When you click onto the Pro Football Weekly website nothing seems amiss. Scouting reports, analysis of draft picks and off-season personnel moves dominate the home page, as you might expect for the late spring/early summer months.
But if you glance to the “top stories” index at the top right of the page and click onto the first link, you’ll read more about why PFW is no longer publishing. Publisher Hub Arkush, son of the man who founded the magazine in 1967, delivered the bad news last week:
I would love to tell you all about the future if I could, but I’m as curious as anyone to see what’s next. Pro Football Weekly’s NFL Preview 2013 magazine and the Fantasy Football Guide 2013 will be available at your local newsstands on June 11 and June 25, respectively. The rights to publish and distribute those magazines were sold to help raise money for the “assignment for the benefit of the creditors,” and most of the old PFW staff and I wrote and edited them, so I believe you will find them to be equal to the old PFW standards. Beyond that the trustee 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. I will continue to do anything and everything I can to assist in making that happen, but I’m afraid it is largely out of my control.
And with that, another venerable entity of a slowly-dying sporting press has gone away, not long after the print demise of The Sporting News.
Developments like this naturally tend to prompt nostalgiac retrospectives, which can become maudlin. Mike Tanier of Sports On Earth avoids this in offering a fond farewell to PFW, assessing its impact but also why this reality came to be:
The seeds of Pro Football Weekly’s demise were sown right in the publication’s name. Pro Football Weekly. In Internet terms, that might as well be Pro Football Never.
Maybe we were happier then. What’s important is not so much what we have gained, or what we lost, but simply what has changed. We now demand Pro Football Daily, Pro Football Hourly, Pro Football on a second-by-second basis on Twitter. Waiting until the end of the week for some perspective is like waiting until Friday afternoon to breathe. It is hard to remember how different things were, not too long ago.
This business needs more outlets of record. The writers need more employers. The readers need more, better, smarter voices. PFW had fallen on hard times content-wise, but the magazine and website did not die because Nolan Nawrocki was not as good as [early draft guru Joel] Buchsbaum or because whispers now proceed directly from players to fans in the form of tweets. It died of velocity poisoning. Those of us who loved it most helped kill it.
Lance Zierlein of the Houston Chronicle especially remembers Buchsbaum, who prefigured Mel Kiper and others by more than a decade:
I asked my dad who he was talking about and he said that he was reading his scouting report on Jason Fabini and that Buchsbaum had him pegged just as he had Kevin Mawai pegged when my dad coached him at LSU and a variety of other offensive linemen over the years whom my dad had watched during film studies of other teams.
Bill Belichick thought enough of Buchsbaum to try and hire him away to the Cleveland Browns, but Joel wouldn’t budge. When you thought of Buchsbaum, you thought of Pro Football Weekly and when you thought of Pro Football Weekly, you thought of Joel Buchsbaum.