Like many of you, I thought that this would finally be the year that former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis would make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but the selection committee thought otherwise as Derrick Brooks, Walter Jones, Andre Reed, Michael Strahan and Aeneas Williams wound up being the five modern-era selections for the class of 2014. While Bettis failed to make it this year, rest assure that his day is coming.
Of the top 16 all-time career leaders in rushing yards, only Bettis, LaDainian Tomlinson, Edgerrin James and Fred Taylor are currently not in the Hall of Fame. James will be eligible next year with Taylor being eligible in 2016, but neither should be first ballot elections. Tomlinson, however, who will be eligible in 2017, likely will be. Bettis has out-rushed all them except for Tomlinson, who currently sits fifth on the all-time career rushing list with 22 more yards.
While Bettis wasn’t elected this year, he again made it to the final cut of ten along with Charles Haley, Marvin Harrison, Kevin Greene and Will Shields. Those four figure to be his toughest competition in 2015 along with Tim Brown, now that Reed is finally in.
A few other players who will be eligible next year are Isaac Bruce, Kurt Warner, Junior Seau and Orlando Pace, but until Tomlinson is eligible, no other running backs appear to be a threat to Bettis getting in when looking at by position.
The fact that Bettis was a big back that only averaged 3.9 yards per carry also shouldn’t prevent him from eventually getting into Canton as John Riggins proved that back in 1992 when he was enshrined. Like Bettis, Riggins only averaged 3.9 yards per a carry during his 14 year career and while he scored 22 more touchdowns than Bettis did, Bettis had three more 1,000 yard rushing seasons than the long-time Redskin. Also, in addition to out-rushing Riggins by 2,310 yards, Bettis fumbled 17 less times.
So while many of you might be disappointed that Bettis didn’t make the Hall of Fame this year, please know that The Bus will eventually make a stop at Canton. It’s only a matter of time.