This week could be a great one for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Obviously the six-time Super Bowl champs are gunning for Lombardi No. 7 when they play the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in Super Bowl XLV. The Steelers already hold the record for most SB titles, but Steeler Nation seems just as eager to see Pittsburgh extend its lead as it was back in '08 when the Steelers were on the verge of winning their record-setting sixth title.
Super Bowl glory is not the only prize to be had though. The Steelers could also see their 21st member elected as a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee. Legendary center Dermontti Dawson is again a Finalist for the highest of individual honors, and some believe that this is finally the year the Dawson will earn his well-deserved enshrinement in Canton.
Dawson was drafted by the Steelers in the 2nd round of the 1988 Draft. The timing of his arrival in Pittsburgh was impeccable. As a rookie, the University of Kentucky product got a chance to learn alongside Hall of Famer Mike Webster, who was playing his final year in Pittsburgh before finishing moving on to Kansas City where he'd play two final seasons before retiring. Dawson took over the starting duties at center the next year following Webster's retirement, and would play a big role in helping the Steelers make a surprise run to the Divisional Round of the '89 playoffs.
In '92, Bill Cowher's first year at the helm, Dawson earned Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his career. He must have enjoyed his time in Hawaii quite a bit that year, because he succeeded at making it back to Honolulu for the next six years as well. After that '92 season, Dawson's consistency and dominate play at cetner became well known around the league. He made six consecutive 1st Team All Pro appearances from '93 to '98.
Dawson would hang around for the '99 and '00 seasons, but injuries finally slowed down the 34-35 year old Kentuckian. It was in '99 that Dawson saw his absolutely mind-boggling streak of consecutive games streak snapped. From his rookie season until '99, Dawson had suited up and started in 170 straight games. Incredible.
So, while we wait for Sunday, let's all hope the weekend starts off with a nugget of good news: that legendary center and all-around nice guy, Dermontti Dawson, earns the necessary votes to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame later this summer.
I've included a few excerpts from Dawson's recent interview on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh. As you'll hear, Dawson -- who is famous for his unwaveringly nice demeanor -- seems more excited about the Steelers' upcoming SB appearance than he is about his HOF chances. Also take note of how he mentions texting with Maurkice Pouncey on a regular basis. Interesting stuff.
On what's going through his mind this week as he waits to hear if he'll be inducted into the Hall of Fame:
"Well hey guys, it's a great honor to be a Finalist again. For me, I really don't stress too much about it, because you just really don't know. It's out of my control, so I really don't worry about whether or not I'm chosen or not. I really don't have any expectations because every year it changes with the new inductees or Finalists. So hey, if it happens it happens, and if it doesn't it doesn't, and I'll just wait."
On what it would mean for him to be inducted:
"Well that's the ultimate reward or award for individual play -- being enshrined in the Hall of Fame in Canton. You work your tail off each and every year to improve, and that is the ultimate goal for any NFL player to be inducted to the Hall of Fame."
On the injury to rookie center Maurkice Pouncey and his thoughts on Pouncey's outstanding play this year:
"Well I'll tell you what, he had an excellent year coming in as a rookie and becoming the starter. He's had a tremendous effect on the Steelers' offensive line as well, and he's played exceptionally well. I get a lot of calls from people in Pittsburgh and they say, 'man, that boy looks just like you on the field.' And that's a great compliment as well. But Maurkice, we text one another and we've been texting each other throughout the year, and I kind of encourage him. When he was hurt the last game in the AFC Championship Game, I was hoping it wasn't going to be serious where he was going to be able to play. So we talked, and he told me what happened to him and that he might not get a chance to play. And I feel sorry for him because I told him you work your tail off the whole entire season and you get hurt in the AFC Championship Gmae, and now you don't get a chance to play in the Granddaddy of them all, the Super Bowl. And he's an outstanding center, and I tell you what, he's going to be a good center for a long time."
On his impressions of the job that the Steelers patchwork offensive line has done this year under tough circumstances:
"Yeah, that's the good thing about Pittsburgh. The offensive line has had some problems throughout the year but you look where they are, they've started to jell a little bit more. You've got a few breakdowns here and there, but that's normal. The defense is getting paid to play as well. But overall they've done a great job and I'm just hoping in the Super Bowl they all come together and are able to pull it off."