Just imagine if the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2012 split up into teams of three to participate in a running and tackling drill. RB Curtis Martin would run behind C Dermontti Dawson and OT Willie Roaf, trying to reach the endzone, with DT Cortez Kennedy, DE Chris Doleman and CB Jack Butler trying to stop him. Who would have the edge?
The offensive side has the fourth-leading rusher in NFL history carrying the ball, not to mention two blockers who were mainstays on All-Pro teams throughout their careers leading the way. Though they weren’t flashy, all three players were among the best at their positions to ever play.
The defensive side is pretty good too. Not only does it have the player who is fourth all-time in sacks, but he’s paired next to a mountain of a tackle who manhandled opponents during his time in the league, and a hard-hitting safety who loved to come up and play the run.
Unfortunately, the drill will never take place, and there’s no way to know who would win. But here’s a rundown of the accomplishments of all six players who will be recognized when they are enshrined into the Hall on Saturday in Canton, Ohio.
Pittsburgh Steelers / 1951-59
The facts: Born Nov. 12, 1927, in Pittsburgh, Pa. ... Signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent following a collegiate career at St. Bonaventure. ... Was an instant contributor to the Steelers’ defense, intercepting five passes as a rookie in ’51. ... Continued to improve as his career progressed, leading the team in interceptions with seven during his second season and nine in ’53. ... Butler tied an NFL record with four interceptions in a game in ’53 vs. the Redskins. ... Tied for the league lead in interceptions in ’57 with 10. ... Reached the Pro Bowl every season from 1955-58. ... Was a three-time All-Pro selection, earning the honor in 1957, ’58 and ’59. ... Returned four interceptions, and one fumble, for touchdowns during his career. ... Also added four touchdown receptions as a wide receiver during his career. ... Retired following the ’59 season after suffering a leg injury in a game vs. the Eagles. ... Butler stepped away from the game with 52 career interceptions, which at the time of his retirement was second all-time, trailing only fellow Hall of Famer Emlen Tunnell. ... Currently is tied for 26th on the league’s all-time interception list. ... Named to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1950s. ... Was named to the Steelers’ 50th and 75th Anniversary teams. ... Butler is second on Pittsburgh’s all-time interception list, trailing only Hall of Famer Mel Blount, who had 57 picks in his career. ... Upon retirement, spent 44 years as the director of the BLESTO Scouting Combine, one of the country’s first college scouting services. ... Voted into the Hall of Fame as a selection of the Hall’s Veterans’ Committee.
Pittsburgh Steelers / 1988-2000
The facts: Born June 17, 1965, in Lexington, Ky. ... A second-round pick by the Steelers out of Kentucky in the 1988 draft. ... Played in eight games at right guard as a rookie, but missed time down the stretch of the season because of a knee injury. ... In ’89, Dawson replaced Hall of Famer Mike Webster as the Steelers’ center and never looked back. ... Started all 16 games each year from 1989-98, and wound up starting 170 consecutive regular season games, the second-longest streak in team history. ... Anchored lines that helped the Steelers rank in the top-six in the NFL in rushing yards five times between 1992-97. ... Twice during Dawson’s career, the Steelers led the NFL in rushing yards (1994 and ’97). ... Pittsburgh led the AFC in scoring in ’95, the year the Steelers won the conference title. ... With Dawson as one of his lead blockers, Steelers RB Jerome Bettis eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards every season from 1996-2000. ... Started 13 career playoff games for the Steelers, including three AFC championship games and Super Bowl XXX. ... A seven-time Pro Bowler, named every season from 1992-98. ... Named first-team All-Pro six consecutive seasons, from 1993-98. ... A selection to Pro Football Weekly’s All-AFC team five consecutive times, from 1994-98. ... Hamstring injuries forced him to be sidelined for nine games in ’99 and seven games in 2000 before opting to retire. ... Dawson was named a center on the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1990s. ... Named to Steelers 75th Anniversary team. ... Though it has not officially been retired by the team, Dawson's No. 63 has not been given to a Steelers player since he retired in 2000.
Minnesota Vikings / 1985-93, 1999
Atlanta Falcons / 1994-95
San Francisco 49ers / 1996-98
The facts: Born Oct. 16, 1961, in Indianapolis, Ind. ... After attending Pitt, was the fourth overall pick in the 1985 draft by the Vikings. ... Was a backup linebacker for the most part his first two seasons in the league before moving to defensive end and having a breakout year in ’87, when he recorded 11 sacks and forced six fumbles. ... Two years later, Doleman followed that up with a league-high 21 sacks, just one shy of the all-time single-season record at the time. ... Named the NFC Defensive Player of the Year in ’92, after posting 14½ sacks, 64 tackles, six forced fumbles, three recovered fumbles, a safety, and an interception returned for a touchdown. ... Traded to the Falcons for a pair of draft picks following the ’93 season. ... After two seasons in Atlanta, Doleman signed with the 49ers in the spring of ’96. ... Recorded double-digit sacks all three seasons he played with the 49ers, including 15 in ’98 at the age of 37. ... Returned to the Vikings in ’99, recording eight sacks that season before deciding to retire. ... Ranks fourth all-time with 150½ sacks. ... Doleman’s eight seasons with 10 or more sacks is tied for the third-most all time. ... Led the Vikings in sacks six different seasons, and the Falcons and 49ers once each. ... Named to eight Pro Bowls during his career. ... Missed only two games because of injury during his 232-game NFL career. ... Started in 17 playoff games during his career, and recorded seven sacks. ... A three-time first-team All-Pro (1987, ’89, ’92). ... Doleman was honored as one of the 50 greatest players in Vikings history. ... Named to NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1990s.
