One of two Pitt Panthers to be elected in the Class of 2012 (Chris Doleman being the other), Curtis Martin was one of the sturdiest and most consistent running backs in the NFL over 11 seasons with New England and the New York Jets. Drafted in the third round by the Patriots out of Pitt, Martin was lauded for his slashing running style and his exceptional ability to keep his feet moving forward. Martin started every game 166 of 168 career NFL games and never played fewer than twelve games in 11 career seasons. A powerful and reliable runner, Martin is the oldest player to win an NFL rushing title; he was 31 when ran for 1,697 yards in 2004. The 1995 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, a five-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro selection, Martin is the only NFL running back besides Barry Sanders to rush for over 1,000 yards in his first ten seasons. Martin is the fourth running back in NFL history to retire with over 14,000 career yards and retired as the league's fourth-leading rusher of all-time in 2005.
2 of 6Stephen Dunn/Getty Images; Scott D. Weaver/Icon SMI
Lauded as one of the greatest left tackles of his era, Willie "Nasty" Roaf was a dominant left tackle for New Orleans and Kansas City over 13 NFL seasons. An 11-time Pro Bowl selection and six-time first-team All-Pro, Roaf was selected eighth overall by the Saints out of Louisiana Tech in the 1993 NFL Draft. A masterful run and pass blocker, Roaf was lauded for his balanced skill set and work ethic. In nine seasons with the Saints, Roaf was named to seven Pro Bowls, was named the 1994 and 1995 NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year, and helped pave the way for Ricky Williams' first 1000-yard season in 2000, the same season the Saints won their first playoff game in franchise history. Roaf was often considered to be the best player in Saints history, but Roaf recently admitted that Drew Brees has earned that distinction. When Roaf moved to the Chiefs in 2002, he was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons in Kansas City. A part of one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, Roaf helped running back Priest Holmes lead the NFL in touchdowns in both 2002 and 2003 and Larry Johnson earn a Pro Bowl berth in 2005. Roaf was one of three players named NFL All-Decade team in the 1990s and 2000s.
3 of 6Damian Strohmeyer/SI
A ferocious interior defensive lineman with tremendous instincts and quickness, Cortez Kennedy anchored the Seahawks' defense throughout the 1990s. An eight-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time first-team All-Pro, Kennedy was originally drafted third overall out of the University of Miami in the 1990 NFL Draft. A 1989 All-American with the Hurricanes, Kennedy almost immediately established himself as one of the top defensive linemen in the game. In his third NFL season, Kennedy won the 1992 NFL Defensive Player of the Year even though the Seahawks finished an atrocious 2-14. With remarkable instincts defending the run and tremendous initial quickness attacking the pass, "Tez" finished the 1992 season with 92 tackles, 14 sacks and four forced fumbles, earning him the nickname "Tez for Prez" among his teammates. In a 1992 victory over New England, Kennedy compiled perhaps the best game of his career, terrorizing the Patriots for seven tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles. While 1992 was Kennedy's best season as a pro, he recorded at least six sacks in four other seasons and was one of the top run-stuffers of the 1990s. In 11 NFL seasons, Kennedy missed only seven games, starting every game he played in from 1991 until he retired in 2000. Despite his massive success, Kennedy only played in one playoff game in his career, a 20-17 AFC Wild Card loss to the Miami Dolphins.
4 of 6Richard Mackson/SI
A seven-time Pro Bowler and six-time first-team All-Pro center, Dermontti Dawson replaced a future Hall-of-Famer only to become one himself. Drafted in the second round out of Kentucky in the 1988 NFL Draft, Dawson assumed Mike Webster's starting center position in 1989. No other player would start at center for the Steelers until 1999. Renowned for his leverage and quickness, Dawson earned the nicknamed "Dirt" because of his abilities to pile-drive opposing defensive linemen into the ground. Dawson was named co-AFC Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1993 and NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1996. Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher claimed Dawson "redefined the center position" while Bill Belichick, who coached Cleveland in the early 1990s, lauded his "exceptional quickness." His 170 consecutive games played ranks second in club history. Dawson was named the first-team center on the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team in 2007. Dawson started in three AFC championship games and Super Bowl XXX.
5 of 6Tom Olmscheid/AP
A lightning fast defensive end, Chris Doleman terrorized left tackles for 15 seasons for Minnesota, Atlanta and San Francisco. Drafted fourth overall in the 1985 NFL Draft out of Pitt, Doleman started his career as an outside linebacker before moving to defensive end in 1987. The move served him well. An agile pass rusher with a tremendous burst, Doleman earned his first Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro selections in 1987 after finishing with 11 sacks and six forced fumbles. An eight-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro, Doleman had one of the best seasons for a defensive end in NFL history for a in 1989. Doleman finished with 94 tackles, 21 sacks (one short of Mark Gastineau's single-season record of 22), and five forced fumbles. Even with his spectacular stats, Doleman did not win 1989 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, instead losing to his teammate, defensive tackle Keith Millard. Doleman finished with eight seasons of at least 11 sacks and forced a fumble every year except his rookie season. He would finish his career with 150.5 career sacks, good for fourth on the all-time sack list when he retired.
6 of 6Frank Mastro/Bettmann/Corbis
In a Hall-of-Fame class with its roots in Pittsburgh (Chris Doleman and Curtis Martin played at the University of Pittsburgh while Dermontti Dawson was the best center in Steelers' history), Jack Butler (left) is a throwback to add to the Class of 2012. A Pittsburgh native, Butler was an undrafted free agent the Steelers signed in 1951. Butler would eventually become a four-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time first-team All-Pro in nine seasons with the Steelers. Butler was an elite defensive back and is credited with being an evolutionary cornerback with his ball-hawking skills and leaping abilities. A phenomenal athlete, Butler was occasionally used on offense as a receiver. When Butler retired in 1959, he was second in all-time interceptions.
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