Dermontti Dawson, the legendary center who anchored the the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line from 1988 until his retirement in 2000, has begun his interim stint on Marvin Lewis' coaching staff in Cincinnati. Dawson, a 7-time Pro Bowler and 6-time All Pro during his famed career as the Steelers center, began his three month stint on the Bengals' staff during the team's recent rookie mini-camp. Dawson is scheduled to remain on staff with the Bengals through training camp. Though there may not be a spot for him on the full time staff of the Bengals in 2010, it's a matter of when, not if, before Dawson is entrusted with the primary coaching duties of an NFL offensive line. That is, if he enjoys himself this summer and remains interested in pursuing a career in the coaching profession.
Dawson and Lewis' relationship extends back nearly twenty years to when Lewis joined the Steelers coaching staff in 1992 as a linebackers coach. Lewis explained his interest in having Dawson join his staff:
"Here's a guy who was a very talented overachiever, and who, as talented as he was, he was the hardest working guy there," Lewis said. "I told him we were going to use the hell out of him and to mentor both our center and young guys who are here and our first-round pick (tackle Andre Smith) from a year ago."
Dawson, always humble and cognizant of what's going on around him, talked about how he hoped to leave his mark on the Bengals' offensive line while not interfering with what Cincinnati's O-Line coach, Paul Alexander, is trying to do as the man in charge of the unit:
"I have to be careful of saying how I did it because I want to follow (offensive line coach) Paul's (Alexander) example," Dawson said. "I'm hoping to be a great influence on the younger guys. They know your history."
Even though this is far from the first time that a Steelers great has jumped rank from Pittsburgh to a rival team, I wish him all the best as he embarks on the next chapter of his career in the NFL. If nothing else, Dawson's return to the NFL hopefully keeps his name fresh in the minds of Hall of Fame voters. After narrowly missing out on induction into Canton the last two years (he was named a finalist both years), Dawson will someday soon be remembered fr his remarkable playing career with the black 'n gold.
Until then, God speed to one of the Steelers - and the NFL's - all time great centers!