Steelers' Bettis, Dawson left out of Hall of Fame class

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DALLAS -- On the day before the Super Bowl, the Steelers were shut out when the new Pro Football Hall of Fame class was elected.

Jerome Bettis and Dermontti Dawson will have to wait at least until next year. They were among the 15 finalists considered Saturday for induction when the 44 Hall of Fame selectors met here.

Bettis, the franchise's second-leading all-time rusher, was eliminated on the first ballot that whittled the candidates to 10. It was his first year of eligibility. Dawson, eligible for the fifth year, reached the final 10 for the second consecutive year before he was eliminated.

Also failing to make it were two former Pitt players, defensive end Chris Doleman, and running back Curtis Martin, an Allderdice High School graduate.

Deion Sanders and Marshall Faulk led the class and were joined by Shannon Sharpe, Richard Dent, Ed Sabol, Les Richter and Chris Hanburger.

Sanders, the outstanding cornerback/kick returner and sometime wide receiver known as "Prime Time" with five teams, is a two-time Super Bowl winner and was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1994.

Faulk won a Super Bowl with the 1999 Rams, was the 1994 Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2000 NFL MVP and a three-time Offensive Player of the Year (1999-2001). Faulk is the 10th-leading career rusher with 12,279 yards.

Sharpe starred for Denver and Baltimore for 14 seasons and won three Super Bowls in a four-year span, two with Denver, one with Baltimore. He held league records for a tight end in receptions, yards and touchdowns when he retired in 2001.

Dent, who spent most of his NFL career as a defensive end with the Chicago Bears, was the Most Valuable Player in the 1986 Super Bowl and finished with 137 1/2 career sacks. He was the top pass-rusher on one of the NFL's greatest defensive units. Dent became a starter in 1984, beginning a 10-year period in which he made 10 or more sacks in eight of 10 seasons.

"It was a long time coming, I am very happy," Dent said.

"If you can do your thing the way [Walter Payton] did his, you can be in the Hall of Fame. I am so thankful for this."

Dent also won a Super Bowl in 1994 with the San Francisco 49ers.

Richter played linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams from 1954-62. They traded 11 players for him and waited two years while he was in the military before he suited up. He made the wait worthwhile, going to eight consecutive Pro Bowls. He also was a center and kicker.

Richter died in June.

Hanburger spent all 14 seasons with the Washington Redskins and played in nine Pro Bowls. He played from 1965-78.

Sabol founded NFL Films.

Other finalists who did not get in were longtime Seattle defensive lineman Cortez Kennedy, former Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins wide receiver Andre Reed and former New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Willie Roaf.

Induction ceremonies are Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio.

Bettis retired after the 2005 season that had a storybook finish for him when the Steelers won Super Bowl XL in his hometown of Detroit. The Bus finished with 13,662 yards, fifth-most in NFL history. He made six Pro Bowls.

Dawson and Hall of Famer Mike Webster, the man he succeeded at center, are considered the two best linemen in the Steelers' history.

Dawson made seven Pro Bowls and six All-Pro teams. He also made the NFL's team of the decade for the 1990s and was twice voted offensive lineman of the year, in 1993 (AFC) and 1996 (NFL).

"It was a long time coming, I am very happy. If you can do your thing the way [Walter Payton] did his, you can be in the Hall of Fame. I am so thankful for this."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. First Published February 6, 2011 5:00 AM


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