Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman.

Long-time Sports Illustrated writer Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman passed away Thursday at the age of 86, and there was a massive outpouring of tributes from across the football world. NBC’s Peter King, a colleague of Zimmerman for many years (and the compiler and editor of last year’s Dr. Z: The Lost Memoirs of an Irreverent Football Writer) reported the news on Twitter:

Zimmerman played college football at Stanford and Columbia, then moved on to journalism, initially working for The New York Journal-American and The New York World-Telegram and Sun before heading to The New York Post in 1966. He covered the Jets there (and memorably feuded with Joe Namath at times), but also other sports, including three Olympics (and including the 1972 Munich hostage crisis).

Zimmerman’s football writing and his regular mailbags (which also referenced his regular wine column for the Post) gained wide acclaim, and he moved to Sports Illustrated in 1979. He worked there until he suffered a series of strokes in 2008, and also published several books during that time (especially 1984’s The New Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football). And he made an incredible impact along the way, writing about football in an analytical way, regularly answering  reader questions, and even providing the foundation for a lot of what we do here with his yearly announcer rankings. That’s all shown in some of the tributes to him Thursday from SI writers and editors, other members of the sports media, and well beyond:

Further tributes to Dr. Z can be found at SI and Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.