My old man doesn't value any position on a football field higher than the center. That's more than likely due to the fact his prominent fan experiences involve watching the Steelers with Mike Webster at the height of his career.
My youngest fan days came with Webster's replacement, Dermontti Dawson, at the position. I was too young to have any context behind the concept of a "pulling center," but my dad spoke glowingly of it.
It wasn't until I started played Madden on Playstation (no numbers, just Playstation) I understood the value of a center who could pull.
I could destroy both human and computer opponents with the simple two-gap pull play Dawson would have, with Tim Lester running right behind him, leading Jerome Bettis into the hole. My friends would get pissed, saying all I ever did was just run Bettis. I'd say, "It's not so much me as it is Dermontti. He calls the plays, we do what he wants to do, and he wants to run the ball."
My dad has authentic Webster and Dawson jerseys, and is excited about Maurkice Pouncey.
A little bit into his career, I started noticing former Vikings C Matt Birk pulling here and there. Then Jets C Nick Mangold. Most every team is able to employ a pulling center to some extent.
If not for Dawson mentioning to Steelers offensive coordinator Ron Erhardt and head coach Bill Cowher during a preseason game against Philadelphia, the concept maybe never would have been tried. Uber-athletic interior offensive linemen like Pouncey and Mangold may never have been centers.
Even if the Hall of Fame takes a decade to put in one of the game's greatest offensive linemen, and most recent example of strategic innovation, it doesn't take away from how truly remarkable of a player Dawson was.
His Hall of Fame speech was on-point, and he still looked like he could put a helmet on and destroy a linebacker.
I've been waiting a long time for Dawson to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, mostly because of his impact on the game is still apparent and evolving each day. The world seems a little righter today.