One of the highlights of any Super Bowl week is the introduction of that year‚Äôs Hall of Fame class. Recently, the NFL announced the distinguished HOF class of 2012.
Curtis Martin, Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Willie Roaf, Dermontti Dawson, and senior selection Jack Butler were all named to a class that will be known as the linemen‚Äôs class, with four of the inductees (Doleman, Kennedy, Roaf and Dawson) being offensive or defensive linemen.
Martin rushed for 1,000 yards in each of his first 10 NFL seasons. He retired as the game’s fourth all-time leading rusher with 14,101 yards and had 90 rushing touchdowns.
Doleman racked up 150.5 career sacks in his 15-season career which ranked fourth all-time when he retired. He had 10 or more sacks in a season eight times.
Kennedy, the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1992, earned eight Pro Bowl berths and was named first-team All-Pro three straight seasons. He was also named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s.
Roaf, a seven-time, first-team All-NFL choice, starred for nine seasons with the New Orleans Saints and four years with the Kansas City Chiefs. In all, he played in 189 career games and was voted to 11 Pro Bowls.
Dawson, a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s, was named to the Pro Bowl seven straight seasons and was an All-Pro selection six consecutive years. The NFL Alumni’s Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1996, Dawson played in 184 career games for the Steelers.
Butler, a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1950s, intercepted 52 passes, four of which he returned for scores, in his nine-season career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The inductees were pleased when they received the notice that the Hall of Fame was calling their name.
“It’s a great honor to be selected to the Class of 2012 in the Hall of Fame,” Dawson said. “It’s caused my phone to malfunction. I’ve had over 100 texts and phone calls. It’s been non-stop, but it’s a good thing.”
‚ÄúI’m blown away by it ‚Äď I really am,‚ÄĚ former Viking Doleman told NFL Network’s Fran Charles. ‚ÄúThis is just a big surprise. I couldn’t have asked for a better day, and it couldn’t have happened in a better way. I watched it with my family here, cousins, aunts, and uncles and it was just wonderful.‚ÄĚ
For Jack Butler, the oldest inductee (84), who starred in the ‚Äė50s, the Hall of Fame invitation was validation of his ability during an era that received significantly less fanfare than today‚Äôs game.
‚ÄúI never thought it would happen, but here I am!‚ÄĚ Butler said. ‚ÄúI never, ever thought I would be here. I just didn’t think this was reality. When I was a kid, I dreamed about being a football player and here I am, Jack Butler from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, going into the Hall of Fame. I can’t believe it.‚ÄĚ
There was also a level of disappointment at many of the popular players and coaches that were waiting for a call that never came. Most notable in that group ‚Äď two-time Super Bowl winning coach Bill Parcells, Steeler running back Jerome Bettis, five-time Super Bowl winning defensive lineman Charles Haley and former Viking receiver Chris Carter.
‚ÄúIt almost caught me off guard,‚ÄĚ Martin said. ‚ÄúThe bittersweet part about it is Parcells. Without him, my career wasn’t even 30 percent of what it was. He taught me not only how to be a professional, a professional athlete, but he also had a lot to do with teaching me how to be a man.‚ÄĚ
The 2012 class will be formally enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 4. The ceremony takes place at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio.