The Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee will determine on the day before the Super Bowl whether Jerome Bettis should be enshrined in Canton. Bettis says that whether he’s voted up or down, he can accept it.
“I understand the process now and I know that I can’t become emotionally invested in the process because when you look at everybody on that list, not just the finalists, you look at the semifinalists, everybody deserves to be in the Hall of Fame,” Bettis told ESPN.com. “The fact that I’m [a finalist] is an incredible honor. Whoever gets in deserves to be in because all of the names on that list deserve to be in, but you can’t put everybody in.”
Bettis is one of 15 modern-day finalists, and under Hall of Fame rules a maximum of five of them can be voted in. Bettis’s numbers would seem to be worthy: He’s sixth all-time in rushing yards, with 13,662, and everyone else who’s in the Top 10 in rushing yards is in the Hall of Fame except LaDainian Tomlinson, who is not yet eligible. Bettis is a six-time Pro Bowler, a two-time first-team All-Pro, and he was among the Top 10 in rushing yards in the NFL five times.
The case against him is that he never led the league in rushing or touchdowns and only led the league in any statistical category once, when he led the NFL in rushing attempts with 375 in 1997. Bettis’s yards per carry average is also low, at just 3.9, and he wasn’t much of a threat in the passing game.
Is that case enough to vote him down?
“You take yourself through that journey and then that disappointment [of not making it] is natural, but you shouldn’t be disappointed because it didn’t affect my career,” Bettis said. “I can’t look at it that way because then it’s kind of tainting my career. I had a heck of a career. I’m proud of everything I accomplished and so that’s kind of the way I look at it. Hopefully my time will come.”
Bettis’s time probably will come eventually. If it doesn’t, he sounds like he’s at peace with it.