Antonio Brown joined a list of illustrious former Steelers when he was presented the Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year Award at the Dapper Dan Dinner & Sports Auction on Tuesday night at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The award has been presented annually by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette since 1939 and the dinner benefits Dapper Dan Charities.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown is honored with the Sportsman of the Year award at the 79th annual Dapper Dan Dinner and Sports Auction.
Brown is the first Steelers player to win it since Jerome Bettis won in 2005, and fourth member of the Steelers' organization in recent years as Ben Roethlisberger won in 2004 and Coach Mike Tomlin won it in 2008. Former Steelers who won the award include Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw, Joe Greene, Franco Harris, Chuck Noll and John Stallworth.
"It's a tremendous honor, it's prestigious," said Brown. "With the guys who came before me who won it it's huge. It's a great feeling. It's a great opportunity."
Brown, who was selected to his third Pro Bowl this year, recorded at least one reception in 72 straight games in which he played, and set a single season team record with 129 receptions and 1,698 receiving yards in 2014 while leading the NFL in receiving.
"I coached receivers for as long time in the NFL and have had a lot of different guys who have been great, great players at the position," said Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley. "When I first got around Antonio I am looking at him, going this small guy, I don't know whether he can be what he thinks he can be.
"I have said it a number of times you can't put a ceiling on him. Each time you put a bar on what he is capable of, he smashes through it. It's a testament to his determination and work ethic, along with his God-given ability, which is phenomenal. He does it like the other guys I have been around or better, he just doesn't do it in the same package you are used to. I think it makes it a little more special to see a guy like him do it."
It's the work ethic Haley referred to and his approach to the game that has a huge impact on his teammates. Brown puts his time in, whether it be in the weight room or extra work after every practice, he doesn't shy away from it.
"The way he prepares, the way he works, is amazing," said center Maurkice Pouncey. "He is one of the hardest workers on the team. Every single day is serious to him. This is his life and this is what he loves. You can watch a guy like that and learn."
It's those who have to line up against him every day in practice that really notice it.
"The dude works harder than anybody," said linebacker Jarvis Jones. "Every day he is consistent, you know what you are going to get out of him every day. He isn't one of those guys that just comes to work and had a good game and feels like he did something special. He wants to get better every moment, every day and in every aspect of the game."
Other awardees at the dinner included World Championship Gold Medalist and Olympic Silver Medalist volleyball player Christa Harmotto Dietzen (Sportswoman), former Buffalo Bills and Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly (Lifetime Achievement) and Pirates general manager Neal Huntington (Dr. Freddie Fu Leadership).