Paul Zimmerman (Dr. Z) Dies at 86; Chronicled Football’s Complexity

Paul Zimmerman (Dr. Z) Dies at 86; Chronicled Football’s Complexity


Mr. Zimmerman burnished his football-expert credentials with the publication of “A Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football” (1970), which he revised in 1984. In his review of the original version, the Times sports columnist Robert Lipsyte praised Mr. Zimmerman for having a “clear and skeptical eye and the rare gift of being interesting and technical at the same time.”

At Sports Illustrated, Mr. Zimmerman became known for his mock N.F.L. drafts, for answering letters about football and various other subjects, including wine (about which he had a column in The Post) and for picking winners each week.

Leading off his bettor’s guide to Week 12 of the 2008 football season — one of the last things he wrote before his first stroke — he advised readers: “You’re going to see a parade of underdogs that will blow your head off. So wear a hat.”

Before his illness, he had completed an autobiography, “Dr. Z: The Lost Memoirs of an Irreverent Football Writer.” But it took until last year for it to be published, with help from Mr. King, who how works for NBC Sports.

In addition to his wife, Linda, Mr. Zimmerman is survived by his daughter, Sarah Zimmerman; his son, Michael; a stepson, Nathan Bailey; a stepdaughter, Heather Snopek; and a granddaughter.

In 2014, six years into his stroke-imposed silence, Mr. Zimmerman starred in a nine-minute video, “Yours Truly, Dr. Z,” produced by NFL Films. In the video, the actor Tom Wopat narrates a script by Ken Rodgers based largely on what Mr. Zimmerman had written in the past. The collaboration earned Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Zimmerman a Sports Emmy for outstanding writing.

“Ken did his homework,” Ms. Bailey Zimmerman said in a telephone interview, “and could do the dialogue as if Paul was talking.”



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