Tony Dorsett returns to honor Pitt as one of 124 "Hall of Fame" schools

Tony Dorsett hasn’t carried a football for Pitt for 42 years, but he never stopped carrying a torch for his school.

Dorsett, the school’s only Heisman Trophy winner and a member of the 1976 national championship team, returned Saturday. He was seated in the PNC Champions Club in Heinz Field’s south end zone prior to the game against Virginia Tech to present the university with a plaque honoring Pitt as the 124th “official school of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”

Dorsett, who lives in Dallas, likes coming back because, he said, “it’s my alma mater.”

“I have a lot of pride in where I went to school,” he said. “When I get a chance to come back, it’s two-fold. I get a chance to come back to my alma mater. I also get a chance to see a lot of family and friends.”

Dorsett is one of eight Pitt football players to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Only Notre Dame, USC and Ohio State have more.

How did that happen?

“Don’t you know it’s in the water? It’s the water that we drink up here that helps turn out outstanding pro football players,” he said.

Turning serious, he added, “It’s all about the work ethic. We know what it takes to be successful. You have to do the little things. The little things make the big things happen. It gets instilled in you at a very young age.”

As part of the plaque presentation, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Ford Motor Company presented a check for $5,000 to representatives of the Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill, site of the mass shooting that claimed 11 lives Oct. 27.

“It’s so unusual to see something like that happen in Western Pennsylvania,” Dorsett said. “The city is a very strong, very united city. They’ll overcome it, they’ll live through it, they’ll fight through it, they will make what they can out of what has happened. My heart goes out to them.”

Alan Hausman of the Tree of Life spoke briefly, vowing that the 154-year-old Congregation, “will be back and we will be better.”