Brown: 'I want to keep his memory alive'

There was excitement in the air on Saturday at Antonio Brown's second-annual 'Antonio Brown & Friends Softball Game,' which featured some of his teammates, including William Gay, Mike Mitchell, Steven Johnson, Josh Dobbs and Cameron Sutton.

But it also served as an opportunity for Brown to honor a man who will always hold a special place in his heart, as he paid tribute to late Steelers' Chairman Dan Rooney.

Antonio Brown was joined by some of his Steelers teammates for a charity softball game.

"He meant everything to me, not only as an owner, but as a leader, as a role model, as someone who stood for high character and generosity as a person," said Brown. "It's difficult being around the practice facility knowing he isn't there. Not just how passionate he was about the game, but how passionate he was about people and having the right people here and doing the right thing.

"He always welcomed me with open arms, always had his door open for me to talk about anything. I am grateful I got the chance to know him on a personal level. I miss him."

A moment of silence was observed, players wore a memorial sleeve, a special bat was presented, as well as a painting featuring an image of Rooney and Brown. The painting was auctioned off to continue Rooney's tradition of giving back to the community, with it benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania and National Youth Foundation.

"Everything this year should be about Mr. Rooney and what he did," said Brown. "Anything I can do to honor him, I will do. We are starting it off at the softball game."

Brown has been known to wear shoes during pregame warmups to honor individuals, but the NFL doesn't permit them to be worn in game. So he has found a way to honor Rooney this season in every game.

"I got my gloves customized with his name in them," said Brown. "I want to keep his memory alive and continue to represent his proud Steelers tradition and make him proud."

Another way he would like to make Rooney proud is by the team winning it all this year.

"It would mean everything to go all the way in his honor," said Brown. "I think he would like to have some more of those Super Bowl trophies here. And we want it for him."

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