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SteelDogFan
11-03-2007, 10:09 AM
October 30th, 2007

by Mark Madden
October 30th, 2007

Willie Parker joined the Steelers in 2004 as an undrafted free agent. He quickly caught the eye and earned the faith of Coach Bill Cowher, and it was that faith - combined with a lot of injuries - that made Parker the starter in 2005.
I hated it. Parker wasn't good enough to play much at North Carolina. How could he be good enough to start for the Steelers?
Believe it or not, I was wrong. So was then - North Carolina Coach John Bunting.
Parker is not only a competent starter, he's turned into a dominant back. So dominant, in fact, that it's reasonable to say that Parker is as good - right now - as Jerome Bettis was during his Steelers prime.
Want proof? I'd be glad to.
As noted, Parker first started in 2005, rushing for 1,202 yards with a 4.7-yard average. He gained 1,494 yards with a 4.4-yard average last year. So far this season, Parker has 726 yards and a 4.4-yard average. That projects to Parker gaining 1,664 yards over the entire campaign.
Compare those numbers to Bettis' three best years as a Steeler. Sure, that's giving Bettis an edge. But the edge doesn't help much.
Bettis had 1,431 yards and a 4.5-yard average in 1996, 1,635 yards and a 4.4-yard average in 1997, 1,341 yards and a 3.8-yard average in 2000.
Bettis' three-season total: 4,407 yards. Parker's: 4,358 (including this year's projection).
Bettis was great. But the numbers show Parker is in the same ballpark.
At his peak, Bettis was steadier. But Parker is more of a breakaway threat. Bettis posted less big losses. Parker posts more long gains. Bettis was quick and nimble for a power back. Parker is powerful for a speed back.
It's a very even comparison. The raw numbers favor Bettis slightly. But Parker won a Super Bowl as a featured back. Bettis was Parker's backup.
Parker, 26, might leave Bettis in the dust over the long haul. Given Bettis' career total of 13,662 yards over a 13-year career, it's not probable. But it certainly is possible. Parker is young. Riding the bench at North Carolina turns out to be a blessing, because Parker has some extra carries in those legs.
If Parker can match Bettis' longevity - and that's a very big "if" - history may anoint him the better back.
Boy, will I look stupid then.
But at least Bunting will look a lot stupider.

Stlrs4Life
11-03-2007, 10:22 AM
I think it is awfully early to compare them. Plus they are 2 different type backs.

Preacher
11-03-2007, 10:24 AM
Dang...

I think that is the first Madden article that actually was coherent and well written.

You may disagree... but does give us something to think about..

stillers4me
11-03-2007, 10:37 AM
2 different players, 2 different kinds of games. I love how Willie has added a new and exciting dimension to our offense, but there are times I'd kill to be able to put Jerome in for the play.

HometownGal
11-03-2007, 11:31 AM
I think it is awfully early to compare them. Plus they are 2 different type backs.

Yep. Most definitely. :thumbsup:

Good post, SteelDog, and I understand where you are coming from, but at this point in FWP's career, as Dom said above, it is way too soon to compare the two. Jerome was more of a bruiser, where FWP is a bit more razzle dazzle. Bettis ran best north-south and FWP seems to have more success running east-west. I also think Jerome benefitted from a younger and more solid OL, as well as having Danny Kreider as his bouncer. With that being said, however, I believe in my black and gold heart that Willie is only going to get better as the years go by and prove himself to be an elite back in the NFL. :thumbsup::tt02:

fansince'76
11-03-2007, 12:55 PM
To me, comparing FWP to the Bus is like comparing Gale Sayers to Earl Campbell - apples and oranges. But two great RBs, all the same. :thumbsup:

BOXCAR JOEY
11-03-2007, 01:32 PM
plus have you noticed the weight / size difference between the too. No offense to good old JB, but he was fat. He used his weight to push through a line where as parker uses his small size and agility to slip through the cracks of the defenses.

stillers4me
11-03-2007, 01:34 PM
plus have you noticed the weight / size difference between the too. No offense to good old JB, but he was fat. He used his weight to push through a line where as parker uses his small size and agility to slip through the cracks of the defenses.

I swear they must grease that boy up!! :sofunny:

BOXCAR JOEY
11-03-2007, 01:35 PM
I swear they must grease that boy up!! :sofunny:

mmmmmm hope they use KY extra or some good ol' fashioned crisco!

