Annie O'Neill, Post-Gazette
As everyone waves their terrible towels, Dan Rooney approaches the dias to be honored with a Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement Award. It is only the third lifetime achievement award given in the history of the event.
Each holds a definitive and established place in Pittsburgh's sports landscape.
An eloquent, but tough Irishman from the North Side, with a last name that has earned unquestionable status among the NFL's most influential people.
A baby-faced 19-year-old Nova Scotian who is the torchbearer for an on-ice renaissance.
There's also the statuesque 6-foot-1 African-American woman from McKeesport, whose basketball skills coupled with her off-court charm have made her the standard to which the current crop of local high school players strive.
And, last night, they came together to be recognized at the 71st annual Dapper Dan Dinner and Sports Auction at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
Steelers owner Dan Rooney was recognized for Lifetime Achievement, the Penguins' Sidney Crosby earned Sportsman of the Year honors and Swin Cash, a McKeesport High School graduate and forward for the WNBA's Detroit Shock, was honored as the Sportswoman of the Year.
Proceeds from the events will go to benefit the youth sports programs at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania.
At the sharped-sloped, metallic building on the banks of the Allegheny River, each of the three honorees took their turn behind the podium, the crowd of more than 1,000 locked into each word.
Crosby's remarks were simple, an ode to a city that has rallied around him and a view toward what can be accomplished in a Penguins future that was in doubt just a few months ago.
"Hopefully," said Crosby, the youngest Sportsman of the Year Award winner ever, "we can bring you, the fans, a Stanley Cup."
Cash spoke of the loyalty the folks in Western Pennsylvania have had for her, even as her career advanced to the University of Connecticut and then to Detroit.
"Sometime it is hard when you play in another city," Cash said during her speech. "You know, it is easy to be forgotten about. ...
"But that has never happened to me and I am so appreciative for that."
But, perhaps, it was Rooney's speech that served as the most touching moment of the night.
The Rooney surname has been thrust to regal-type status in Western Pennsylvania for the family's contributions -- football and otherwise -- over the past three generations. Simply put, the Rooneys are to Pittsburgh what the Kennedys are to Boston.
And since his father, Art Sr., died in 1988, Dan Rooney has been the man out in front of that Rooney name.
Former Steelers receiver Lynn Swann spoke of Rooney's four Fs that he holds dear -- faith, family, friends and football.
The evening saw a surprise appearance by former Steelers radio broadcaster Myron Cope, whose joking was intertwined with some eloquent words.
"He has performed many acts of kindness and public charity without any attention," Cope said of Rooney.
"His credo was, and still is, 'We tried to do the right thing.' "
And as Rooney stepped to the microphone, he spoke with stoicism and humility, but also forced a chuckle from the crowd.
"As we were leaving the house, my wife, Patricia, said something to me," Rooney explained. "She told me to speak up and not mumble like I usually do."
Far be it for him to say that, for it has been his contributions and actions that have spoken, loud and clear, in Pittsburgh and throughout the National Football League for quite some time.Annie O'Neill, Post-Gazette
Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year winner Sidney Crosby, right, chats with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl before the Dapper Dan dinner last night.
Click photo for larger image.Annie O'Neill, Post-Gazette
Dapper Dan Sportswoman of the Year winner Swin Cash, left, chats with Pitt basketball player Shavonte Zellous last night.
Click photo for larger image.
Colin Dunlap can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1459.