for not one, but two things that Hampton said in the same show. During the Week 1 preview of the 2010 season, while breaking down the Dallas Cowboys’ season opener vs. the Washington Redskins, Hampton had opined that the Cowboys “think they are Clint Eastwood [but] they’re more of the Brokeback variety,” a reference to gay cowboys from the movie “Brokeback Mountain.” And in the final segment of that show, Hampton commented that in the season’s “kickoff” game between the Minnesota Vikings and the then-Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, the Vikings would pull an upset by hitting New Orleans “like Katrina,” a reference to the devastating hurricane that ravaged the state of Louisiana five years earlier. Hampton would issue an apology for both remarks on the next show. (However, that would not stop Hampton from making a veiled reference to one of his foot-in-mouth comments on the very next show.)

Alas, we don’t know if both “PFW” programs in either the television or radio mediums will be back on the air for the 2013 NFL season. There are plans to publish two special issues of the magazine, previewing the upcoming football season, as well as a fantasy football forecast, later this month – the proceeds of which will go directly to PFW’s creditors. But outside of those issues, the future of the publication is unclear. “The trustee [Tailwind] is now accepting bids on all of the Pro Football Weekly assets, and it is my greatest hope that someone with the necessary resources will come along and attempt to revive PFW,” Arkush wrote. He added that he would gladly cooperate in the return of the PFW brand, “but I’m afraid it is largely out of my control.”

Prior to this year’s NFL draft, Pro Football Weekly received a lot of buzz for Nolan Nawrocki’s scouting report of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, who would eventually be taken by the New York Jets in the second round.

Who knew that it would be the last real signs of life for the publication, as it was in its death throes behind the scenes.


Hub Arkush: Chuck Pagano Return To Colts After Beating Cancer Is "Selfish," Will Be "A Distraction" For Team

Pro Football Weekly’s Hub Arkush thinks it’s pointless for Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano to return to the sidelines for the team’s playoff run after beating leukemia. “I think it’s got to be a distraction.”

It was absolutely sobering to hear news after the Indianapolis Colts’ bye week that their new head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia.

Since offensive coordinator Bruce Arians took over on an interim basis, all the Colts have done, to paraphrase Skip Bayless, is win. And all the while, the team has not forgotten about Pagano, as personnel from players to cheerleaders showed support by shaving their heads in his honor.

As if it were some sort of Christmas miracle, Pagano has been cleared to resume head coaching duties. And on the eve of his return to the sidelines, he even sent an inspiring email to folks on LiveStrong’s email list. Pagano, of course, was the subject of an offshoot of the cancer campaign organized by the Colts, called “ChuckStrong.”

“After I was diagnosed with leukemia, my whole team rallied around me in ways I never expected,” Pagano wrote. “That’s the definition of teamwork.”

But for football publisher Hub Arkush, Pagano’s return to the Colts in the final week of the regular season is the definition of “selfish” at best.

“I know that this may be controversial, and I don’t wanna be Scrooge here, but why he is coming back is an absolute mystery to me,” Arkush told Sports Radio 610 in Houston this week. “It seems a little bit selfish. I understand I’ve never been in his position, but… I think it’s got to be a distraction, and I think Bruce Arians has done an outstanding job. They should not be screwing around with that.”

Arkush was asked by Brad Davies and Mike Meltser if he thought it was a good idea for the Colts to rest their starters, now that the team is locked into the No. 5 seed in the playoffs. But before eventually answering that question, he addressed his concern for the person who hasn’t been in action for a dozen weeks.

“If I’m Chuck Pagano, I rest myself.”

The publisher of Pro Football Weekly also took a similar stance this week on the nationally syndicated radio show that bears the publication’s name, which he co-hosts with Green Bay Packers radio announcer Wayne Larrivee.

“I don’t really understand why Chuck Pagano is coming back,” Arkush commented, adding that the coach’s cancer battle has been “a great story” and that “it’s obvious he had a huge impact” on the team’s amazing run, especially with rookie quarterback Andrew Luck under center. Arkush also believes that Arians should be a shoo-in for the NFL Coach of the Year for his work in keeping the Colts in playoff contention, winning nine of twelve games.

Pro Football Weekly is actually a pretty good publication. Not only do they have a corresponding radio show, they also have a weekly television program that runs on many regional sports networks during the football season – and many might have heard of it for the first time only after Dan Hampton predicted that the Minnesota Vikings would “hit” the New Orleans Saints “like Katrina” in the opening week of the 2010 regular season.

Having said that, this sounds like a point that Hampton, and not Arkush, might make.

While Arians deserves credit for coaching a team that has been .750 under his watch, and Luck also should get some consideration for playing out of his mind in a sensational rookie campaign (second only, perhaps, to Robert Griffin III), you can’t help but argue that the spirit of Pagano kept a fire burning like the light that remained on in his office as he underwent treatment.

So even though he’ll be back with the team physically in what will likely be the team’s final game in Indianapolis this season, no matter how far the Colts advance in the playoffs, it’s hard to say if Chuck Pagano’s return will be a head coaching version of Ronnie Lott or Kirk Gibson or Curt Schilling or Willis Reed.

But to suggest that “ChuckStrong” returning to the team at this phase is “selfish” is downright weak.