From what I’ve seen the consensus seems to be that Bettis is on the bubble in a top-heavy class. People are saying that Derrick Brooks and Walter Jones are locks with the rest being iffy.
Arguing one player over another can be hard, especially when they don’t play the same position, and the NFL caps how many players go in each year.
The argument I’ve seen most often against Bettis is he was never the best back in his era, and his low career yards per carry average of 3.9.
I’m not getting my hopes up on Jerome getting in this year, but I think there’s no doubt he should be in at some point, and here’s why.
We all know where Bettis ranks in career yards (6th) and touchdowns (tied for 10th), and that every RB inside the top 10 in rush yards except Bettis and Ladanian Tomlin are in Canton. That fact alone tells you he should be in there.
The “not the best in his era” argument is silly. Bettis in his prime was competing with Barry Sanders, arguably the best back ever. Do you punish a player for playing at the same time as an all time great? Big Ben will likely face the same problems down the road for playing at the same time as Manning and Brady.
Curtis Martin was enshrined last year and in his best season (2004) he lead the NFL in rushing by 1 yard over Shaun Alexander, but Alexander had 4 more touchdowns than Martin. In the 2 seasons prior to that, Martin wasn’t even in the top 10 in rushing yards!
Not to take anything away from Martin, but my point is that he, like Bettis, wasn’t necessarily dominating the NFL rushing landscape, but he was consistently great for a long time.
In response to the YPC stat I say… overrated. You can get 3.5 yards per carry and be a dominant running back, if you’re a back that doesn’t lose yards often.
Yes, the bus only got about 4 yards per carry, but he got his average on a lot of carries, versus a Chris Johnson who’s going to get 15 on one carry, and then 1 or less on the next 3.
To me, the hall of fame should celebrate differing styles and unique players.
Reggie Jackson struck out more than any other player in baseball history, but the threat of the long-ball was always there. Pete Rose got on base by hitting singles, and getting on base consistently… Both great players.
Consider Jerome Bettis the Pete Rose in this analogy (strictly from an on-the-field comparison).
Bettis played with some bad Quarterbacks as Bill Cowher pointed out earlier this week. Jerome also played with some good defenses, but let’s not discount what Jerome did for those defenses.
Bettis played in an era where time of possession was king. Those defenses thrived on guys like Kevin Greene, Greg Lloyd, Joey Porter, and Jason Gildon getting to the QB… and to be at their best they had to be rested.
Jerome Bettis could grind out the clock better than maybe any running back ever. Everyone likes to talk about Cowher’s record of 108-1-1 when leading by 11+ points, that stat belong to Jerome, not Cowher, with all due respect to Coach.
There’s a lot of good competition with Bettis this year, so I have no idea what will happen. It probably helps that there’s no other running backs this year. Keep your fingers crossed Steeler nation.