The Athletic is on the hunt for the top 100 players in NFL history. The countdown has begun and one of the best players to ever wear the blue and white has cracked the list.
Dermontti Dawson spent 13 seasons in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers where he was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, six-time first-team All-Pro, and named to both the NFL 1990’s All-Decade Team and the Pittsburgh Steelers All-Time Team. After playing 184 games in the pros, his career ended in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Listed at No. 99 overall in The Athletic’s countdown, Dawson changed how the center position was played. The Lexington (Ky.) Bryan Station product was a tremendous athlete. The pro offensive lineman could throw a football 70 yards on one knee and also could compete in sprinter events in track and field. However, his work with the shot put and discus had some college folks drooling. However, he stuck with football.
After a few years in the pros, the Steelers experimented with using Dawson as a puller in rushing concepts to get an edge versus defenses. This was something that only guards would do in the past on sweep runs. This changed the game and helped turn Dawson into an all-time in the NFL.
“He redefined the position. … When you look at the numbers we had in the running game, everything we did worked from the inside out, and to have a guy like Dermontti and such stability, that was a staple of every offense we had,” said former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher.
“You never had a center pull until Dermontti Dawson,” said former Steelers running back Merril Hoge. “He revolutionized and changed how teams ran the football in the NFL.”
While at Kentucky, Dawson was a second-team All-SEC selection in 1987 as a senior. The hometown product played both center and guard under head coach Jerry Claiborne. After four years playing for the Wildcats, Dawson was selected in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft by the Steelers with pick No. 44.
The rest is history as Dawson is one of the best players to ever come through the Kentucky football program.