LEMOND: Dermontti Dawson UK fan at heart

He is considered one of the greatest centers ever to play in the National Football League and at Kentucky. Dermontti Dawson will always be remembered as one of the best ever to wear the "blue and white". His UK jersey has been retired.

He is considered one of the greatest centers ever to play in the National Football League and at Kentucky. Dermontti Dawson will always be remembered as one of the best ever to wear the "blue and white". His UK jersey has been retired.

Dawson's path to NFL stardom started at Bryan Station High School in Lexington. Recently, Dawson hit the golf course in a fund raiser for his alma mater where he lent his name to help Bryan Station raise money for new football uniforms, equipment and a new field house.

"I've supported UK, and of course I'm going to support Bryan Station because that's where I got my start," Dawson said.

After an outstanding college career at Kentucky, Dawson was a second round draft choice in 1988 by the Pittsburgh Steelers where he replaced Hall of Famer Mike Webster at center. Most NFL observers feel Dawson is also a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. He'll be eligible for induction next year, although you would never know it by talking to him.

"I have no clue," Dawson said when asked about making the Hall of Fame. "It doesn't matter. I won't let it define me whether I make first ballot or if I don't make it at all. I'm just blessed to be in the position I'm in. I just take it as it comes."

That kind of attitude is what endeared Dawson to football fans at UK and with the Steelers. Surprisingly though, Dawson doesn't keep up with the game as much as fans might expect saying he doesn't miss the game, only 'the guys'.

"I've got other things to keep me busy," he said. "I don't really follow it (the NFL) that much. It's not like I have to be in front of the TV. I did go to a couple of PIttsburgh's playoff games."

Dawson spent his entire 13 year NFL career with the Steelers. He was named the American Football Conference lineman of the year three times. He played in an incredible 170 consecutive games and in seven straight Pro Bowls. He eventually became the highest-paid offensive lineman in Steelers history when he signed for $4.2 million a year. But a lingering hamstring injury forced Dawson to retire from the NFL in 2001. As soon as he hung up his jersey, he returned to his home in Lexington.

Dawson said, "My wife is also from here (Lexington). My family is from here. I wanted my kids to know their family. That's why it was important to come back here."

The former Bryan Station and UK star is also busy giving back to the community that gave so much to him. Dawson has started a "Pro Foundation" that partners with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Bluegrass and the Salvation Army to help kids in the Lexington community. He is also a licensed Real Estate agent and owns several laundromats.

Above all, he has always remained a true UK fan at heart.


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