Bettis says he understands if Hall of Fame votes him down

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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 “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.

90 responses to “Bettis says he understands if Hall of Fame votes him down

  1. Getting in would be a career achievement award, because he was never considered the best running back in the league. I think he should get in, on the theory that retiring 5th in rushing (LT2 passed him since), he belongs in Hall.

    But, I think the HoF voters are generally clueless. It took them forever to put Art Monk in, and he retired leading in receptions. But, they’ve then put a lot of marginal candidates in, and ignored others that I thought belonged.

  2. Very, very average back. Was really only a goal line threat. Wonder when we will discuss Mike Tolbert and Michael Turner for the HOF?


    Lets get some real candidates who were great at their position into the consideration pool.

  3. Bettis is arguably the most overrated RB of all time. LITERALLY a sub 4.0 career YPC. Please don’t besmirch the Hall of Fame by including this good but not great player.

  4. Regardless of the deserving nature of any other player on the list or not on the list, there is no doubt the Bus deserves to be in the HOF. His stats speak for themselves. He played in a blue collar offensive scheme. He was dependable, durable and got you the yards when you needed them. He was a true leader on the team, a good guy, and a fierce competitor. Hopefully he makes it into the HOF.

  5. Bettis had a very nice career but he was one thing, a runner, and he wasn’t overly great at it compared to his peers. He was extremely limited as a receiver, and almost never on the field on passing downs. When was he ever considered a top 5 RB in the league?

    When the only thing you are good at is running, you would hope more for a 3.9YPC career average.

    His reputation for scoring TD’s was even overrated. He averaged exactly 7 a season for his career, and with 22 of them coming in his last two season where he was simply a short yardage back.

    Too many people think arguing against a person for the HOF is an insult, but it is not.

  6. Have to agree with bucrightoff on this one. Every year I hear at least one name that makes me wonder what the heck is going on with the finalists selections. I have nothing against Bettis, I even like the guy, but even Bettis has a point about his own selection.

    Everyone does not need to get a ribbon.

  7. On the flip side, he can cry himself to sleep while holding a Lombardi trophy – something that many Hall of Famer’s can’t do.

  8. He may understand … but will all the pathetic Steelers’ fanboys? Even Tom Brady thinks they’re cry babies.

  9. Pretty Average. If he played today he’d be Mike Tolbert. Has some good runs but doesn’t really scare you, unless you have a cb meeting him 1 on 1.

  10. Sorry I like Bettis and all and he was a productive runner over a good long career but a HoFer? Umm no.

    He was an slightly above average power back on good-to-great teams with great o-lines. I actually can’t even understand how his name is under consideration.

  11. Are you going to put Shaun Alexander in? A guy who played 5 or 6 years less but had substantially better numbers on a per year basis?

    I didn’t think so either.

    Bettis is just another Steelers players whose benefiting from his teams greatness.

  12. To rank so high in yardage with such a low YPC tells me this guy has taken enough of a beating that you’d hope he gets in. Although you could argue that the defenders took the brunt of it.

  13. When the Superbowl was in Indy they had plaster casts of Jerome Bettis’ legs in one section of “The NFL Experience” fan pavilion. I am a big guy. Bettis’ legs were gargantuan in comparison. Each of his legs was literally a well sized adult male. It is something that will stay with me until I die. It made that big of an impression.

  14. All the Bettis hate surprises me. He was a big name back in my mind for a lot of years, he was well respected and he has a ring. He played for a team which wanted him to run hard and run often, he did his job and made those teams great. I say put him in, 6th all time in rushing is not just “good”. Get over yourselves haters.

  15. If the football Hall of Fame had the same standards as the baseball HOF then he would have no chance. He had a long and productive career, but is that enough? During his playing days he was not considered in the top 3 at his position. Since it is the football HOF I think he will eventually get in.

  16. I’m for Bettis. He was dominant on the Rams early in his career and played an integral part in all the Steelers playoff runs.

    Ask any of the defensive players who had to tackle him in the 4th quarter if he belongs. I bet most would say yes.

  17. When you needed yards, you called The Bus. When bitter seahawk fans whine about SB XL I bring up the fact that all they had to do win the game was to stop Jerome Bettis and they would get the ball back with a chance to win the game. They could not. Don’t forget his three passing touchdowns. He was the consummate team player. He accepted a reduced role because that was what his coach wanted. He reduced his pay to stay with his team. If Curtis Martin is in, The Bus should be in.

