(From the Chief Troll: If we had emotions, we'd be excited to welcome into the dysfunctional CHFF family this season football historian and stat guru Russell Baxter. He's the former NFL statistician for ESPN. You can follow his stat-packed Twitter updates @baxfootballguru. He's in Canton, Ohio this weekend covering the Pro Football Hall of Fame game. By the way, that's our own Frankie C. in the photo at Canton on the road to the Super Bowl earlier this year.)
By Russell S. Baxter
Cold, Hard Football Facts Man in Canton
Before you sit down this weekend to enjoy the first preseason game of 2012 (Cardinals vs. Saints), six more men will take their rightful place in Canton, Ohio.
Here are a few interesting facts and figures regarding the new enshrinees and the 273 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame:
The Class of 2012 marks the seventh consecutive year the Hall has welcomed at least a half-dozen new members.
This year’s class includes Jack Butler, Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Curtis Martin and Willie Roaf.
The last time we saw fewer than six new Hall of Famers was 2005 in quarterbacks Dan Marino, Steve Young and Benny Friedman, as well as running back/head coach Fritz Pollard.
None of this year’s six inductees won an NFL championship and few got the chance to even play for one.
It’s further proof that the Hall celebrates excellence of play and not necessarily team accomplishments.
Butler never played in a postseason game for the Steelers, while Doleman, Roaf and Kennedy never played in a Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Dawson’s Steelers lost to the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX and a year later Martin’s Patriots lost to the Packers in Super Bowl XXXI.
Eight of the NFL's top 10 all-time rushing leaders will be enshrined with the addition of Martin.
The former Patriots and Jets star is fourth in NFL history with 14,101 rushing yards.
The group of ball carriers is led by Emmitt Smith (18,355), Walter Payton (16,726) and Barry Sanders (15,269), as well as Eric Dickerson (13,259), Tony Dorsett (12,739), Jim Brown (12,312) and Marshall Faulk (12,279).
Recently retired LaDainian Tomlinson is fifth (13,684) and not yet eligible while Jerome Bettis, sixth with 13,662 yards, is a two-time finalist.
By contrast, only two of the NFL’s Top 20 all-time leaders in receptions are in the Hall of Fame (Jerry Rice, Art Monk).
Numerous receptions leaders are either not yet eligible (like Marvin Harrison, Isaac Bruce and Hines Ward) or still playing (like Tony Gonzalez, Reggie Wayne and Randy Moss). Wide receivers Cris Carter (1,101), Tim Brown (1,094) and Andre Reed (951) rank fourth, fifth and 10th, respectively, in catches in league annals.
But Reed (6), Carter (5) and Brown (3) have been finalists a combined 14 times with no admittance (so far).
Lovers of trench warfare will certainly enjoy this year’s class: four of the six enshrinees are offensive and defensive linemen.
Dawson and Roaf played on the offensive line while Doleman and Kennedy played defensive line.
The last time we saw at least two “blockers” enter the Hall the same year was 2007, when former Browns’ guard Gene Hickerson and former Oilers’/Titans’ 14-time Pro Bowler Bruce Matthews were honored.
You have to go back to 1995 the last time we saw a pair of defensive linemen enshrined: Browns’/Packers’ defensive tackle Henry Jordan and the Buccaneers’ Lee Roy Selmon.
Martin is one of only four players in league history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in 10 different seasons.
He joins Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders on that elite list.
Martin and Sanders are the only two who started their careers that way, with 1,000-yard seasons as rookies. Amazingly, Martin’s 10th campaign was his best. He ran for a career high 1,697 yards with the Jets in 2004 and became the oldest player (31 years, 8 months) to lead the NFL in rushing yards in a season.
Butler and Dawson give the Pittsburgh Steelers a total of 20 “primary” Hall of Fame members.
The term “primary” means the “team or teams on which the Hall of Famer made his primary contribution to professional football,” according to the Hall’s outstanding guide.
That number puts the Black & Gold third on the list, behind the Bears (27) and Packers (21), and slightly ahead of the Redskins (19) and Giants (18).
Pittsburgh boasted a Hall of Fame center for 27 straight years, and Pro Bowl centers in 16 of 21 seasons.
New enshrine Dawson was drafted by the Steelers in 1988 and was a seven-time Pro Bowler at center (1992-1998).
He basically succeeded Hall of Famer pivot man Mike Webster, who was drafted in 1974 and was a nine-time Pro Bowler at the position (1978-85, ’87).
The two played together with the Steelers in 1988, before Webster went to the Chiefs in 1989 and Dawson took over his position at center.
So Pittsburgh had a Hall of Fame center every year from 1974 to 2000 and a Pro Bowl center 16 times between 1978 and 1998. That had to make you feel good if you’re a Pittsburgh quarterback or running back (or guard or tackle).
Doleman is Minnesota’s 11th “primary” Hall of Famer.
Interestingly, seven Vikings HOFers are linemen, including four on the defensive side of the ball. The others are defensive tackles Alan Page and John Randle and defensive end Carl Eller.
Roaf is just the second “primary” Saints’ player inducted in the Hall.
He joins linebacker Rickey Jackson, while Saints executive Jim Finks is also enshrined in Canton.
Kennedy is just the second “primary” member of the Seahawks,
joining wide receiver Steve Largent.
Kennedy’s 1992 season was amazing in so many ways.
He was named NFL Defensive Player on team that finished 2-14. His tackle total of 92 wasn’t that far off the number of points the Seahawks scored that year (140), still the fewest points scored by a team in a 16-game season.
Most importantly, he wore number 99 that season instead of 96 in honor of friend and fellow Miami Hurricane Jerome Brown, the former Eagles’ Pro Bowl defensive tackle who died in a car accident in June of that year.