The same guy who got me out of jury duty got me into one of my favorite events.
In 2000, attorney Paul Walsh called to remind me of the first favor and ask for one in return. It didn’t require prodding.
The Pittsburgh Athletic Association hosted a banquet to honor the top high school football players in Western Pennsylvania, and Walsh wanted me to be on the Mercury Award selection committee to pick the player of the year. All he had to entice me was a free steak dinner.
Mercury Award winners include Steve Breaston, Paul Posluszny, Dorin Dickerson, Justin King and Terrelle Pryor. All have played in the NFL, as have finalists Sean Lee, Tyler Palko, A.Q. Shipley and Stefen Wisniewski.
“We are in our 13th year, and it is clear the PAA Mercury Award is a touchstone for future success,” Walsh said of Friday’s event. “Half the winners have gone on to play in the NFL, and for that matter, numerous finalists have as well.”
Tom Bradley, the former Penn State defensive coordinator now at West Virginia, will be the PAA’s Hall of Fame inductee.
Johnny Majors is the host, and guest speakers include Penn State coach James Franklin and new Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi, who should use a platform that Paul Chryst passed up to recruit the five Mercury Award finalists:
South Fayette quarterback Brett Brumbaugh, Pine-Richland quarterback Ben DiNucci, Central Catholic receiver-safety Johnny Petrishen, Central Valley tailback-cornerback Jordan Whitehead — all seniors — and Clairton sophomore tailback-defensive back Lamont Wade.
At the PAA Mercury Awards, past football legends rub elbows with those of the future.
It sure beats jury duty.