  18. In fairness to other players, if Bettis is going to get a publicity article then shouldn’t every football player who was at least as good as Bettis also get an article to debate their candidacy as well? To me it’s not news if somebody who is unqualified for the HOF speaks out about not being selected like as if that is noteworthy.

    So why don’t we ask every player that is eligible for the HOF this year and figure out who are the MOST worthy that might not make it or say that it is ok if they don’t make it?

    I just think there has to be countless players who were better or more valuable to their teams than Bettis was. That should be at least 50 players that aren’t even household names like Bettis. And I doubt any of those 50 are going to even make a peep about not making it. What makes Bettis so special that he gets a story? Because he’s a RB that has rushing stats? What stats do OL players have to come up with before you start respecting them that opened the holes for this guy that only averaged 3.9 YPC and virtually no receiving yardage?

    There are Punters and Kickers who deserve to get in the HOF before Bettis does. Don’t crowd the place, get the best players from every position and keep it somewhat exclusive! It takes away from players like Barry if you put a guy like Bettis into a group with him. It’s just not right. If Bettis gets in, then Joique Bell should be automatic!

  19. Jerome Bettis is a really good guy, and I love his attitude about the HOF selection process. Not everyone can get in. Their are only 5 or 6 tickets a year, and many great players are nominated.

    This is the thing that separates football from all of the other HOFs…It’s really, really difficult to get in, and if/when you do make it, it is a very exclusive club.

    In my view, players must be the dominant player of their time to have a strong enough resume for the Pro Football HOF. I think a Kurt Warner-type – top performer for fewer years – has a much stronger case than Jerome. The Bettis case is based on a long career as a good player – the HOF is not for lifetime achievement awards – at least not for on the field accomplishments.

    In my town, you could look at Eddie George or Steve McNair as players with career accomplishments that are HOF-worthy. The reality is that neither is HOF material. Good players, but never dominant for a sustained period. Jerome is in the same class, although he did play a bit longer.

  20. What really hurts Bettis to me, were that even in his best years, there were several guys out there a lot better than him at the position. During his best rushing years I still would’ve rather had guys like Terrell Davis, Barry Sanders, or Curtis Martin. Should that hurt him that he played his best years when other hall of famers were having amazing seasons? Probably not, but I do think it affects the way some people view as more of a compiler than an elite back.

  21. Being in the top 10 all time in rushing is certainly Hall worthy. However, he was never considered the top back while he played. To me, and apparently many other voters, that is the biggest consideration. He was certainly ONE of the upper tier backs but not even close to being the top. That said, he was a monster on the field and incredibly hard to bring down.

  22. They asked Richard Sherman if Bettis should be voted in, his response…………

    “Jerome Bettis was a MEDIOCRE running back okay? MEDIOCRE! Next question”

  23. holeinone09 says:
    Jan 22, 2014 10:53 AM
    Regardless of the deserving nature of any other player on the list or not on the list, there is no doubt the Bus deserves to be in the HOF. His stats speak for themselves. He played in a blue collar offensive scheme. He was dependable, durable and got you the yards when you needed them. He was a true leader on the team, a good guy, and a fierce competitor. Hopefully he makes it into the HOF.

    Dependable? Durable? Leader? Good guy? fierce competitor? None of that makes a HOF player. HOF is about greatness. I like Bettis, but he was not great. Above average, sure, but not great and great makes the HOF.

  24. mrwalterisgod you arguement of him benefiting from being on a great Steelers team, didnt he contribute to thay team for you to say benefiting. I guess we should question Emmitt them, because the line he ran behind was great. You point is irrelevant, he had a good career and deserves to be selected into the HOF in due time, but then again your argument agannst any Cowboy, Packer or 49er must not be that good, just benefits of being on a great team!!

  25. eric30wiz says:
    Jan 22, 2014 11:28 AM
    mrwalterisgod you arguement of him benefiting from being on a great Steelers team, didnt he contribute to thay team for you to say benefiting. I guess we should question Emmitt them, because the line he ran behind was great. You point is irrelevant, he had a good career and deserves to be selected into the HOF in due time, but then again your argument agannst any Cowboy, Packer or 49er must not be that good, just benefits of being on a great team!!

    Key word in your post, good. He had a good career, not a great career. If you let everyone into the HOF that had good careers it would no longer be an honor.

