Skip to main content

Former Jets, Pats RB Martin headlines Hall's Class of 2012

INDIANAPOLIS -- Curtis Martin has gone from the mean streets of Pittsburgh to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The star running back with the Patriots and Jets for 11 seasons was one of six players elected Saturday to comprise the Class of 2012. Martin once disliked playing the game but used it to escape a neighborhood where his grandmother was murdered.

"When I get awarded something like the Hall of Fame, it's almost foreign to me," said Martin, the NFL's fourth-leading career rusher. "This wasn't something I planned on doing. Football is something I did so I didn't end up jailed or dead.

Kirwan: Hall of Fame snubs

Bill Parcells won two Super Bowls and rebuilt three franchises, but that wasn't enough for Hall voters. Pat Kirwan examines the snubs. **More ...**

"If you make up your mind to just do the right thing no matter what ... and you stick to it, which I did, this is how things can turn around. I feel as if my life turned around from what it used to be, and I think anyone has a chance."

Martin and four linemen were elected to the hall, along with one senior committee choice. Martin is joined by Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Willie Roaf, Dermontti Dawson, and senior selection Jack Butler.

Jerome Bettis, Cris Carter and Bill Parcells were among the finalists who didn't make it.

A panel of 44 media members voted. The inductions are in early August in Canton, Ohio.

Martin made it for his consistency and durability, rushing for 14,101 yards and 90 touchdowns. He rushed for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first 10 seasons, the first three with New England and the others with the Jets. The 1995 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Martin won the NFL rushing title in 2004 with 1,697 yards.

"It almost caught me off guard," Martin said via telephone on NFL Network's announcement special. "When the show first started, I Tweeted that, 'I feel like I'm about to watch a scary movie.' The bittersweet part about it is Parcells. Without him, my career wasn't even 30 percent of what it was. He taught me not only how to be a professional, a professional athlete, but he also had a lot to do with teaching me how to be a man."

Doleman and Kennedy were sackmasters from the defensive line -- Doleman at end and Kennedy at tackle.

Doleman had 150.5 sacks in his 15 seasons, mostly with Minnesota, and was a prototype of the agile-yet-powerful pass rushers who dominate the game today. He made the Pro Bowl eight times and was fourth on the sacks list when he retired.

"I'm blown away by it -- I really am," Doleman said to NFL Network's Fran Charles. "This is just a big surprise. I couldn't have asked for a better day, and it couldn't have happened in a better way. I watched it with my family here, cousins, aunts, and uncles, and it was just wonderful."

Kennedy was a force inside, both as a run-stopper and as a threat to quarterbacks. The 1992 Defensive Player of the Year made eight Pro Bowls, had 58 sacks -- an unusually high total for a tackle -- and spent his entire 11-season career with Seattle.

Roaf spent one season at right tackle, then the rest of his 13 seasons on the left side, making 11 Pro Bowls with the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs. He made the All-Decade team for the 1990s.

Dawson made seven Pro Bowls as the Steelers' center. He was that rare snapper who also could block defensive players one-on-one. He replaced a Hall of Famer, Mike Webster, and started for Pittsburgh for most of his 13 pro seasons.

"It's a great honor to be selected to the Class of 2012 in the Hall of Fame," Dawson said. "It's caused my phone to malfunction. I've had over 100 texts and phone calls. It's been non-stop, but it's a good thing."

Butler also played for the Steelers as a cornerback from 1951 to 1959, picking off 52 passes, at the time second most in NFL history. But he was best-known for his tackling skills.

"I just love it; I love being here. I feel good about it all," Butler said. "They told me I was good. I never knew I was good, but I guess I must have done something right or I wouldn't be here today."

Guard Will Shields -- the only first-year eligible player to make the 15-man finals -- didn't get in. Shields played in all 224 games during his 14 seasons in Kansas City, and started all but one.

Bettis also fell short. He broke into the league with the Rams in 1993, when he was named Offensive Rookie of the Year, but played most of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, with whom he won his only Super Bowl in 2006. He retired with 13,662 career yards, sixth-best on the NFL's all-time list.

Parcells coached the Giants to Super Bowl titles in 1986 and 1990 and lost the 1996 Super Bowl with New England. He also coached the New York Jets for three seasons and the Dallas Cowboys for four.

Carter had 1,101 receptions -- fourth-best on the NFL's all-time list -- in 16 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins. He has 13,899 receiving yards, eighth-best all-time.

Others not voted in were receivers Tim Brown and Andre Reed, defensive end/linebackers Kevin Greene and Charles Haley, defensive back Aeneas Williams, and former 49ers owner Ed DeBartolo Jr.

The other senior finalist, guard Dick Stanfel, was not chosen, either.

Matt Florjancic and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.