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Dermontti Dawson, Steelers Center, 1988-2000

February 23, 2012

Dermontti Dawson:

First, congratulations on making the HOF. How important was this to you personally and what are your thoughs on the selection process?

It’s a great honor, but I never ever expected I would have a stellar career and end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.. I never considered it until I became a nominee and it’s the defining moment of my career. The selection process is what it is, until they change the format.

Most everyone we spoke to attributed much of your success to your uncanny athleticism. What do you attribute your athleticisim and ability to stay healthy over your thirteen year career to?

I think it helps to be very athletic and that can help you avoid injury at times, but it’s no guarantees at all.  I think taking care of your body each and everyday helps recover from injury quicker.

You are the owner of the local baseball team, the Washington Wild Things. How did that come about and what should fans expect from the Wild Things in 2012?

We as a group got together in ’99 or 2000, when we decided to go in and partner and buy a franchise. This year is going to be great for the fans.  We have new coaches and plenty of fun planned for the fans.  We will be hosting wrestling, country music concerts, fireworks and much more throughout the year.

What NFL experiences and lessons have helped you as owner of the Wild Things – and in other post-NFL ventures?

The life lessons I learned from sports like, discipline, teamwork, dedication and hard work transcend sports and can be applied to everyday life and help you be successful in life and any other venture you may pursue.

What’s next for you – and is coaching something you’ve considered?

I’m working with a company called Prime Time West, Inc, which is a promotional products and advertising company, here in San Diego, CA.  I have thought about coaching, but I’m not sure if it’s in my future.

You were a second-round draft pick in 1988. Who helped mentor you as a rookie and helped you adjust to the NFL both on and off the field, and how did they do so?

Mike Webster was a huge influence on my career by the way he conducted himself on and off the field.  He lead by example in the classroom,weight room, practice and games.  He taught me how to lead by example, by me emulating his actions during my years with Pittsburgh.

What were some of the toughest guys you lined up against over your career – both in practice and on other teams – and what made them so?

Tough guys I played against: Jerry Ball (quick), Michael Dean Perry (quick and great use of hands).

You had the opportunity to play behind Mike Webster for a season before taking over as a starter. How important was that for you and how intimidating was it stepping in to the shoes of a sure-fire Hall of Fame player?

I was a guard my rookie year.  After being named starter my second year, you are always going to be under the microscope and be compared to whom you follow. I felt no pressure, I just wanted to play well. I felt more pressure from the media, because I was following a legend. I saw it as a challenge to live up to Mike’s legend or get very close.

Who were the QB’s you most enjoyed playing with in terms of their in-huddle leadership and on-field play, and what made them so?

I liked all my QB’s.  Buddy Brister was funny, took control of the huddle and was a good leader on the field. Kordell Stewart was funny and I loved to see him make guys look silly, when trying to catch him after taking off out of the pocket.  He was a good guy as well and the media never gave him a real chance in Pittsburgh. 

He was a game changing player.

Who were some of the biggest characters on those Steelers teams you played for and what made them so? Any examples?

 Levon Kirkland (always joking around and making fun of anyone around).

What are your best memories as a Steeler and what makes them so?

My fondest memory as a Steeler was playing in Super Bowl XXX.  That’s every player’s dream!

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