INDIANAPOLIS -- Dermontti Dawson was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame tonight and Jerome Bettis was not. The reason: Dawson stood out because he redefined his position.
Dawson, the Steelers' center from 1988 to 2000, had a unique combination of being tough and athletic -- something that had never been seen before at that position. He was durable, playing 170 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in Steelers history. He was also agile enough to get to the outside after snapping the ball and fast enough to get downfield to block safeties.
Dawson becomes the seventh pure center of the modern era to reach the Hall of Fame. But his impact on the position hasn't been an immediately recognized one by the Hall of Fame selectors. This was his eighth year of eligibility.
Playing center was filled with pressure for Dawson. He followed Hall of Fame center Mike Webster, and he outperformed him in many ways. Dawson was named to seven straight Pro Bowls (1992 to 1998) and was a six-time first-team All-Pro.
For Bettis, this is the second straight year that he failed to make the Hall of Fame. He was one of 15 modern day finalists but he didn't make the cutdown to 10 finalists. Bettis ranks sixth all time in the NFL with 13,662 yards rushing. Martin is fourth with 14,101, 439 more yards than Bettis.
The Steelers had a second member in the Hall of Fame Class of 2012 with defensive back Jack Butler. A senior nominee, he was a four-time Pro Bowl player in the 1950s and was named one of the 33 greatest Steelers of all-time in 2008.