A year ago, the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony was loaded with outspoken players with Hall of Fame personalities. Marshall Faulk, Shannon Sharpe, and Deion Sanders, all blessed with the gift of gab spoke charismatically about their gifts on the field and their ability to entertain off of it.
Deion Sanders spoke about paying his mother’s bills. Marshall Faulk talked about selling popcorn in the Superdome just to be close to the game as a kid. Shannon Sharpe cried when he talked about his brother Sterling and the injury that kept him out of the Hall of Fame.
We cant forget Richard Dent, Chris Hanburger, Les Richter, and the great Steve Sabol all of whom rounded out one of the most glamorous classes in the History of the Hall of Fame,
This year is different. The class of 2012 is loaded with players who got it done week after week without saying much about it. They showed up, did their jobs, and rarely bragged to the media about it. This class is filled with players would always be considered underrated before overrated.
Here is a look at the Class of 2012:
Curtis Martin, Jets and Patriots
Presenter: Bill Parcells (Coach)
I have heard more than a few people say, “Curtis Martin is a Hall of Famer?” Those are the people who haven’t taken the time to look back on his ridiculous numbers. Martin literally never had a bad season.
He started his career in 1995 with a 30-yard rush on his first play in the National Football League. That season he was named the NFL’s Rookie of the Year.
Martin was an asset running the ball and receiving. He gained over 14,000 all-purpose yards and even threw two passes, both caught for touchdowns.
In 2004, Martin became the oldest player to ever win the rushing title. At age 31, he finished the season with a career best 1,697 yards. In his career he scored exactly 100 touchdowns.
Willie Roaf, Saints and Chiefs
Presenter: Clifton Roaf (Father)
In the early 1990’s the New Orleans Saints were lead by four linebackers that we known in the French Quarter as the Dome Patrol. The group featured Rickey Jackson (Class of 2010) and Pat Swilling on the outside. Sam Mills and Vaughn Johnson patrolled the middle. These guys were the toast of the town for years and probably never paid for a drink during Mardi Gras.
On the eve before the 1993 draft, the Saints broke up the Dome Patrol. Pat Swilling was traded to Detroit for the 8th pick in the draft. New Orleans was stunned. With the pick, the Saints selected Willie Roaf, a giant offensive tackle from nearby Louisiana Tech.
Roaf didn’t disappoint, going on to have what many consider the greatest career in Saints history (until Drew Brees came along). As a rookie, Roaf didn’t miss a snap, was named to the Pro Bowl, and was the NFC Offensive lineman of the season.
Roaf was named to the NFL’s all-decade team of the 1990’s and the 2000’s. He is one of only 13 position players to be named to multiple all-decade teams.
Roaf was named a Pro Bowl player 11 times and was a member of the first-team All Pro three times. In his 13 NFL seasons he only missed 19 games.
In 2007, Roaf was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Cortez Kennedy, Seahawks
Presenter: Dixie Fraley Keller (Widow of his agent Robert Fraley)
Kennedy played all eleven of his NFL seasons for the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks drafted Kennedy with the third pick of the 1990 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami.
Kennedy was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1992, the year in which he sacked the quarterback fourteen times and forced 4 fumbles.
Kennedy was named to the Pro Bowl 8 times and was a member of the NFL’s first-team All Pro 3 times. He retired with 58 carer sacks.
In 2006, he became the 10th player inducted into the Seahawks Ring of Honor. He is also a member of the University of Miami’s Ring of Honor and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Chris Doleman, Vikings, Falcons, 49ers
Presenter: Evan Doleman (Son)
Doleman was the fourth pick of the 1985 NFL Draft and spent the first 9 years of career with the Minnesota Vikings. In 1989, he led the league with twenty-one sacks, just one shy of the record at the time.
Doleman played on 8 Pro Bowl teams and was a member of the NFL’s first-team All Pro in 1989 and 1992. Doleman was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1990’s.
Although being known mostly for his ability to rush the passer, he also finished his career with eight interception—two of which he returned for touchdowns—recorded two safeties, and scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery in the end zone. Doleman also forced 44 fumbles during his 232-game career.
Dermontti Dawson, Steelers
Presenter: Steve Parker (High School Coach)
During the 1988 NFL Draft, every team in the league passed on this future Hall of Famer at least one time before the Steelers selected him 44th overall. Dawson spent his entire 13 year season with the Steelers.
Dawson is a 7 time Pro Bowler and is a 6 time member of the NFL’s first-team All Pro. He started 181 games including a stretch of 170 consecutive games between 1988 and 1998. Dawson played in 13 playoff games for the Steelers and appeared in the 1995 Super Bowl. Dawson was also a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s.
Dawson was the last active player to be able to say he played for both Chuck Knoll and Bill Cowher. Since 1969, the Steelers have had only three coaches (Knoll, Cowher, and Mike Tomlin).
Jack Butler, Steelers
Presenter: John Butler (Son)
Butler is being enshrined in the Hall via his selection by the Veteran’s Committee.
Butler never played high school football, and only gave it a try after he was encouraged by the athletic director at St. Bonaventure.
He went undrafted in 1951 before being signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Steelers’ owner Art Rooney’s brother was the athletic director at St. Bonaventure who encouraged Butler to play football. He is the 15th undrafted player to be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is the first Bonaventure alumnus to make it.
Butler made four Pro Bowls and was a member of the NFL’s first-team All Pro three times.
All of the players will inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame tonight during a ceremony that will air on ESPN and the NFL Network at 7:00 PM EST.
For more information on the player and the hall please visit their website at http://www.profootballhof.com
The Saints and Cardinals will play the annual Hall of Fame game Sunday at 8:00 PM EST. The game will air on the NFL Network. ProPlayerInsiders will be live tweeting the game from out twitter account @PlayerInsiders.