Reporting Jory Rand
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — By the time the announcement finally came, Dermontti Dawson was about to give up on another year of Hall of Fame eligibility.
“When it got close to the three o’clock,” he says, “I said, ‘Well, apparently I didn’t make it.’
“So I was about to go hit golf balls. Then when my name was called I was like ‘Holy moly!’ I kind of was in shock a little bit.”
Weeks later, the shock has yet to subside. He still has trouble calling himself a Hall of Famer.
“It really hasn’t had time to sink in,” he said. “I’ve been signing everything, ‘HOF 2012,’ but, you know, it will sink in sooner or later.”
Dawson’s disbelief is likely the same kind he gets when he thinks back to the beginning of his Steelers career.
“I ended up starting a few games my rookie year at guard and then after my rookie season, Coach Noll came up to me and asked me to switch to center,” he says.
“I never could have imagined that my career would’ve turned out the way it did. It’s almost like a storybook and a dream come true.”
Dawson played 13 seasons with the Steelers, making 7 Pro Bowls, and 6 All Pro teams. He looked even further back in his football history to choose his Hall of Fame presenter. And he went with the man whom he credits with getting him to play football in the first place — his high school coach Steve Parker.
“Steve Parker was instrumental,” Dawson says. “He was the one who came up to me in the hallway in high school and said, ‘Son, where have you been all my life?’
“And he knew I wrestled and ran track and if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have went out for football.”
That’s how close it came to the world never knowing Dermontti Dawson as one of the best centers of all time, one of the nicest people of all time and another in a long line of deserving Pittsburgh Steelers heading to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“It’s a big honor,” Dawson says. “And really, being enshrined in the Hall of Fame is the pinnacle of any NFL players’ career.”
And he’s ready to don that gold jacket that those who are enshrined in Canton, Ohio, get to wear.
“I’ll look good in any color,” Dawson says with a laugh. “I don’t care what color the jacket is. I’ll take it.”