Hall of Fame honors Post-Gazette Steelers reporter Ed Bouchette

CANTON, Ohio -- The first indication it was going to be a special weekend for Ed Bouchette came when he was assigned a driver to take him wherever he wanted to go for three days during the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement festivities.

But there was no destination he enjoyed being chauffeured to more than Fawcett Stadium, where he shared the stage and a bit of the spotlight Saturday night with the Class of 2014 and some of the players he helped vote into the Hall of Fame.

Bouchette, who has covered the Steelers for 30 years for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, received the Dick McCann Award at the beginning of the enshrinement ceremonies, getting a few "boos" from some of the gold-jacketed Hall of Famers on stage, including the former Steelers great whose jersey was recently retired -- Joe Greene.

"I think they were doing that for my last name," Bouchette said. "At least I think so."

The McCann Award is voted on by members of the Pro Football Writers Association of America and given to a writer for long and distinguished reporting on professional football. It is named in honor of McCann, who was the first director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The list of McCann honorees -- 45 in all since 1969 -- is sometimes referred to as the "writer's wing" of the Hall of Fame, even though there is no actual area.

But Bouchette said he felt like a Hall of Famer after the way he was treated during the three days of festivities.

"The whole weekend was great, they treated me great. They went out of their way to make it a nice weekend. It culminated with Dave Baker presenting me with the award," Bouchette said, referring to the Hall of Fame president and executive director.

He added: "It's a little humbling, the whole thing. When you see all the names on that list, it was nice to be on it."

Bouchette is the second writer from a Pittsburgh newspaper to receive the McCann Award, joining Pat Livingston of The Pittsburgh Press, who was honored in 1979. Two other sports writers who formerly worked in Pittsburgh -- Vito Stellino (1989) and John Clayton (2007) -- received the award after they left their respective papers.

"Post-Gazette readers didn't need a Hall of Fame to tell them that they had a special correspondent in Ed Bouchette," said Post-Gazette executive editor David Shribman, who attended the induction ceremonies and visited with Bouchette and his family before he received the award. "But it's always special to have a correspondent like Ed recognized by the Hall of Fame."

Greene, Mel Blount, Lynn Swann and Dermontti Dawson were among the former Steelers and Hall of Famers who were on stage when Bouchette was presented his award. They were also a few of the many players he has covered in his 30 years on the Steelers beat for the Post-Gazette.

But Bouchette didn't just cover those players; he has been a selector for the Hall of Fame for 20 years and helped several of them get elected.

"I talked to Joe backstage and he congratulated me," Bouchette said. "I saw Dan Rooney the other night at the dinner and I got to see Dermontti. It was a wonderful weekend."

Bouchette joined the Post-Gazette in 1983 and covered the Steelers as his main beat for the paper since 1985. Previously, he worked for the Tribune-Review in Greensburg, McKeesport Daily News, Indiana Gazette, York Dispatch and the Doylestown Daily Intelligencer -- all papers in Pennsylvania.

Before he was introduced to the crowd at Fawcett Stadium, a video of Bouchette played on the giant video screens on each side of the stage. During the video, Bouchette said the favorite of the 30 Super Bowls he has covered in his career came in February 2009, when the Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals on Ben Roethlisberger's throw and Santonio Holmes' acrobatic catch in the corner of the end zone in the final seconds.

One of his most memorable professional moments came in 1991 when he covered the final news conference of the late Chuck Noll, who announced he was retiring as head coach.

Toward the end of the news conference, Noll said the lasting lesson he wanted to impart was, "Don't leave anything on the beach but footprints." Bouchette used that quote to set up his ending in the story he wrote for the Post-Gazette.

"He walked briskly down the hall, pulling on his black overcoat," Bouchette said on the video, recalling the words he wrote. "He never glanced at the four Super Bowl trophies as he walked out the door.

"Those are Chuck Noll's footprints."

Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com; Twitter @gerrydulac.

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