It’s been a good few days for Pittsburgh Steelers running backs, current and former. While Le’Veon Bell learned that he was finally going to have the opportunity come next month to be an unrestricted free agent, both his successor and one of his predecessors were honored at the Dapper Dan Awards for the city of Pittsburgh, which the former will no longer represent.
James Conner received the Sportsman of the Year Award, while Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis received the Lifetime Achievement Award, for which former Steelers players have been a popular choice for recipient in recent years.
Bettis grew up in Detroit, played in Notre Dame, and then was drafted by the Rams, but he identifies Pittsburgh as his home. “It’s an incredible honor, I do understand it”, he said prior to the ceremony. “It feels like I’ve been in Pittsburgh a lifetime. All the things that we’ve been able to accomplish has been a blessing, but there’s still a lot more work to do”.
Two guys who are inspirations to so many.
James Conner was named the Dapper Dan Man of the Year, while Jerome Bettis received the Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement Award. pic.twitter.com/grE1mnVK1P
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 21, 2019
Many of you might not know to what work Bettis refers, but he has been a busy man in his life after football, which ended following the 2005 season, when he finally got the opportunity to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Bettis owns a number of businesses in the area, including trucking companies, through which he strives to provide employment opportunities for underprivileged people. He has his hands in a few other enterprises as well, some related to football.
“I’ve got at least 20 more years of some good work here in Pittsburgh creating opportunities and believing in our young men and women”, he said during his speech at the Dapper Dan event, during which he joined Conner, Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier, and others. Bell was, of course, nowhere to be seen.
Bettis is certainly one of the most well-loved sports figures the city has seen in recent decades, and perhaps of all time. I believe that many feel he embodies the spirit and ideals of the city. And perhaps he does in many ways, given that he has made Pittsburgh his adopted home.
The Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement Award codifies him for all time as a Pittsburgher, as somebody who truly loves the city and works to make it better. Part of the reason that he has elected to do this is because of the way that the city embraced him during his playing career. Now he gets the chance to give back.