NFLPA presents big award to Steelers' Batch

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NEW ORLEANS -- Charlie Batch made himself a promise shortly after his 17-year-old sister, Danyl, was shot in the side of the head and died on a Homestead street 17 years ago, an innocent victim of gang violence.

"At that moment, I said if I was ever in position to give back I would," Batch said Thursday.

He has done that, raising more than $1.2 million to help children in his hometown of Homestead, and Thursday the NFL Players Association added a big, fat tip to help him some more.

The NFLPA awarded the Steelers quarterback its annual Byron "Whizzer" White Award. Not only is it the highest honor the union gives one of its players, it comes with a $100,000 donation to the Best of the Batch Foundation, which the quarterback started in 2000.

The union annually presents the award to a player who is as dedicated off the field as he is on it. The award is named after the former Supreme Court Justice who played for the Steelers in 1938.

It was the second year in a row Batch was a finalist, and it was a good year to win it because it's the first time it came with such a big cash award for charity.

"Wow! This is a truly an unbelievable blessing," Batch said after the announcement at the end of the annual NFLPA Super Bowl news conference at the New Orleans Convention Center.

Batch joins three other Steelers who won the award and is the first to do so in 31 years. He follows Andy Russell (1973), Rocky Bleier (1975) and Franco Harris (1982).

Quarterback Drew Brees won the award last year. The NFLPA has presented the Whizzer White Award since 1967, when Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr earned the first honor.

"You look at the names attached to the award, the history of it, it's special," Batch said.

A Homestead native, Batch's foundation offers programs that directly impact youth in his hometown and surrounding communities.

"We touch over 1,000 kids in a calendar year," Batch said. "We have reading and computer literacy programs in our foundation. We raised over $1.2 million thus far and we continue to keep going. With this money, this is definitely a great start for us to build a state of the art education facility back in Pittsburgh.

"I've never done this for awards. You try to create better opportunities for kids, and to be rewarded for that is special. It's humbling.

"At the same time, we have so many people who believe in what we do throughout Pittsburgh. I can't do this by myself, and that's something that really makes this special because people believe in what my dreams are."

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For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com and Twitter @EdBouchette.


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