Former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis and center Dermontti Dawson are among the 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011.
Bettis, who began his career with the L.A./St. Louis Rams in 1993, had his best days once he was traded to the Steelers in 1996.
Bettis rushed for 10,571 with the Steelers, and amassed 13,662 career yards, ranking him fifth overall in NFL history.
"It's an honor," said Bettis. "You know what the Hall of Fame stands for. To be in final consideration is a huge honor."
Bettis, who retired after the Steelers won Super Bowl XL, is one of five first-year eligible players who are finalists, including Marshall Faulk, Curtis Martin, Will Roaf and Deion Sanders. Other finalists include Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Richard Dent, Chris Doleman, Charles Haley, Cotrez Kennedy, Andre Reed, Ed Sabol and Shannon Sharpe.
"It's great company to be in," said Bettis. "Those guys are all players I feel deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. To be among those guys is an amazing feeling."
Dawson, who was drafted by the Steelers in the second round in 1988 from Kentucky, was a finalist last year as well and while his hope is to make it in to the Hall of Fame, he knows it's out of his control.
"It's an honor just to be considered for the Hall of Fame," said Dawson. "That is the ultimate accolade for an individual player. It's a big honor coming from all of those who vote for it.
"I don't worry about things I can't control. It's a big honor to be a finalist again but it's something I don't worry about."
Dawson played his entire 13-year career with the Steelers, taking over for Mike Webster at center in his second season and remaining a steady force at the position throughout his career.
"I played with Dermontti so it makes it that much sweeter," said Bettis of both players being finalists. "I have been an advocate of his as being one of the top centers of all time. For him to get the just desserts would be very special."
Dawson said that having two former Steelers as nominees makes it not just about the players, but it's also about the team.
"It says a lot about the Steelers organization and the quality of players that they acquire over the years," said Dawson. "It's a testament to the Steelers organization.
"It's great Jerome and I are both finalists, me blocking for him and him running hard for me. We complemented one another. You don't see something like that happen often."
The Class of 2011 will be announced on Saturday, Feb. 5, the day before the Super Bowl.
Bettis and Dawson Hall of Fame Finalist Bios
Running Back … 5-11, 243 … Notre Dame … 1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers … 13 seasons, 192 games … Selected by Rams in 1st round (10th player overall) of 1993 draft … Earned Rookie of Year honors ... Finished rookie season with seventh best rookie rushing total in league history... As rookie finished second in rushing yards and third in total yards from scrimmage ... First Rams rookie to rush for 1,000 yards since Eric Dickerson, 1983 … Rams leading rusher 1993-95 … Steelers leading rusher 1996-2001, 2003-04 … Steelers leader in total yards from scrimmage, 1996-2001 … His fifty 100-plus yard games ranks 1st in Steelers history … At time of retirement, his eight 1,000-plus yard seasons was tied for third-best in NFL history … His 13,662 ranks fifth all-time in career rushing yards … Ranked 19th all-time in combined net yards at time of retirement … Voted to Pro Bowl six times: 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2005 … Named All-Pro in 1993 (AP, PFWA), 1996 (AP); All-Pro second-team 1997 (AP); All-NFC*1993 (UPI, PW); All-AFC *1996 (UPI, PW), 1997 (PW) … Born February 16, 1972 in Detroit, Michigan.
Center … 6-2, 288 … Kentucky … 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers … 13 playing seasons, 184 games … Steelers' second-round draft pick (44th player overall), 1988 NFL Draft … Second-team All-SEC at Kentucky … Started five of eight games played as a rookie at right guard … Missed eight weeks at midseason with knee injury … Became starting center in 1989 replacing future Hall of Famer Mike Webster … Doubled as team's long snapper, 1988-1993 … Named Co-AFC Offensive Lineman of the Year (with Richmond Webb) by NFL Players Association, 1993 … Selected as NFL Alumni Offensive Lineman of the Year, 1996 … Played in 170 consecutive games before streak ended in 1999 due to hamstring injury … His exceptional speed and strength enabled him to do things not typical of a center … Named first-team All-Pro six consecutive years (1993-98) … Selected to play in seven consecutive Pro Bowls (1993-99) … Anchor on offensive line that led Steelers to five AFC Central Division championships and one AFC championship … Born June 17, 1965 in Lexington, Kentucky.