Soon-to-be Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis is gearing up to join the all-time greats in Canton next month. While he is finally receiving the recognition he deserves after failing to make the Hall of Fame twice previously, Bettis is not letting this special moment center all around him.
During a Wednesday NFL Media Conference call, Bettis gave his thoughts on a couple players who deserve more praise than they previously have had. One who he believes deserves to be enshrined next year and one who’s already in.
“When I look at some players, the first guy that comes to mind is Alan Faneca,” said Bettis.
Faneca was arguably one of the greatest Offensive Guards of all time, being selected to nine Pro Bowls and All-Pro teams (seven with the Steelers). In addition, Faneca was also a member of the Steelers All-Time team and the NFL 2000s All-Decade team. However, his greatest accomplishment may be anchoring the Steelers offensive line in 2005 and helping the Steelers capture their fifth Super Bowl title.
“He (Faneca) is up this year, so technically he hasn’t gone through the process yet, but I definitely think he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame,” said Bettis. “He was that type (great) of player for many years, we (The Pittsburgh Steelers) had a lot of success running behind him.”
Faneca becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame this year, along with former Green Bay Packers great, Brett Favre and one of the NFL’s loudest mouths that could back it up on the football field, Terrell Owens, among others. While I’m not certain Faneca will get in immediately, he deserves to be in Canton sooner rather than later.
As he was thinking about other players to name, Bettis gave a nice little nugget about where he ranked former Steelers center and current Pro Football Hall of Famer, Dermontti Dawson, in terms of the greatest centers of all time.
“I’ve played with some great players, don’t get me wrong,” started Bettis. “Dermontti Dawson for the longest time, I always felt he should have been in (The Pro Football Hall of Fame) a lot earlier in his career, considering I thought he was the best center to ever play the game. He was that good.”
While there have been many great centers to play the game from Jim Otto to Dwight Stephenson and even former Steelers great, Mike Webster, Bettis’ argument to place Dawson at the top is valid one. Dawson was arguably the best offensive lineman of his era being selected to seven Pro Bowls and six All-Pro teams. In addition, Dawson was a part of the NFL 1990’s All-Decade team and is listed with Webster equally on the Steelers All-Time team as well as having his #63 jersey, along with Webster and other former Steelers greats, not allowed to be reissued.
Despite his disagreements with Dawson’s wait to get into the Hall of Fame, the always light-hearted Bettis ended on a positive note.
“But he got in, so all is forgiven,” chuckled Bettis.
In the end, despite all the media appearances by Bettis going forward during this process and the praise that he will deservedly receive, It’s nice to see him take the spotlight off himself and shine it on two former Steelers greats that deserve more recognition for their contributions to the Steelers and the NFL.