(Dawson, left, and his high school coach, Dr. Steve Parker, right)
We paid tribute to Dermontti Dawson in the night post last night, but it’s time to hear even more about Dawson’s story and his induction into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame last night. As we mentioned before, Dawson is only the second player from Kentucky to ever receive the honor. Dawson was recognized for his playing days as a Pittsburgh Steeler, where at one point he played in 170 consecutive games and made 7 straight Pro Bowls. The statistics and longevity of Dawson’s career are impressive, but as with most things in sports, there’s more to the story than numbers and years logged in the NFL…
The honor was humbling for Dawson, and he admitted that he has spent most of the time since learning of his induction trying to find the right words to say when the moment finally arrived. Dawson delivered with 11 minutes of inspiring and touching words. Dawson consistently harped on the fact that no great accomplishment in this life can be achieved without the help and influence of others as well.
“Very few things in life are entirely the work of just one person,” Dawson said. “And this is no exception, so I must pay tribute to the enormous contributions made by my parents, family, coaches, teachers, fans and Steeler organization, without which none of this would have been possible.”
Included in that group was Dr. Steve Parker, the man who presented Dawson for enshrinement. Parker, now Associate Dean for Academic and Student Services at UK, discovered Dawson in a high school hallway. Then the head coach of Bryan Station in Lexington, Parker kick-started Dawson’s football career.
“If it were not for Coach Parker coming up to me in the hallways of Bryan Station Senior High and asking me, ‘Son, where have you been all my life?’ I never would have played football and definitely would not be here today,” Dawson said.
The story of how Dawson’s football career began, late compared to many, shows part of the beauty of life. We are all one moment away from change, sometimes change so big that it can lead us down an entirely different path in life. Those who we come in contact with every single day can have a profound impact on the directions we take, and vise-a-versa. The fact has not been lost on Dawson.
Dawson also spoke to his time at the University of Kentucky.
Dawson chose to come to Kentucky to continue his football career because he would also have the chance to compete in track and field there, but just as importantly because of the education he knew he would receive. He would go on to earn a degree from the College of Education at UK.
Dawson’s growth wasn’t restricted to the classroom at UK. Under the guidance of coaches like John Devlin, Pat Etcheberry and Jake Hallum, he went from a player without a position to an All-Southeastern Conference performer and second-round pick of the Steelers.
“I heard for five years when I attended UK and one day a light went off in my head and said, ‘Why am I out here if I’m not going to be the best player on the field?'”, Dawson said. “That’s what my goal was no matter the task and that became my purpose.”
Last night was the culmination of the Dawson’s adopted purpose, cultivated while at Kentucky, perfected while with the Steelers, and rightfully honored last night by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A special congratulations to Dermontti Dawson, and all of the incredible people who touched his life and helped him along the way in his journey to one of the most prestigious honors in the sport of football.
To read the rest of the wonderful article by UKAthletics.com on Dawson’s story and achievement, click here.