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Martin, Doleman among 2012 class inducted into Hall of Fame

10:56 PM, Aug 4, 2012   |    comments
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Canton, OH (Sports Network) - Former running back Curtis Martin, and defensive end Chris Doleman were among six men inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Others honored in the 2012 class during the lavish outdoor ceremony were center Dermontti Dawson, defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, offensive tackle Willie Roaf and cornerback Jack Butler.

Martin, who surpassed 1,000 rushing yards in 10 of his 11 NFL seasons, gave a moving enshrinement speech that focused on his tough childhood. He shared harsh stories about the physical hurt his father put on his mother and also spoke about the murders of his grandmother and aunt.

"I watched my mother get punched in the face, get a black eye then go to work just to support her family. She did everything to raise me and in hindsight, when you're a kid and you're mother is tough on you, you don't understand," Martin said. "My mother was dealing with so much hurt and pain."

Martin, who started his career in New England (1995-97) and played the final eight seasons with the New York Jets, amassed 14,101 rushing yards, still the fourth most in NFL history.

Martin's mother, Rochella Dixon, shed away tears during the ceremony.

"I'm so grateful to my mother. That is the strongest individual I've known," Martin said. "Mom, I thank you so much for the all the sacrifices you made for me."

Martin, 39, who was born in Pittsburgh, didn't play football until his senior year at Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh and later attended the University of Pittsburgh on a football scholarship.

"I always thought I would die before I was 21," Martin said, recalling a story of when he went to church to pray for his future that was laden with a turmoil-filled past.

Martin praised Bill Parcells, who made the introduction speech for the five- time Pro Bowl selection. Parcells was the head coach for Martin in four years of his career, two both with the Patriots (1995-96 and Jets (1998-99).

"He called me boy wonder." Martin said.

Doleman, who played most of his career with the Vikings, ranked fourth on the NFL's all-time list with 150 1/2 sacks at the time of his retirement. He played 232 games in 15 seasons, also spending time with Atlanta and San Francisco.

"Anything you want in life you can get through sacks," Doleman said.

What Doleman achieved through the stat was eight Pro Bowl elections and three first-team All-Pro choices. He recorded 21 sacks in the 1989 season, and that was a single-season Vikings record until Jared Allen had 22 in 2011.

Roaf played 13 seasons and 189 games, beginning his career with the Saints from 1993-2001. With the Chiefs, he was a key part of the offensive line that helped the team lead the NFL in points scored in 2002 and '03.

"They called me Gilligan's Island," Roaf said. "Because I could block the best by myself. I didn't get singled out very often. "When I did it was usually by a referee saying 'holding No. 77' ... and that didn't happen very often."

Kennedy was durable, playing 167 of a possible 176 games in 11 seasons and was voted to a Seahawks-record eight Pro Bowls. He had 58 career sacks, leading Seattle twice in the stat.

Kennedy filled his induction speech with small stories, one which he describes his father, who was sitting in the audience in Canton, giving him a lawn mowing chore.

"I can remember not doing my chores right. I didn't cut the yard right," Kennedy said. "He made me cut the grass at 5 o'clock in the morning in the dark. He said 'do it right the first time and you won't have to do it again.' I got the point, don't take the shortcut. But since I'm older, if I had to cut it right in the daytime, what the heck am I going to do at night time."

Dawson was a center for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1988-2000. He played 184 games over 13 seasons and was selected to seven straight Pro Bowls from 1993-99. He doubled as the team's long snapper from 1988-93 and was an anchor on the line for five Steelers AFC Central Division champion teams and one AFC Championship team.

"I'm almost at a loss for words being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame," Dawson said. "This is an incredible honor and I feel very privileged and humbled."

Butler, 84, was a Steelers cornerback from 1951-59. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, when Butler retired following the 1959 season, he was ranked second on the all-time NFL interceptions list.

"I never envisioned being here in Canton This is the highest honor I've achieved in my professional career," Butler said. "As a player, as a coach, as a scout and as an administrator, I am truly honored."

Among those on hand for the ceremony were Saints quarterback Drew Brees and suspended coach Sean Payton. Payton was allowed into the ceremony, but will not be allowed to attend Sunday night's preseason Hall of Fame game between the Saints and Arizona Cardinals.

The Sports Network

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