For as great a player as he was during his professional career, former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis knows a little something about the delayed gratification that comes along with waiting for an honor that you know that you deserve, even if you do not receive it as early as you might believe you ought to.
Bettis, who played 13 seasons in the NFL between 1993 and 2005, retiring as a long-awaited Super Bowl champion, had the misfortune of retiring in the same season as two of the other greatest running backs in NFL history did, those being LaDainian Tomlinson and Curtis Martin.
The Bus was deemed to be at somewhat of a lesser position then the two aforementioned, with Tomlinson going in before the others as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Martin came a year next. It was finally the big man’s turn in 2015.
Like him, Alan Faneca, one of the greatest guards of his generation, had to wait a number of years before finally getting the greeting from David Baker late last month (though it was only officially revealed that he would be in on Saturday). Bettis conveyed his joy and appreciation for Faneca over the weekend.
“I am so happy for Alan Faneca. He has been deserving for the last couple of years”, he said. “I’m sure that all of that consternation, all of that waiting and being upset about it, that goes out the window right now. He’s in the Hall of Fame. He’s my teammate in the Hall, and you better believe I want him blocking for me. So Alan, congratulations, and I can’t wait to see you in Canton”.
Canton will be crowded with Steelers later this year, as contributor Bill Nunn was also elected in this year’s class, and the class of 2020 still has yet to be honored, which features Troy Polamalu, Donnie Shell, and head coach Bill Cowher.
Unfortunately, it may be a while after this before another goes in. Likely, it will be quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five years after he retires who is the next Steelers to put on the gold jacket that is symbolic of football immortality.
He already has a couple of his teammates in or going into the Hall of Fame now, with Bettis, Polamalu, and now Faneca, as well as his first head coach in Cowher. Antonio Brown is likely the only other teammate with a better than average chance of joining him, though T.J. Watt is making a strong early-career case for himself.