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Nov 16, 2012 9:03pm
Medium lingzi 1454 posts

CANTON, Ohio—They blocked and tackled and got lost in those scrums at the
line of scrimmage, overshadowed by the guys who handled the ball and soaked in
the moments of glory. Brian Cushing Youth Jersey . It all changes
in Canton this weekend, when a group of linemen become the stars of the NFLs
most prestigious event. Four linemen will be among the six players inducted into
the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night—Chris Doleman, Cortez
Kennedy, Willie Roaf and Dermontti Dawson. Running back Curtis Martin and
cornerback Jack Butler will join them. In several ways, its fitting that the
ones who protected the quarterbacks and tried to get them to the ground are the
ones getting top billing. “Any coach will tell you the backbone of your team is
the offensive line and the defensive line, and it is appropriate that these guys
go in together,” former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher said. For this
group, its about time. “These guys like Willie Roaf and Jack Butler and Cortez
Kennedy and Dermontti Dawson, how often do you hear their names called unless
theyre doing something that they shouldnt be doing?” said Doleman, who had 150
1/2 sacks. “These guys are awesome players who are so deserving of the Hall of
Fame, and Im so proud to be going in with them.” The six inductees are the
centerpiece of a special weekend in the northern Ohio city, which had to do
without one of its main events last year. The Hall of Fame game was called off
because of the NFL lockout, costing the hall and the city a lot of money. The
game returns on Sunday night, with more than a little intrigue of its own. The
New Orleans Saints, hit hard by their bounty scandal in the off-season, will
open the preseason against the Arizona Cardinals. Labor issues still play a
role, though—replacement officials will be used because the refs union has
been locked out. Itll overshadow the preseason, at least for the first game. “I
know therell be a lot of attention based on what happened with their
off-season,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. The weekend started with a big
moment for the hall itself. A 10,000-square-foot centre named for Bills founder
Ralph Wilson, Jr., was dedicated, a major expansion that will provide more space
for documents, photographs and artifacts. Then, those big guys were ready to get
the big moments, the ones usually saved for someone else. “Every quarterback who
wins the Super Bowl, he goes into the Hall of Fame,” Doleman said. “Its like,
Come on! That position probably deserves more scrutiny than any other position
on the field because you can have an average quarterback with a great offensive
line, and he gets all the glory. Theyre enabling him to throw the ball and do
what he needs to do.” On Saturday, some of those Hall of Fame passers will be in
the audience applauding a group of players known for their years of excellence
at the games basics—blocking and tackling. “A very down-to-earth class, not a
lot of egos involved,” Roaf said. “We all are happy about what we achieved, but
(theyre) good guys and good players to go in with.” Making it even more special
is the fact that the linemen havent had much chance experience in those
confetti-spray celebrations on Super Bowl Sundays. “The fact we have four
linemen going in is real special,” Roaf said. “Also, none of us have rings. We
all had real good careers, but none of us played in the Super Bowl other than
Dermontti.” The only “skill position” player going into the hall this weekend is
Martin, who finished as the fourth-leading rusher in NFL history. He has chosen
former coach Bill Parcells—who has been nominated but not elected to the hall
—to present him for induction. “My career wouldnt have been half of what it
was if it wasnt for Bill Parcells,” Martin said. “He helped me be a better
running back, but also to be a better professional and be a better man. He is
still a huge part of my life.” A couple of others will be honoured as well. Len
Dawson, already in the Hall of Fame as a quarterback, will receive the Pete
Rozelle Radio-Television award for his work with the Kansas City Chiefs radio
network, NBC and HBO. He was inducted in 1987. Tom Kowalski will be honoured
posthumously with the 2012 Dick McCann Award from the Professional Football
Writers of America. The Detroit Lions beat writer covered the team for 32 years.
He died in August at age 51. “Well, Ill say this: they dont give that award out
lightly,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “You mention some of the guys who have
won it in the past, they