  26. If he gets in, and I would like to see it, if only because his attitude and smile provide such a positive message about the game, I think it is because he was so darn big and yet could wiggle through the line and backers so often. Have not seen it before or since.

  27. I’m a huge Bettis fan, but I’m not sure he was an HOF’er, mainly because he only got 674 yards in 14 playoff games. He did have three 100-yard performances and 9 TDs in the playoffs, so he deserves credit for that.

    When they won the Super Bowl, he had been replaced by Fast Willie Parker. Certainly if he does make it to the HOF, he should realize he’s not on the level of Franco Harris, who was dominant in the playoffs with 1556 yards in 19 games, 17 total TDs, and a Super Bowl MVP award.

  28. He had a good career and you can argue it was a great career, he is 6th all time in rushing, that is 6 best of the thousands that have come before him at the very same position, you can argue Great!

  29. morty999, I said “his stats speak for themselves”. No. 6 all time rushing. Everyone else in the top 10 who is qualified is in the HOF.

    The other traits I mentioned represent character, career duration, leadership, and to me are other characteristics that amounted to the type of player he was. But the career yardage is the main stat that should get him in the HOF. As someone said, defenses didn’t want to tackle him in Q4.

  30. A really solid player you would have loved to have had on your team, but the HOF is supposed to be for the best players ever, and I cannot imagine how anyone would even think Bettis was that good. He was always a good player but wasn’t dominating in any way, and he’s #15 out of the list of 15 candidates.

    He’s in the Hall of Pretty Good, not even the Hall of Very Good. Seriously, if you can’t crack 4.0 YPC in an era when truly great backs like Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Marshall Faulk were going for about 5 ypc, why is this even a debate?

  31. ianwetpantscom says: Jan 22, 2014 10:48 AM

    buy a ticket, just like everyone else. “Attempts” won’t get you in #36.

    Attempts won’t, but 6th ALL-time in rushing yards will. Not to mention there are not many people who can take that many carries in the NFL anymore. He may not have been the flashiest guy, but he had class, he succeeded where most people his size cannot, and he is one of the best short yardage backs of all time.

  32. Numbers have a ton to do with it, but this isn’t fantasy football. The comparisons of Bettis to Mike Tolbert is the biggest laugh I’ve ever had the privilege of reading. THIS is why unintelligent fans deserve to keep their mouths SHUT. It’s absolutely stunning the amount of punishment that big of a back put on opposing defenders who lasted that long in the NFL. Bus had amazing footwork for a man of his size and made defense’s say uncle. I’d like to see what the defenders body looks like that met Bus in the hole for 3.9 yards a carry. Not pretty. 6th all time in NFL history in a POWER BACK.

    PUT ‘EM IN!

  33. apkyletexas says: Jan 22, 2014 11:42 AM

    Certainly if he does make it to the HOF, he should realize he’s not on the level of Franco Harris, who was dominant in the playoffs with 1556 yards in 19 games, 17 total TDs, and a Super Bowl MVP award.
    No one is comparing him to Franco, but if you want to Bettis does have more that 1,500 career rushing yards than Franco…so there is that.

  34. He is SIXTH ALL TIME IN RUSHING YARDS as a big power back. Of course his average yards per carry will be lower. When you carry the ball for a yard or two on the goal line or in short yardage situations, it lowers your yards per carry. He’s the best “big back” to ever play the game. He is 6th all-time in yards. He will get in and join a long list of Steelers already in Canton, no doubt.

  35. Bettis seemed to get like 2.0 YPC until it really mattered, at which point he’d uncork some 20+ yard rumble that left a trail of bodies behind him. Very scary in late game situations, and I say this as a Pats fan.

  36. Hines Ward deserves it over Bettis as far as two Steelers who might be on the bubble in upcoming years. Hines Ward may not have great all round numbers like Bettis total yards. However, Hines Ward has always had good playoff games and he played in many. Bettis has not been a playoff factor in at least half his playoff games. Both players have intangibles beyond pure stats, but Ward is the one with versatility.

  37. What was so great about this guy? He was a big fat guy with speed? And this qualifies him for the HOF because? Logically if you are a big fat ball and you run fast you will be successful. Bettis was the 3rd&1 guy for a reason. He didn’t cut or do anything flashy.. He ran in a straight line to pick up short yardage… woohoo………

  38. Wonder why all these Ravens fans want him to get in? I’m a Ravens fan and think there’s no way he ever should get in.

