Dermontti Dawson, a second round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1988, had a knee injury interrupt his rookie season. Despite the injury, he managed to start five of eight games that year at guard. The following year he replaced future Hall of Famer Mike Webster as the Pittsburgh’s starting center. He remained an anchor of the Steelers’ front line for the remainder of his 13-season NFL career.
Dawson, who also served as the team’s long snapper through 1993, earned his first Pro Bowl berth following the 1992 season. It marked the first of seven straight Pro Bowl invitations for the lineman.
Named co-AFC Offensive Lineman of the Year by the NFL Players Association in 1993, Dawson also earned the first of his six consecutive All-NFL honors. In 1995, he anchored the powerful Steelers offensive line that helped pave the way to Pittsburgh’s first Super Bowl berth since the 1979 season. That year, the Steelers topped the AFC in scoring with 407 points.
He was named the NFL Alumni’s Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1996, a year in which the Steelers captured their third straight division title. That season, Dawson and the Pittsburgh offensive line led the way for Jerome Bettis who finished second in the AFC with a then-personal best 1,431 yards. One season later Dawson helped Bettis rush for a career-high 1,665 yards which was the second highest single-season total in team history.
During Dawson’s 13-year career, Pittsburgh led the NFL in rushing twice as Steelers’ ball carriers amassed 2,180 yards in 1994 and 2,479 yards in 1997.
In all, Dawson played in 184 regular season games and his 170 consecutive games played ranks second in club history. Named a center on the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s, Dawson started in three AFC championship games and was Pittsburgh’s starting center in Super Bowl XXX against the Dallas Cowboys.
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