Boasting incredible longevity and durability, Chris Doleman was an eight-time Pro Bowler, including six times with the Minnesota Vikings and one berth each as a member of the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers. He was a first-team All-Pro three times and was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s. Doleman ranked fourth in NFL history with 150.5 career sacks when he retired in 1999. While at Pitt (1981-84), Doleman displayed the athletic and ferocious style that would characterize his pro career. He was part of some of the greatest defenses in school history before going on to be the fourth-overall pick of the 1985 NFL Draft by the Vikings. He had 10 or more sacks in eight different pro seasons. In 1989, he led the NFL with 21 sacks, the fourth-highest single-season total ever. An incredibly disruptive defender, he forced 45 fumbles while recovering 24 during his career. Doleman is a member of the 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class.
A third-round draft selection of New England in 1995, Curtis Martin spent three years with the Patriots (1995-97) before signing with the New York Jets (1998-2006). He finished his career with an astonishing 14,101 yards to rank fourth all-time among the NFL's career rushing leaders, trailing only Emmitt Smith (18,355), Walter Payton (16,726) and Barry Sanders (15,269). Martin was named to five Pro Bowls. A Pittsburgh native who attended Taylor Allderdice High, Martin rushed for 2,643 career yards at Pitt despite playing in only two contests during his final campaign in 1994 due to an ankle injury. The highlight of his collegiate career came in the '94 opener when Martin dashed for 251 yards against the Texas Longhorns, setting a Big East single-game rushing record. Martin was a first-team All-Big East running back in 1993 after rushing for 1,075 yards. Martin is a member of the 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class.
A third-round draft choice of Washington in 1981, Russ Grimm went on to start 11 seasons at guard for the Redskins (1981-91) and helped lead the team to four Super Bowl appearances and three victories. He was voted to four consecutive Pro Bowls (1983-86) and was a first-team selection to the 1980s All-Decade Team. Grimm was an original member of Washington's renowned "Hogs" offensive line, which also included another all-time Pitt great, Mark May. Grimm is part of the 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class.
A second-round draft pick by New Orleans, Rickey Jackson spent 15 seasons in the NFL (1981-95). He compiled an incredible 128 sacks, which ranked third all-time when he retired following the '95 campaign. Jackson recovered 28 fumbles (second most in NFL history) and forced 41 (fourth all-time). He broke up 118 passes. In 1994, he signed as a free agent with San Francisco and earned a ring that season as he helped the 49ers to a 49-26 victory in Super Bowl XXIX over San Diego. Jackson was a four-time All-Pro selection and six-time Pro Bowler. He is part of the 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class.
Dan Marino was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005. Marino had a legendary 17-year career with the Miami Dolphins. A nine-time Pro Bowler, he retired after the 1999 season holding an incredible 25 NFL regular-season records and as the career leader in passing attempts (8,358), completions (4,967), yardage (61,361) and touchdowns (420). He was also one of the winningest quarterbacks in NFL history, earning 147 regular-season victories, one behind all-time leader John Elway.
Tony Dorsett was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994. When he retired from the NFL following 1989 season, he was the league's second all-time leading rusher with 12,739 yards. Dorsett has the distinction of being one of only two players in the history of football to win the Heisman Trophy, a collegiate national championship, a Super Bowl championship, and to be elected into the college and pro football halls of fame.
Mike Ditka was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988. Ditka was an All-America tight end at Pitt in 1960, his senior season. Ditka's pro football career included All-Pro honors. He also was a member of the Chicago Bears' 1963 NFL Championship squad. Ditka worked as an assistant coach at Dallas for nine seasons, spent 11 seasons as the head coach of the Chicago Bears and three seasons as head coach of the New Orleans Saints.
Joe Schmidt, Pitt's first inductee in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was an All-America linebacker at Pitt in 1952. He went on to spend 13 years with the Detroit Lions, and was a member of the Lions' two NFL championship teams. He later coached the team for six seasons and led Detroit to its only playoff appearance of the 1970s. He was inducted in 1973.
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