The Steelers of the 1970s had their days in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Now, it could be the turn for a few from the 1990s.
Defensive back Rod Woodson and center Dermontti Dawson, teammates on some of the best teams in Steelers history that never won a Super Bowl, were among 15 modern finalists selected yesterday for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Woodson was selected in his first year of eligibility while Dawson reached the finals for the first time in his fourth year. Woodson played for the Steelers from 1987 through 1996, then continued his career with San Francisco, Baltimore and Oakland, where he retired after the 2003 season. Dawson played his entire career with the Steelers, 1988-2000.
Russ Grimm, a Scottdale, Pa., native and a former Steelers line coach who played at Pitt and at guard for the Washington Redskins, also made the list of modern finalists.
Woodson and Dawson were considered among the very best at their positions. Woodson played mostly cornerback before he moved to safety in his later years. Woodson made 11 Pro Bowls, six All-Pros and was the previous Steelers player to be named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1993 before James Harrison earned that award Tuesday.
Current Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who coached Woodson starting in 1992, said yesterday, "He is one of the best I've ever seen."
Dawson made the NFL's all-decade team of the 1990s, seven Pro Bowls and six All-Pros.
The 2009 Hall of Fame class will be elected Jan. 31 in a vote by the 44 members of the board of selectors at their meeting in Tampa, Fla. The class must consist of at least four and no more than seven. The 15 modern finalists are joined by two seniors candidates.
Cris Carter, WR: 1987-89 Eagles, 1990-2001 Vikings, 2002 Dolphins
Dermontti Dawson, C: 1988-2000 Steelers
Richard Dent, DE: 1983-1993, 1995 Bears, 1994 49ers, 1996 Colts, 1997 Eagles
Russ Grimm, G: 1981-1991 Redskins
x-Bob Hayes, WR: 1965-1974 Cowboys, 1975 49ers
x-Claude Humphrey, DE: 1968-1978 Falcons, 1979-1981 Eagles
Cortez Kennedy, DT: 1990-2000 Seahawks
Bob Kuechenberg, G: 1970-1984 Dolphins
Randall McDaniel, G: 1988-1999 Vikings, 2000-01 Buccaneers
John Randle, DT: 1990-2000 Vikings, 2001-03 Seahawks
Andre Reed, WR: 1985-1999 Bills, 2000 Redskins
Shannon Sharpe, TE: 1990-99, 2002-03 Broncos, 2000-01 Ravens
Bruce Smith, DE: 1985-1999 Bills, 2000-03 Redskins
Paul Tagliabue, commissioner: 1989-2006 National Football League
Derrick Thomas, LB: 1989-1999 Kansas City Chiefs
Ralph Wilson, team funder/owner: 1960-present Buffalo Bills
Rod Woodson, CB/S: 1987-1996 Steelers, 1997 49ers, 1998-2001 Ravens, 2002-03 Raiders