    He has some great highlights but it’s not enough.

  39. I find some of the comments here both ignorant and annoying. But it doesn’t matter. Fan voices catty no more weight with voters than the opinions of the men who coached these guys or those who played with and against them. And though 15 might be equally deserving, based on the impact they had during the era they played, they’ll be judged on modern-day criteria, with the number of inductees limited for arbitrary reasons. If 15 merit admission, then 15 should be admitted–and those players and coaches who knew them best should have a voice in the decision. But it doesn’t work that way.

  40. People who don’t want Bettis in the Hall have no idea what they’re talking about. Looking at average yards per carry is meaningless for him.

    Bettis put up his numbers when he was the only threat on offense. His starting QBs were Kordell Stewart and Mike Tomczak. He was the Steelers offense- teams knew that the Steelers were going to run heavy, they played run heavy, but Bettis ran over them anyway. He was a battering ram who rarely had a negative play. He was also a leader and the heart and soul of a Super Bowl winning team in the twilight of his career.

    Bettis isn’t the greatest RB of all time, but he’s certainly Hall of Fame caliber. Bettis should have been in over Curtis Martin.

  41. Not to mention that Bettis had incredible feet for a huge running back. He could stutter step and at times seem to pirouette before lowering his shoulder and trucking a defender.

  42. Bettis was a good football player and more importantly a good guy. With that being said, playing for a really long time isn’t a qualification for making the HOF for me. Being the best at your position is. Bettis was never close to the best at his position. He was a very good, borderline Pro Bowler and he doesn’t belong in the Hall.

    If you want to include guys like Bettis, change it to the Pro Football Hall of Above Average.

  43. 6th All Time in rushing yards being thrown around here is silly. Getting into the Hall of Fame isn’t about playing for several years and being consistently solid. Getting into the Hall is for guys who were dominant, unstoppable forces on their teams and at the absolute pinnacle of their profession at their position. Bettis had 2 or 3 years where he even put up Pro Bowl caliber stats.

    He won a Super Bowl when his career was essentially over and Willie Parker carried the team, they gave him the free TD’s to thank him for sticking around so long when they got the ball down to the 3.

  44. one can argue the likes of E.George, Cory Dillion, C. Portis, Ricky Williams, Tiki Barber and Fred Taylor all would have a better case of the HOF then bettis, I call B.S on people saying he played behind bad O-lines, possibly for the RAMS, but the Steelers in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s ran the ball a ton

  45. The reason he is not compared to Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders may be the fact that he was 50-60 lbs. heavier than almost every other running back of his time. At 260 lbs., Bettis has always been compared to other backs of similar stature… a John Riggins or Earl Campbell. I am not a Steeler fan by any stretch of the imagination, but this debate is crazy to me. Bettis’ agility and balance for a player his size was remarkable, and for a man his size to be the 6th all-time leading rusher in league history is a testament to both his durability and ability. And to those pointing to his 3.9 ypc, that is only 0.1 to 0.5 yards behind 7 of top-10 HOF running backs. Only Barry Sanders (5.0) and Jim Brown (5.2) finished with an average of 5 yards or better for their career, which is 0.6 and 0.8 yards better than the next highest average of 4.4 ypc. Emmitt Smith’s career ypc is at 4.2… does this mean he should not be in the HOF because he’s almost a full yard behind both Barry and Brown? Nobody with a sane mind would argue that. 8 of the top 10 running backs were 1st ballot HOF selections. Isn’t this how you separate the greats from the truly greats? Did he have a better career than Emmitt or Barry? Of course not, but did he have a HOF career? 6th all time would say yes.

  46. Bettis is different from other RBs b/c he is/was a big RB. Few, if any, of the current HoF RBs, were big backs. They were the average to small size speed/shifty types.
    The fact that a big back produced as much as Bettis did, as long as he did, in a pass-first era, speaks for itself.

  47. I suppose Bettis is a Hall of Famer. He’s certainly more deserving than Curtis Martin, who I don’t think should be in. But the negatives against him are significant, and I certainly don’t think he’s a slam-dunk pick the way some people will insist he is.

    So, naturally, he’ll probably get voted in unanimously.

  48. Who the heck thinks Jerome Bettis was only ‘very good’?

    That is idiotic.. The only reason he dipped below 4.0 yards per carry is bc he was a short-yardage back his final year or 2 of his career. YPC is irrelevant..

