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mesaSteeler
02-10-2011, 06:01 AM
Dapper Dan gives Joe Greene lifetime award
Suzie McConnell-Serio, Jamie Dixon, Chip Ganassi also stand tall in spotlight in diamond anniversary celebration at convention center
Thursday, February 10, 2011
By Michael Sanserino, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11041/1124424-66.stm

Who better to honor at the diamond anniversary of the Dapper Dan Dinner & Sports Auction than a man who has six rings?

It doesn't hurt that he wore No. 75 his entire career, either.

Hall of Famer "Mean" Joe Greene accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 75th annual Dapper Dan Dinner & Sports Auction Wednesday night at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

The dinner, presented by BNY Mellon, is the largest fundraiser of the year for Dapper Dan Charities, a division of PG Charities, the Post-Gazette's charitable arm. Proceeds will go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania's youth sports and education programs.

Greene, a 1987 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee and a current advisor to the Steelers, said he was humbled to receive the award. He won four Super Bowls as a defensive tackle and was on the Steelers staff for the two most recent championships.

Several former teammates were there to support Greene and wish him well. Most say they remembered Greene as a leader and a winner, far from his cruel reputation on the field.

That is, until L.C. Greenwood spoke up.

"Joe is the nastiest football player I've ever seen," Greenwood said.

Greene said when the Steelers drafted him in 1969, he dreaded the thought of joining the moribund franchise.

"But thanks to the Chief [Art Rooney], Dan [Rooney] and Chuck Noll, they gave me a chance," Greene said.

The awards dinner welcomed more than 800 guests and dignitaries to pay tribute to the best of Pittsburgh sports in 2010.

In a town known for its devotion to football and a newfound love for hockey, it was two basketball celebrities who took home the titles of sportsman and sportswoman of the year.

Pitt basketball coach Jamie Dixon was recognized as the Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year. Dixon coached a team of underdogs to success last season. With just one returning starter, he led the Panthers to 25 victories and a second-place finish in the Big East Conference. This season, the Panthers are one of the Top 5 teams in the country.

A Pirates fan since he was a child, Dixon credited the Steelers and Penguins with helping inspire him as a coach.

"I thank the Rooneys, I thank [Penguins president] David Morehouse and the Penguins for giving us a great example for what to be like as we try to build our program to be champions like the Steelers and the Penguins," Dixon said.

Duquesne women's basketball coach Suzie McConnell-Serio, the Sportswoman of the Year, had to hurry to the dinner because she was busy doing what earned her the distinction in the first place -- coaching the Dukes to victory.

"When I got the phone call that I was to accept this award, I was shocked," McConnell-Serio said, "because I really feel like ... we're not where we want to be yet."

It was McConnell-Serio's second Dapper Dan honor, having won the inaugural sportswoman of the year honor in 1999 as a WNBA player with the Cleveland Rockers.

She has led the turnaround of the Duquesne women's basketball team from a program that struggled to compete for a spot in the Atlantic 10 tournament to a program that competes for A-10 titles.

"Now," she said, "our team talks about making it to the NCAA tournament."

Bryant Harper, a student at McKeesport Area High School, was honored as the Eat'n Park Hospitality Group Youth Athlete of the Year.

The evening also paid tribute to Fox Chapel resident Chip Ganassi with the first sports leadership award, which will not be awarded annually.

In 2010, Ganassi became the first car owner to win the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 in the same year and only the second owner to win both in a lifetime. He added a Brickyard 400 win later in the year for good measure.

"I've always believed my Pittsburgh roots have played a large role in my work ethic and whatever success I've had in sports," Ganassi said. "Maybe it was the tremendous upbringing at the hands of my parents. Maybe it was the success of the sports teams of the 1970s in this town that made me expect to win. Or maybe it was just the good old work ethic that this town has.

"It was probably a combination of all three."
Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1722.

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