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.
Text: Gabriel Baumgaertner
Photo: Richard Mackson/SI