Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hall of Fame Class of 2012 Announced: Six more to be Inducted into Canton

Earlier this evening the League announced that six players will be inducted in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame at the beginning of August 2012: Running back Curtis Martin, defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, cornerback Jack Butler, center Dermontti Dawson, tackle Willie Roaf and DE/OLB Chris Doleman.

With 17 finalists to choose from, there were plenty left off the final ballot that are well-deserving of a spot in the Hall as well. Wideout Cris Carter, running back Jerome Bettis and head coach Bill Parcells are among the finalists left out. Carter and Bettis, I felt, should have been on the way to Canton this year, but their day is coming soon.

Curtis Martin, 11 years as Patriots/Jets RB

In his second year of eligibility Martin received the call ahead of Pittsburgh's Jerome Bettis, and deservedly so. In just over a decade of professional play, Martin went to five Pro Bowls and racked in 100 total touchdowns (90 rushing, 10 receiving).

Martin is without a doubt one of the most underrated runners in the league's history, retiring as the fourth-leading rusher in history (14,101 yards). Most notably, however, may be the fact that he started less games than two of the three running backs ahead of him on the list (Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton). I'm glad the voters got this one right and chose Martin ahead of Bettis.

Cortez Kennedy, 11 years as Seahawks DT

I wasn't so sure the voters would sway towards voting Kennedy in, but he gets the nod in his seventh year of eligibility. Just like Martin, Kennedy played 11 seasons in the league, racking up 568 tackles, 58 sacks, 11 forced fumbles and 3 INT in 153 starts at D-tackle.

Kennedy, his fourth consecutive year as a finalist, will join wideout Steve Largent as the only two Seahawks to play their entire respective careers in Seattle and be elected to the Hall. Nine of his 11 seasons were Pro Bowl-worthy as he captured the Defensive Player of the Year award in the 1992 season despite his team winning just two games.

I will admit, I didn't really think Kennedy's career was Hall-worthy until I really sat down and thought hard about it. Well-deserved, indeed, Mr. Kennedy.
Dermontti Dawson, 13 years as Steelers C

Dawson had a tough job coming in to the league, having to replace legend and fellow Hall of Famer Mike Webster at center upon his entrance in to the league. Head coach Chuck Noll put Dawson up to the challenge, moving him there in his second season.

Noll did not regret the decision as Dawson went on to start every single game for 10 straight seasons ('89-'98). Throughout his career, Dawson was named seven Pro Bowls and six All Pro teams and was the epitome of consistency on the Steelers' o-line. I actually had the chance to talk with Dawson about a month or so ago and posted it on January 10 (you can check it out in the archives).

Willie Roaf, 13 years as Saints/Chiefs OT

The great thing about Mr. Roaf, who was named to the Pro Bowl in 11 out of 13 of his professional seasons, is that he seemed to have been just as effective in his final couple of seasons as he was in his prime with New Orleans in the late 1990s.

Roaf was named to the All-Decade team for the '90s, and at age 32 left for Kansas City to finish off his HOF career with four Pro Bowl seasons in 58 starts as the team's left tackle. Durability and consistency are key for offensive lineman in this game, and both Dawson and Roaf had exactly that throughout their careers.

Chris Doleman, 15 years as Vikings/49ers/Falcons DE/OLB

Doleman started off his prolonged career in Minnesota, as the fourth overall pick out of Pittsburgh in 1985. He played his first two seasons as the team's LOLB, accumulating 162 tackles and 3.5 sacks. He was then moved to defensive end, and in his first year at the position sacked 11 quarterbacks in just 12 starts.

Doleman went on to record double digits in sacks seven more times in his career, establishing himself as one of the league's dominating pass rushers. His 150.5 career sacks ranks fourth all-time since sacks have become an official stat in 1982. Doleman doesn't receive as much credit as he should, considering he was one of the most dangerous pass rushers of his time.
Jack Butler, 9 years as Steelers DB

Butler, this year's class' senior inductee, is the second of two Steelers in the 2012 HOF class. And, just like Dawson, Butler spent his entire career with the Pittsburgh franchise. Butler's career went from 1951-1959 where he was one of the team's top defensive threats.

His 52 career interceptions was second-most all time during his days (ranks tied for 26th now, along with two other HOFers). Though he intercepted a lot of passes in his 103 games, it was his tackling that may have gotten him over the hump and in to the Hall.

Just missed the cut:

Cris Carter--fourth-most receptions (1,101), eighth-most receiving yards (13,899), fourth-most receiving TDs (130) in 16 NFL seasons w/ PHI, MIN, MIA...eight Pro Bowls, two All Pros.

Jerome Bettis--sixth-most rushing yards (13,662), tied for 10th-most rushing TDs (91) in 13 NFL seasons w/ STL, PIT...six Pro Bowls, two All Pros.

Bill Parcells--172-130 career record in 22 years as NFL head coach (NYG, DAL, NE, NYJ)...two Super Bowl championships, three Super Bowl appearances, eight division championships.

Who's on next year's final ballot?

Carter, Bettis, Parcells, Tim Brown, Andre Reed, Charles Haley, Will Shields

Photo credit
Kennedy: borrowed from Seahawks Blog
Doleman: found on

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