Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
The Steelers third-string quarterback has made his entire life about sacrificing for the greater good, with few accolades. On Thursday, he was recognized for his personal investments in the real world.
According to Teresa Varley, of the Pittsburgh Steelers official team website, Charlie Batch has been presented the Byron "Whizzer" White award by the NFL Players Association for his active work in the community.
For the past 12 years, Batch has operated his Best of the Batch foundation in the Pittsburgh area, including his hometown of Homestead. His foundation focuses on education, using sports as a translator. The Best of the Batch foundation offers services to young people, such as literacy programs and summer basketball leagues.
The foundation was established in honor of Batch's younger sister, Danyl Settles, who was gunned down in 1996, caught in the crossfire between rival gangs. Batch made a promise, following her passing, to use his position in life to do his part to prevent inner-city youth from forfeiting themselves - and the innocent lives around them - to needless, violent ends.
"I said if I could ever give back I would," said Batch. "It was a small dream and there was a lot of work that went behind it that I was unaware of at the time. That is when I became more passionate. We are still continuing to add programs and create opportunities for kids. A lot kids don’t know what happened to my sister, but their parents do. They know the story because they lived it.
"It was a way for me to take something negative in my life and turn it into something positive. We continue to go out there and try to push these kids past their expectations in whatever aspect it is. Everybody can make an impact. I try to stress the importance of education, but also returning to your community because you didn’t do it on your own. You had other people help you and you need to give back."
Because of the award, the Best of the Batch Foundation will receive $100,000. Batch expressed his gratitude for the NFLPA's recognition of the strides Batch's foundation was making, and the volunteers who have made those strides possible. Batch said the foundation will use the money to expand and add additional programs.
Batch is also the Steelers United Way spokesperson, participates in many of the team's other charitable events, and plays an active role in the NFL Players Association; however he is best known for what he has been giving to his hometown professional football team since signing with Pittsburgh in 2002. Formerly a starter with the Detroit Lions, Batch signed with the Steelers to backup then starter Tommy Maddox.
When Ben Roethlisberger was drafted in 2004 and won every every single start after replacing an injured Maddox, any hope Batch had of becoming a starter with his new team died silently and unnoticed. However, Batch never pursued free-agent markets, instead remaining in Pittsburgh for a back-ups wages while mentoring Roethlisberger through his early years, liaising between coaches and players during games, and playing solidly when called upon - none more memorable than the loss he helped to hand the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13.
At 38 years of age, Batch played his 15th NFL season in 2012, very possibly his last as a professional. Even if he is able to earn a spot on the roster yet again in 2013, he has already joined the ranks of former Steelers.
"It’s truly an honor to win this," said Batch. "For me to see the past winners names attached, first off it is named after Byron "Whizzer" White, who played for the Steelers, and three former Steelers won it including Andy Russell, Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier. It’s great to be a part of it."
Batch never personally lead a Steelers offense to any Super Bowl championships as a starter, but he will forever be a Pittsburgh legend - a hometown product who played for the hometown team so he could give back to the hometown which produced him in the first place.
No one will ever truly know how many lives are being saved or changed by his efforts, by one man who found an opportunity to make a difference. Charlie Batch is a role model to football players and human beings alike.