Curtis Martin capped the 2012 NFL Hall of Fame ceremony with a moving speech that ended the evening on a high note. But the 2012 class that was headlined by Martin and Willie Roaf was an underrated group that is one of the best in recent memory.
Roaf and longtime Pittsburgh Steelers center Dermontti Dawson were two of the top offensive linemen of their era, while Chris Doleman and Cortez Kennedy were perennial Pro Bowlers along the defensive line. Martin, one of the most consistent running backs of the late 90s and early 2000s, and Jack Butler, a Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback from the 1950s, rounded out the class.
Roaf played from 1993 to 2005 for the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs. He reached the Pro Bowl 11 times in his 13 professional seasons. He was on both the 1990s and 2000s NFL All-Decade Teams. Quite simply, he was one of the offensive tackles to ever play the game.
Martin was a five-time Pro Bowler during his 11 seasons with both the New England Patriots and New York Jets. He was a versatile running back whose 14,101 career rushing yards rank fourth on the all-time list.
Dawson was a seven-time Pro Bowler during his 13 NFL seasons, all with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was the best center in the NFL during his time, making six All-Pro teams and landing on the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team.
Kennedy was the best defensive tackle of his era despite playing his entire career in relative obscurity with the Seattle Seahawks. In his 11 NFL seasons, he was an eight-time Pro Bowler, was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 1992 and was a member of the All-Decade Team for the 1990s as well.
Doleman was the No. 4 overall pick of the 1985 NFL draft and retired in 1999 after a career spent playing for the Minnesota Vikings (1985-1993), Atlanta Falcons (1994-1995), San Francisco 49ers (1996-1998) and Vikings again (1999). His 150.5 sacks rank fourth all-time, he was an eight-time Pro Bowler and was also a member of the 1990s All-Decade Team.
Butler played from 1951 to 1959 and made four Pro Bowls, but was a three-time All-Pro and is a member of the Steelers' All-Time Team. The gritty cornerback had a whopping 52 interceptions in his nine NFL seasons. He and Dick "Night Train" Lane were the most dominant defensive backs of their era.
Those six names and their accomplishments should impress you. This year's class was outstanding top to bottom, and each guy deserved his induction into the Hall of Fame.