Former Green Bay Packer star and pro football Hall of Famer, James Lofton will receive the Red Smith Award at the 52nd annual Red Smith Sports Awards Banquet to be held on January 17, 2017 at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel.
“If you want to make a wish list of places that represent a sport, you think of Yankee Stadium for baseball, the Boston Garden for basketball and Lambeau Field for football,” Lofton said in a 2002 interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
James Lofton was the Packer’s number one draft pick (sixth overall) out of Stanford in 1978 and started out playing under head coach Bart Starr. As a rookie, he had an immediate impact on the struggling team, leading the team with 46 catches for 818 yards. This lead to Lofton’s first of seven straight trips to the Pro Bowl as a Packer. He continued to lead the Packers in receptions each year except 1979. In 1983 and 1984, he led the league in yards-per-catch with a 22.4 and 22.0 average, respectively. At the conclusion of his career with the Packers, Lofton earned 100 or more receiving yards in 32 games, the best in team history, and was the team’s all-time leading receiver with 9,656 yards. Additionally, Lofton worked extensively in the Green Bay community, serving on the board of directors of the Milwaukee Ballet, becoming a spokesman for the United Way in 1983, and producing his own local television program.
In 1987, Lofton left Green Bay for a two-year stint with the Los Angeles Raiders, followed by four seasons with the Buffalo Bills where he helped them to three straight Super Bowl appearances. In 1991, at age 35, Lofton became the oldest player in league history to record 1,000 receiving yards in a season. That same year he recorded a career-best 220 receiving yards in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Lofton retired in 1993 after 16 seasons in the NFL. At the time of his retirement, his accomplishments included 14,004 career receiving yards which topped the NFL. Furthermore, he was the first NFL player to catch a touchdown pass in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Lofton was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2003 class.
After retiring as a player, Lofton began a career as the San Diego Chargers’ wide receiver coach from 2002-2008. After that, Lofton settled into a career as a sports broadcaster with stints at CNN, NBC Sports and as a color analyst and sideline reporter for Westwood One radio. In 2009, he teamed with Dave Sims on Sunday Night Football and is in his eighth straight year as lead game analyst for Westwood One’s coverage of Sunday Night Football.
Lofton and his wife, Beverly, have three children: David, Daniel, and Rachel.