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The 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame were just announced, and the city of Pittsburgh is well represented.

Steeler center Dermontti Dawson, Pitt Panther and Steeler assistant Russ Grimm, and Panther Rickey Jackson are among those with a shot at induction. Steeler DC Dick LeBeau is eligible as a senior nominee. Those eliminated in the cut from 25 to 15 include the Steelers' Kevin Greene and Pitt's Chris Doleman.

Dawson, a 2nd round pick in 1988 out of Kentucky, was a Steeler his entire career, retiring in 2000. He was a member of seven Pro Bowl teams, six AP All-Pro first teams, and the 1990s Team of the Decade. He has reached at least the semi-final round of voting every year since 2005, reaching the final round the last three years. He's never been at the head of his class, but falls into the group of players who should eventually get the call.

Grimm, who hails from nearby Scottdale, PA/Southmoreland HS, was an All-American at Pitt and played 11 seasons in the NFL, all with the Washington Redskins as a member of their "Hogs" offensive line. He was a semifinalist for the Hall in 2004, and a finalist every year from 2005-2010. In his pro career, he was a member of four Pro Bowl squads, three AP All-Pro first teams, and three Super Bowl championships, as well as the 1980's Team of the Decade. He also won a ring with the 2005 Steelers, where he was an assistant from 2000-2006, nearly getting the job in 2007 that Mike Tomlin currently holds.

And as a sidenote, here's a fantastic Grimm story from Mark May:

According to Mark May, a teammate both at Pittsburgh and on the Redskins, no one lived up to the "Hog" persona more than Grimm: "He was a blue collar stiff and proud of it." In his 2005 memoir, May recalled a Christmas party at his house in 1982: "I iced down a keg of beer and stationed it on the landing between the first floor and basement. Russ turned the landing into his headquarters for the evening. He grabbed a chair and a Hog shot glass (a 60-ounce pitcher) and parked his butt on the landing next to the keg. Except for an occasional trip to the bathroom, we didn't see Russ on the first level all night..."
Jackson, a second-team All-American at Pitt, was a 2nd round pick of the Saints in 1981. He was a Saint from 1981-1993, finishing his career in San Francisco where he was a member of their Super Bowl XXIX championship squad. During his NFL career, Jackson was a member of six Pro Bowls and three AP All-Pro first teams. He still leads the Saints in career sacks with 123, and had his number retired by the team.

Jackson was a member of the famed "Dome Patrol" group of linebackers with the Saints, a group that had 20 Pro Bowl appearances among them. The Dome Patrol was rated by NFL Network as the #1 linebacker corps of all-time. It was good, but I'm not sure I'd go that far, showing my obvious hometown bias.

Jackson has four sons: Tyler Rickey Jackson, Rickeem, Rickeyvs, and Rashard. He's not quite George Foreman when it comes to naming kids, but he's pretty close.

Originally drafted by the Browns but cut as a rookie, LeBeau joined the Lions, where he played from 1959-1972 and was a member of three Pro Bowl teams. His 62 interceptions rank 7th all-time.

He started his pro coaching career in 1973 as the special teams coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. Since then, he has made stops in Green Bay, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, back to Cincinnati, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh a second time. He was the head coach of the Bengals from 2000-2002, and is considered the inventor of the zone blitz. That alone should eventually earn him a spot in Canton.

And here's a tidbit about LeBeau that I never knew until today: he can also be seen in the 1970 movie Too Late the Hero, where he played Michael Caine's double in a scene. I guess it's good for the Steelers that his acting career never took off.

Front-runners for this year's class include Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, and Tim Brown. This year's class will be selected by the selection committee the day before Super Bowl 44, which could be a happy day in these parts.

Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith Among Hall of Fame Finalists [FanHouse]

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BURGH08 said...

I don't know why I never read/hear the comparison of Dawson to Dwight Stephenson of the Miami Dolphins. Maybe because I was in Canton when his class was inducted.

Dawson was in more Pro Bowls, All Pro selections, and basically picked up the mantle as best center in the league after Stephenson was injured. Watching the guy pull after snapping the ball and with the effectiveness was beauty.

If there wasn't a wing of Steelers already in Canton, I doubt he would have had to wait this long.

jmarinara said...

The chances of our four guys making it into Canton this year were killed when you typed this sentence:

"Front-runners for this year's class include Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, and Tim Brown."

Yep, right there. It's simply not going to happen this year. The committee members will look at the 4 horseman up there (deserving candidates all) and think adding anyone to it will "ruin the perfection of it" or "bring the class down" or "show a difference in talent and skill" or some other bull. It's STUPID, yes. But this is the way people think.

If I'm wrong, I'll be wrong on LeBeau. There's more than just local interest in seeing him inducted. But trust me, if Lebeau gets in this year, it will be miraculous and no one else has a shot.

The fact that Dawson wasn't a first ballot HOFer is an absolute crime. The guy was the most dominate center in the league at a time when defensive linemen were starting to get HUGE and linebackers loved the double A gap blitz. Also, he ran like a tight end, blocked like a guard, and thought like a quarterback. Dawson suffers from having to take over for Mike Webster. "They already have one great center in the hall, they don't need another one" *rolls eyes*

Truth is; all four of our guys deserve it. Fact is; none will make it.

Sorry fellas.