Pittsburgh, PA —
Super Bowl weekend was an exciting time, especially when news came out regarding who would be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as the Class of 2012. Jack Butler, long deserving of the honor, was selected, as was long-time guard and center for the Steelers, Dermontti Dawson. Jerome Bettis (running back for the Steelers) and Kevin Greene were not selected, even though they were finalists. With Dawson and Butler enshrined, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a total of twenty players in Canton, Ohio. Dawson and Butler will join the other members of the Class of 2012 at the induction ceremony on Sat., Aug. 4, 2012. The Class of 2012 is special in another way; it marks the 50th class to be elected into the Hall.
After being nominated by the Hall of Fame’s Seniors Committee, a group that reviews the qualifications of players whose careers took place over 25 years ago, Butler was honored with enshrinement. It was a long time coming, but well-deserved. Butler’s 50.5 interception percentage is the best of any player currently in the Hall of Fame. Butler said, “The best pass defense is the respect of the receivers…if they know they’re going to get hit…they’re not so relaxed catching it.” During those twenty five years, Butler’s peers openly shared their opinion on his greatness as a football player, his accomplishments and the fact that he should have been enshrined years ago. It took 48 years after he first became eligible for Butler to join the fellow elite into the Hall.
According to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ official website, Don Joyce (an NFL defensive end) wrote a letter to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Butler’s behalf. A portion of it included what Joyce felt were Jack’s brilliant moments. “Jack Butler personified [the 1950s era],” Joyce said. “I have played with many Hall of Fame players and worked for Hall of Fame coaches…In my 12 years playing, I know who belongs in that Hall of Fame building…Jack Butler.”
Jack Butler and Dick “Night Train” Lane were the only two cornerbacks to be selected to the NFL’s Team of the Decade. Joining them on the offensive side of that team were Frank Gifford, Lenny Moore, Raymond Berry, Ollie Matson, Tom Fears and Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch. Those names will long be synonymous with the greatest players in National Football League history.
Dawson was a second-round draft pick by the Steelers in 1988. Although selected as a guard, Dawson filled a position long-held by center Mike Webster. Dawson is only the twelfth center to ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He joins Chuck Bednarik, Frank Gatski, Mel Hein, Jim Langer, Jim Otto, Jim Ringo, Dwight Stephenson, George Trafton, Alex Wojciechowicz, Clyde “Bulldog” Turner and fellow teammate Mike Webster. Dawson held a streak of 170 back-to-back games, but was best known for being able to athletically block and pull after the snap. During his career (1988-2000), Pittsburgh amassed 26,795 rushing yards as a team (regular season). It was the second most rushing yards a team posted during that time.
Dawson came close to being enshrined prior to the Class of 2012 by being named a finalist three times, only to see his name left off the final list. ESPN analyst and former Steelers running back Merril Hoge said, “You never had a center pull until Dermontti Dawson. He revolutionized and changed how teams ran the football in the NFL.”
Dawson was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and a first-team All-Pro six times. Named the the NFL’s Team of the Decade for the 1990s, Dawson was recognized for his unique abilities at his position. Steelers tackle Tunch Ilkin said that Dawson had explosuive strength and athleticism, something that is rare in an NFL center. “[Dawson] was strong enough to just absorb a 320-pound nose tackle and not give ground,” Ilkin insisted.
With the quality of these two players and the storied history of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pro Football Hall of Fame may need to add an extra wing in Canton just for the team. Undoubtedly, Bettis and Greene will receive nods in the future, and there are several Steelers players who can, and most likely will, be added to that list in the next few years.
After I wrote the article about Jack Butler, his son Tim, a District Manager in Pittsburgh for Medtronic CRDM, contacted me about his father. Previous information that Jack was not in good health was corrected, as Jack is in much better spirits these days. Tim Butler said that the family was looking forward the the enshrinement announcement and that the family would be watching NFL Network live. I want to personally thank Tim for his response to the article and to congratulate both Jack and Dermontti on their selection(s) into the Hall of Fame. Both men are so deserving of the honor. It has been my honor to cover their success.
Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2012 inductees
- Jack Butler (cornerback)
- Dermontti Dawson (center)
- Chris Doleman (defensive end/linebacker)
- Cortez Kennedy (defensive tackle)
- Curtis Martin (running back)
- Willie Roaf (tackle)
Video: Pro Football Hall of Fame names inductees
Subscribe to get instant updates on the Pittsburgh Steelers on modenook.com
Are you on Facebook? Friend Pittsburgh Steelers Examiner Christina to talk Steelers.
To email Christina click here.
Twitter and re-Tweet this article by following @3Rivers_Writer
Read other Steelers news from Pittsburgh Sports Examiner, Matt Pawlikowski
NFL EXAMINERS ON FACEBOOK
AFC NORTH EXAMINERS ON FACEBOOK
‘THE BEAM’ in Pittsburgh
Get news on other NFL teams and football on modenook.com