Bethesda, Md. -- The DC Touchdown Club’s third annual Awards Dinner took guests on a trip down memory lane on Thursday night as Super Bowl winning quarterback Joe Theismann, the architect of the Chicago Bears 1980s dynasty Mike Ditka and legendary local coach Roy Lester regaled a near-capacity crowd with stories from yesteryear.
“What a night,” DC Touchdown Club Executive Director Steve Beck said. “It was simply awesome to look around the room and see so many faces that are familiar to football fans.”
The crowd included several former Timmie Award winners, three Medal of Honor recipients, former Washington Redskins stars and former Redskins coach Richie Petitbon, who was Ditka’s teammate with the Bears in the 1960s. Petitbon was on hand to see his grandson, also Richie Petitbon, honored as the D.C. High School Player of the Year.
Following a VIP reception and cocktail reception, the program began with a Career Achievement Award for Theismann, who led the Redskins to a victory in Super Bowl XVII and has since forged a successful career as a broadcaster and businessman.
“You look around at the players who are here and many people look at us as heroes,” Theismann said. “But the Medal of Honor recipients here are the real heroes. We are just men who are fortunate to have an athletic talent.”
After dinner, emcee Doc Walker – Theismann’s former Redskins’ teammate – presented the local award winners: Petitbon, Maryland High School Player of the Year Isaiah Prince of Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Virginia High School Player of the Year Noah Reimers of Tuscarora High School in Leesburg and Washington Metro High School Coach of the Year Mike Neubeiser of Northwest High School in Germantown.
University of Maryland football coach Randy Edsall introduced the Washington Metro College Player of the Year, Terrapins kicker Brad Craddock.
“He is the unquestioned leader of our team,” Edsall said.
Then it was time for the stars of the show. Lester, who had six undefeated teams at Richard Montgomery High School and led Magruder High and Paint Branch High to Maryland state championships, credited his success to hard work and being fortunate enough to have talented players.
“That was luck,” Lester said.
Ditka, the legendary Bears players and coach, scanned the room for his former teammate Petitbon, then remarked what a player Petitbon had been. While he is best remembered for his tenure coaching with the Redskins, Ditka remembered Petitbon had started at safety when the Bears won the NFL championship in 1963.
“I love people who compete,” Ditka said. “And he was a fierce competitor.”
The evening wrapped up with a surprise Bill Phillips Memorial Fund grant presented to Hospital Corpsman Third Class Ken Swartz. Severely injured by an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan in October 2010, Petty Officer Swartz is now a full-time student at Georgetown University. While he is busy with schoolwork, he continues to give his time and is actively involved in local wounded warrior events and activities.
The DC Touchdown Club’s next event is the DC Touchdown Club Golf Outing presented by Capital Bank N.A., benefiting the Bill Phillips Memorial Fund, on June 12 at Raspberry Falls Golf and Hunt Club in Leesburg, Va. For more information or to reserve a place in the tournament, please visit dctouchdownclub.com/golfouting.