    And if you’re ALL PRO.. that means YOU ARE THE BEST IN THE LEAGUE at your position. He was an All Pro TWICE..

    Great feet, great power, great teammate.. His time is now

  49. Ninety-five percent of you are too young to even give an intelligent opinion on Bettis. There’s Steeler haters out there too.

    You never saw him play in his prime. If you’re 260+ lbs and have 13k+ yards, you should be in the HOF. You’re a unique player and there won’t be another back that big with those yards.

  50. I think it is really funny how the Steelers haters argument always changes. They always so they Steelers of 90’s and early 2000’s were overrated and not good because of the the weak division. Now when a player is up for the HOF they use the the terms “good” or “great” to describe the team and state he was just benefitting from that.

  51. “He was always a good player but wasn’t dominating in any way”

    That right there is why Steeler fans tend to look down on the average football fan. You people don’t know the game and haven’t watched it long enough.

    Never dominating? Are you serious?

  52. Great makes the HOF huh? Why is Sapp in then? Sapp’s last 3 to 4 seasons, no one knew he was still playing.

  53. I forget the exact stat, but Cowher was something like 100 – 5- 1 when the Steelers had a lead going into the 4th. John Madden used to say, “he let the air out of the tires” in the game.

    How? Bettis, that’s how. 3.9 YPC when they new you were coming, down after down after down. Clock ticking, tick tick tick. 3 downs, 12 yards, move the chains. All those teams, coaches, fans on the other side, begging for a chance.

    HOF Career …. First Down, Move the Chains.

  54. Wow, a bunch of statisticians on PFT today, huh? Look, the HOF is not defined purely by stats. Rather it is defined by dominance of their respective eras. Looking at YPC does not indicate greatness. Marcus Allen only averaged 4.1 YPC, as did Franco Harris. Curtis Martin averaged 4 ypc and Emmitt was only 4.2 YPC. The point is that though they did not average 5 YPC like Barry Sanders and others, they were all dominant in their eras.

    Bettis was one of the most fear short-yardage backs to ever play the game. Unless you got him by his legs before he got moving, no one on the field would even attempt to hit him without a LB or a DL in the area to help pull down the 260-pound bull.

    One person actually said that Andre Reed deserves it more, and I cannot help but laugh at that. He was never consistently dominant at any point in his career, but Bettis was a force from 1993 – 2001…. Plus, it wasn’t until his last four years that he fell below the 4 YPC average…

  55. He needs to understand he’s not a HOF player.

    But, popularity will get him in at some point, unfortunately.

  56. Who ever said that you had to be “great” to be in the Hall of Fame? You have to be/have been, “famous”. Gale Sayers did not play long enough to get to 10K yards and almost all his stats were from ’65, ’66 & ’67. He was never an MVP and his team didn’t win anything. But…he had a movie made about him and it made him “Famous”. Look at the lists. Larry Csonka had 8K rushing yards, no MVP but played on a high profile team. Tell me that Csonks should be in and Bettis should not.

    If you are not going to vote Bettis in at 6th All Time, then that should be the mark. You have to be 5th all time or better to get in. There are 29 running backs in the HOF from modern times.

  57. The Bus is worthy of a bust in Canton.

    So is The Rattler (Ken Riley, Cincinnati Bengals, 1969-83) and his 63 interceptions, but his name is generally never mentioned and that’s a crock.

  58. Bettis had a 4.0 average through 11 seasons and 12,353 yards, good enough for 9th highest in the NFL, with all above and some below that in the Hall.

    That he chose to stay two more years in a reduced role, to try to win a championship, should not be held against him. His reduced role was primarily as a short-yardage back. Third and two, hand off to Jerome, 3 yard gain, first down. Lowered his average to 3.9. So what?

    He had exceptional speed and quickness for a big man. In his prime he knocked over HoF linebackers like they were little kids. High character and a team leader. Not being in the HoF would be a travesty.

  59. the man was a 6 time probowler, 3 time all pro, rookie of the year, 6th all time leading rusher, and won a superbowl…. sure he never lead the league in a single year and was never the best player in his position in a given year, but all his peers that actually played the game will tell you in his prime he was one of the best! a man of his size being able to move his feet the way he did is unheard of and he got his yards between the tackles… doing that for 14 years and being productive his entire career is something that simply will never happen again…

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