Seattle Seahawks / 1990-2000
The facts: Born Aug. 23, 1968, in Osceola, Ark. ... An All-American at the University of Miami (Fla.) in 1989. ... Taken third overall in the ’90 draft by the Seahawks. ... Was named to the All-Rookie team after playing in all 16 games his first season. ... Despite the Seahawks' 2-14 record in ’92, Kennedy was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year that season after recording 14 sacks, 92 tackles and forcing four fumbles — it was only the third time in the award’s history that a player from a team with a losing record was named the winner. ... 1992 was also the first of three consecutive seasons he was named a first-team All-Pro. ... Kennedy had 6½ or more sacks in three of the following four seasons, despite constant double- and triple-teams from opposing blockers. ... Started 153 games during his career, including a team-record 100 in a row from 1991-97. ... Had his consecutive starts streak broken in Week Five of the ’97 season after suffering a knee injury. Kennedy played in only eight games that season, one of just two years during his career where he didn’t play in all 16 Seahawks games. ... Rebounded with strong seasons in both ’98 and ’99, both of which ended with Pro Bowl appearances. ... Had 61 tackles, 6½ sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions for Seattle in ‘99, helping the team to a 9-7 record, an AFC West championship and the team’s first playoff appearance in 11 years. ... Kennedy played his final game in 2000, sat out the ’01 season and officially retired in August of ’02. ... Eight-time Pro Bowler (1991-96, ’98-99) and five-times either first- or second-team All-Pro. ... Member of the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1990s. ... Inducted into the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor in 2006.
New England Patriots / 1995-97
New York Jets / 1998-2005
The facts: Born May 1, 1973, in Pittsburgh, Pa. ... Following an injury-plagued career at Pitt, was selected in the third round of the ’95 draft by the Patriots. ... Made a terrific first impression in New England, becoming the first Patriot in team history to rush for 100 yards in his first pro game, and also scored the game-winning touchdown. ... Martin finished ’95 as the AFC’s leading rusher with 1,487 yards, along with 15 total touchdowns, and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year. ... Ran for 1,152 yards and scored 17 touchdowns the next season, helping the Patriots reach Super Bowl XXXI. ... Signed with the Jets as a free agent in March of ’98, following his former Patriots head coach, Bill Parcells, to New York. ... Played eight seasons with the Jets and is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher. ... Martin had his best season at age 31 in 2004, when he led the NFL in rushing with 1,697 yards and was named a first-team All-Pro for the only time in his career. ... Also led the league in rushing attempts that season with 371. ... A knee injury midway through the ’05 season snapped Martin’s streak of 119 consecutive starts, and forced him to injured reserve for the only time in his career. ... Didn’t play in ’06 and officially retired in July of ’07. ... Retired with the fourth-most rushing yards (14,101) and third-most carries (3,518) in NFL history. ... His 90 rushing touchdowns is tied for 12th all-time. ... One of only two players — along with Barry Sanders — to rush for 1,000 or more yards in each of his first 10 professional seasons. ... Named to five Pro Bowls (1995, ’96, ’98, 2001, ’04). ... Led every team he played on in rushing. ... Inducted into Jets’ Ring of Honor in 2010.
New Orleans Saints / 1993-2001
Kansas City Chiefs / 2002-2005
The facts: Born April 18, 1970, in Pine Bluff, Ark. ... First-team All-American at Louisiana Tech in 1992. ... Selected eighth overall by the Saints in the ’93 draft. ... Did not miss an offensive snap his rookie season, starting all 16 games at right tackle. ... Moved to left tackle in ’94 and immediately became one of the premier players at his position, earning first-team All-Pro honors for the first of three consecutive times. ... Started 131 games in nine seasons in New Orleans. ... Helped the Saints win their first playoff game in franchise history in 2000. ... Was traded to the Chiefs in March of ’02 for a conditional draft choice. ... In Kansas City, Roaf was a lead blocker for some of the best rushing seasons in NFL history. ... Along with his fellow linemen, Roaf helped Chiefs RB Priest Holmes gain more than 2,200 total yards and score 24 touchdowns in ‘02 and set a then-single-season record with 27 touchdowns in ’03. ... Roaf then cleared the way for RB Larry Johnson to run for more than 1,700 yards and score 19 TDs in ’06. ... The Chiefs' offense ranked among the top six in the NFL in points and top four in the NFL in yards in each of the four seasons Roaf played with the team. ... Roaf retired following the ’05 season. ... Eleven-time Pro Bowler (1995-01, ’03-06). ... Named the NFLPA’s NFC Offensive Lineman of the Year in both ’94 and ’95. ... Six-time All-NFC player and three-time All-AFC player. ... One of three players — along with OG Larry Allen and DT Warren Sapp — to be named to the NFL’s All-Decade Teams of both the 1990s and the 2000s. ... Started all 189 games in which he played during his career. ... Enshrined into the Saints’ Hall of Fame in 2008.