Here’s a deep appreciation for one of the all-time great sportswriting scribes, Paul ‘Dr. Z’ Zimmerman.
In a brazen world of full of journalistic compromise, buffoonery, and a stale search for sports gossip, Zimmerman was the left tackle pulling and flattening you with sharp insights, knowledge, history, and a swift undercut of witty humor. Zimmerman was not a wonky sportswriter who trolled stats and behind the scenes gossip. He wrote about the game he actually played and loved. He also understood the power of descriptive words, sharp viewpoints, and how to fuel a powerful article with humorous twists.
He was the lead football sportswriter for SI in the 70s. (Check out one of his cornerstone SI pieces on Jack Lambert from 7/30/84.) His online articles were absolute gold nuggets during the launch of online sportswriting. I would personally argue that Zimmerman wrote some of the best pieces of long-form sports column writing seen on the web.
After several strokes and long-term health aliments, Zimmerman has fallen on hard times, there is a drive to publish his memoirs. I’m pretty sure they could pull together an incredible volume that would bring any sportswriting reader to turn pages with ease.
The NFL is not the same. Football is not the same. And hell, online articles are not the same without Paul Zimmerman’s writing.
Celebrate your pre-training camp and pool time with some ‘Dr. Z’s’ reads. Peter King and the SI/MMQB staff put together an incredible tribute. You’ll not only walk away more knowledgeable, but you’ll feel like the ex-linebacker bartender only spent time with you.
Long Live ‘Dr. Z.’