Chiefs’ Emmitt Thomas wins lifetime achievement honor from pro football writers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Longtime Chiefs defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas and former Washington offensive line coach Joe Bugel are the recipients of this year’s Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award, a lifetime achievement honor presented annually by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).

Emmitt Thomas (Photo courtesy

Thomas, also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a player for the Chiefs from 1966 to 1978,  started his coaching career in 1979 at Central Missouri State. He spent time with Washington, Philadelphia, Green Bay and Atlanta in various roles including assistant coach, wide receivers and defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator. He also served as interim head coach of the Falcons for four games in the 2007 after the resignation of Bobby Petrino.

Thomas, 75, returned to Kansas City as defensive backs coach in 2010 under head coach Todd Haley, and remained a part of the staff for both Romeo Crennel and Andy Reid. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008

Bugel spent five seasons as a head coach during stints with the then Phoenix Cardinals and Oakland Raiders but built his reputation as an assistant, most notably as offensive line coach for Washington from 1981-89. The team’s offensive line — known as the “Hogs” — carried Washington to three NFC titles and two Super Bowl wins.

Bugel and Thomas spent four seasons together in Washington, during which time the team won Super Bowl XXII. Each coach holds two Super Bowl rings as an assistant, all coming from their time with Washington.

Chiefs assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Dave Toub was also a nominee for this year’s award. Other nominees were the late Bobb McKittrick, a longtime assistant for Bill Walsh, and Jim McNally, former offensive line coach for Cincinnati, Carolina, New York Giants and Buffalo.

The Dr. Z Award is presented by the PFWA for lifetime achievement as an assistant coach in the NFL. The award is named for Zimmerman, who covered the NFL for 29 years as Sports Illustrated’s lead pro football writer.

Past winners of the Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award:
2014: Jim Johnson, Howard Mudd, Fritz Shurmur and Ernie Zampese
2015: Dick LeBeau, Tom Moore and Dante Scarnecchia
2016: Monte Kiffin and Wade Phillips
2017: Bud Carson
2018: Joe Bugel and Emmitt Thomas


Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.