When Jerome Bettis walked off Ford Field after winning Super Bowl XL it seemed guaranteed that he’d one day take his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However for the fourth straight year the Pittsburgh Steelers’ bruising back has yet to be voted into the hall.
Bettis was a first round draft pick going tenth overall to the Los Angeles Rams in 1993. He spent three seasons with the Rams before being traded to the Steelers in 1996. Bettis surpassed 1,000 yards eight times during his career and finished sixth on the all-time rushing list with 13,662 yards. He also finished with 94 touchdowns.
Bettis was a big, big running back and he’s been categorized as one. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King called Bettis the best big back within the last 25 years and I can’t pin point anyone who could possibly be better.
Bettis’ resume is impressive but it hasn’t gotten him into the Hall of Fame just yet, so why is that?
One reasons Bettis might be getting the cold shoulder is because of yards per carry average. Bettis’ career average was 3.9-yards,a number that’s not too jaw dropping and has played a part in why he isn’t in the Canton yet. Bettis may have been averaging just below four yards a carry but those 3.9 yards were some of the most important yards. Bettis was a lineman playing running back and was almost always good to pick-up those extra one or two yards for a first down or a goal line touchdown.
I find it hard to believe that, that stat is what’s keeping Bettis from being put in the hall. So maybe there’s a little more to it than just that minor stat. Maybe there’s a conspiracy theory against the Steelers and the Hall of Fame. You’ve heard it said before and it’s really not to unrealistic to think.
There are 26 Steelers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a lot of them came from the dominate Steelers of the 1970’s. With 26 players in the Hall of Fame and the most Super Bowl’s in the NFL, are the Hall of Fame voters and the NFL tired of the Steelers always being number one?
Most of the players from the 70’s found themselves in the hall very quickly while others did not. Players like Donnie Shell and L.C. Greenwood were in the same boat as Bettis, very deserving but not immediate entry’s. The most recent Steelers to be enshrined included Dermontti Dawson and Dick Lebeau (inducted as player for the Detroit Lions, though).
Maybe there’s some salty voters who believe the Steelers already have enough and spite Bettis because of that. If that is the case that’s pretty dumb. It’s not his fault he played for one of the NFL’s most successful franchise. Now maybe Steelers’ fans just want to believe in the conspiracy because nothing’s ever good enough us anyways but this theory does sit in the back of my mind when I look at the situation.
Out of all Bettis’ stats the one that intrigues me the most is that during Bill Cowher’s reign with the Steelers. Cowher’s team, when leading an opponent by 10 points or more was 106-1-1. When you’re ahead in the game what do you (usually) do? Run the ball. Bettis played a huge role in this and that’s seriously such an impressive record.
Bettis has all the credentials to be in the Hall of Fame, from the numbers to the fact that he was a dedicated player along with being a tremendous leader. After winning Super Bowl XL that was the icing on the cake for Bettis. There’s no doubt “The Bus” will someday park in Canton but it’s an absolute crime it’s taken this long.