First down and life to go…Steelers players treat Perry athletes to dinner

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When one generally thinks of Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jonathan Dwyer, the visual usually consists of him busting through the line of scrimmage on a successful running play. When outside linebacker Chris Carter comes to mind that usually means that he will be chasing down an opposing running back from behind or sending an unsuspecting quarterback to an unscheduled visit to the “bone” doctor.

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Chris Carter, far left, Perry Team, and Jonathan Dwyer 2nd from far right (Courier Photos/Rossano Paul Stewart)

However there is more to these two young Pittsburgh Steelers standouts than meets the eye. Recently Dwyer & Carter took time out of their hectic schedules to take a few student/athletes from Perry Traditional Academy’s football team to a sit down dinner at Capital Grille in Pittsburgh. The outing was complete with luxury transportation to and from the restaurant, a four course meal, and a mentoring session with two of their favorite Steelers players. Jonathan and Chris joined together on a mission of rewarding the team for their achievements on and off the field, while encouraging the young men to excel in all areas of their lives.

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Perry placekicker Cornelio Coates

In these days of bling and look at me, me, me it is encouraging to see young successful professional athletes early on who care about those in the community who are far less fortunate. On this night Chris Carter spoke eloquently about how the partnership to encourage and influence young inner-city athletes came about. “Me and John got together mainly because we both had the same agent. We spend a lot of time together during the season and the off season. It seemed like a real good idea to give back to the community. There seemed to be a lot of kids in Pittsburgh that needed some guidance. The more that I was out here I started to notice the number of bright kids that needed help and I thought; why not? The reason that we chose Perry was that Mike Marchinsky was one of the team’s [Steelers] managers. He’s been telling us a lot about them, the players, the coaches and the really good staff there. A lot of these kids have good heads on their shoulders. All they need is a little guidance. They kind of remind me of a little bit of myself when I was their age. There were not many programs like this when I was young. Growing up in L.A. I didn’t have an opportunity to meet any professional athletes. I didn’t meet anyone from the NFL until I was in college.”

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Perry Head Coach Bill Gallagher and Mike Marchinsky, Steelers Youth Football/Marketing Manager

At that very moment the servers at the Capital Grille served the young athletes some of the largest King Crab legs that I have ever seen. Also at that time, they informed the kids of the various steak and chicken combinations available to them to delight almost every gastronomical fantasy within the arsenal of their imaginations. Mike Marchinsky looked around the room and remarked that; “This is such a good event for the kids and can be a motivator for them to do great things”

Perry placekicker Cornelio Coates was probably the most unlikely participant because Coates doesn’t even go to Perry and became the team’s kicker only a week before the city championship game. He kicked a 27-yard field goal in overtime to give Perry the 9-6 victory against University Prep at Cupples.

Perry Head Coach Bill Gallagher also seemed a bit surprised at how the game ended saying; “over the course of the season, we were probably 3 of 50 in extra points so [I wasn’t really] confident in the outcome.”

It was a great evening for all who attended. It also gave everyone a good feeling to see a couple of young gifted professional athletes less concerned about making or preventing a third down on the gridiron but instead chose to focus on mentoring and guiding the possible leaders of the future. On this night Jonathan Dwyer and Chris Carter were helping those far less fortunate than them; “move the chains in life.”

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