Doleman praises parents, Martin his mom for upbringing that led to the hall of fame


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CANTON, Ohio -- The Pro Football Hall of Fame is undergoing a major renovation, which is expected to be completed by August 2013. If any more players from the University of Pittsburgh are enshrined, the hall might consider building a new wing for Panthers as well.

Two more former Panthers were enshrined Saturday night at Fawcett Stadium. Curtis Martin and Chris Doleman made their induction speeches during the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement festival.

It is the second time in three years that two Pitt alums were inducted in the same class. In 2010, offensive lineman Russ Grimm and linebacker Rickey Jackson were inducted.

The Panthers have eight players in the hall of fame. The others are quarterback Dan Marino (2005), running back Tony Dorsett (1994), tight end Mike Ditka (1988) and linebacker Joe Schmidt (1973).

Only USC (11) and Notre Dame (10) have more players enshrined in the hall of fame.

"I was recruited by several colleges and wanted to play at an institution where my parents could come watch me play on every Saturday," said Doleman, who grew up in York, Pa. "I chose the University of Pittsburgh."

That drew a loud applause from the partisan Pittsburghers who descended upon Canton for the ceremony.

"Thank you. I like that. Hail to Pitt.

"I was blessed with great coaching by remarkable men," Doleman continued. "Jackie Sherrill, Foge Fazio, Joe Moore . . . they challenged me every day. They brought out the very best in me, things that I never even knew I had inside me. They were also there to let me know I wasn't the only linebacker on the team . . . the University of Pittsburgh set a standard that is second to none."

Doleman, who played for Pitt from 1981-84, was one of the finest pass rushing defensive ends in the NFL during his 15-year career with the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers.

An eight-time Pro Bowler and the NFC defensive player of the year in 1992, Doleman had 150 1/2 sacks, 21 in the 1989 season.

Doleman concluded his speech by thanking his parents, John and Mary, for their support in raising five boys in York.

"Week in and week out, they made many sacrifices," he said. "They took us to practice every day. All of us didn't play football. Some of us played basketball and baseball, but they were always there to take us and make sure that not only did they drop us off, but they stayed for practice. And that was before cell phones, so they weren't sitting there on the phone. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart because I do appreciate the sacrifice and what it takes to get it done. My dad had one rule. If he signed you up for something, you had to finish. He didn't like wasting money, you know. So right there alone taught me about commitment. I love you both. Thank you for teaching me the importance of finishing what you started. And if it's any indication today, I finished the game I signed up for."

Martin played for Pitt from 1991-94 and for 11 years in the NFL with the New England Patriots and New York Jets from 1995-2005. A Homewood native who played at Taylor Allderdice High School, Martin was presented by former Patriots and Jets coach Bill Parcells.

Martin got choked up several times during his speech talking about his mother, Rochella, raising him as a single mother. He recalled watching his father beat her and told the story of Rochella finding his grandmother murdered in her bedroom.

"I'm so grateful to my mother," Martin said. "She is the strongest individual I know."

Martin also recognized former Allderdice coach Mark Wittgartner, who asked him to come out for the football team for the first time as a senior.

"You saved my life," Martin said to Wittgartner, who was in attendance.

But the coach to have the biggest influence on Martin was Parcells.

"He was the first male I had a positive role model," Martin said. "He called me 'Boy Wonder.' He said, Boy Wonder, have you been working hard? I said, of course, coach. That's what I do. I want to outwork everyone in the building. Why you ask me that? I just want to make sure you're not full of yourself. He said as long as you live, remember there is a big difference between routine and commitment. Even though I worked hard, that made me work harder."

ON THE WEB: Look for video highlights of Saturday's ceremonies.

pittsports

By Ray Fittipaldo: rfittipaldo@post-gazette.com and Twitter @rayfitt1. First Published August 5, 2012 4:00 AM


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