OneForTheToe
11-03-2007, 01:43 PM
They say Brady lathers up with Crisco before the game as well. and, yet, he isn't much of runner - things that make you go huh. :scratchchin:

WWIIOwheelz
11-03-2007, 02:24 PM
The thing I worry about with Parker is the vulnerability he has when making the 2nd and 3rd efforts once wrapped up. I keep wincing as additional players come in to take him down, waiting for the one guy to hit him low and at a bad angle. Bettis always took a lot of pride in knowing how to go down with maximum gain versus minimal damage, and I'm not sure Willy got that (or even if he can, given the differences in running styles.)

In short, I hope his body can withstand the heart he has. It sure is a joy to behold him breaking out of the box and watching the secondary try to catch him. :D

stillers4me
11-03-2007, 02:25 PM
I read somewhere that in "the old days' they would spray their uniforms so they would be slippery.

tony hipchest
11-03-2007, 02:51 PM
To me, comparing FWP to the Bus is like comparing Gale Sayers to Earl Campbell - apples and oranges. But two great RBs, all the same. :thumbsup:

i see alot of intangible similarities between willie and jerome, and think willie is the perfect "mini-bus"

http://i132.photobucket.com/albums/q23/shortyshane_2006/Pimp-Bus.jpg

willie gives so much credit to jerome, and you can still see his influence out there on the field, even down to the "hop-skip-and a jump" after a big gain. both shared the same willingness to put the team on their back and carry them. both are about as well respected, and well liked as teammates, employees, and hero's to kids.

i always thought a large version of barry sanders would be jerome bettis, and a small version of bettis would be sanders.

if jerome weighed 50 lbs less he would have the same speed and burst, and be just as nimble footed as willie.

if willie weighed 50 lbs more he would have the same power and elusiveness, ( i'd like to think longevity) as jerome had.

sure theres a difference, but as long as willie plays, i will always see the influence and team spirit of jerome out there on the field.

its a great transition in my mind.

HometownGal
11-03-2007, 05:24 PM
They say Brady lathers up with Crisco before the game as well. and, yet, he isn't much of runner - things that make you go huh. :scratchchin:

That isn't Crisco - it's KY that his boy toy smeared him up with the night before. :sissies:

Dynasty
11-03-2007, 07:46 PM
i see alot of intangible similarities between willie and jerome, and think willie is the perfect "mini-bus"

Just as long as he is the short bus, and not riding on it. :sofunny:

tony hipchest
11-03-2007, 07:57 PM
Just as long as he is the short bus, and not riding on it. :sofunny:

lol

no that bus is full of all the rb's from THA U (mcgahee, james, portis, gore)

HometownGal
11-03-2007, 09:11 PM
The only thing I've noticed lately about FWP is that he tends to "stutter step" in almost the same manner that Franco did towards the end of his career. With The Bus - he just kept moving and churning those legs and moving forward.

Dynasty
11-03-2007, 09:52 PM
lol

no that bus is full of all the rb's from THA U (mcgahee, james, portis, gore)

:thumbsup:

MACH1
11-03-2007, 09:55 PM
Don't get me wrong I like FWP just as much as everyone else here. But I wouldn't put him in the HOF just quite yet. If he can stay healthy long term and get better with more experience. Maybe
Right now he can't carry a team like Jerome could through the rough spots. IMO

Preacher
11-03-2007, 10:23 PM
Don't get me wrong I like FWP just as much as everyone else here. But I wouldn't put him in the HOF just quite yet. If he can stay healthy long term and get better with more experience. Maybe
Right now he can't carry a team like Jerome could through the rough spots. IMO

Your absolutely right on that...

However, the stat comparison is telling.

GBMelBlount
11-03-2007, 11:00 PM
They say Brady lathers up with Crisco before the game as well. and, yet, he isn't much of runner - things that make you go huh. :scratchchin:

Kinda like the oldest Brady from "the Bunch!":yep:

Stlrs4Life
11-03-2007, 11:20 PM
October 30th, 2007

by Mark Madden

Boy, will I look stupid then.
.


Nah, that's a natural for you Madden.

Galax Steeler
11-04-2007, 06:54 AM
Nah, that's a natural for you Madden.

Agreed:sofunny::sofunny:

Welcome To Smashmouth
11-04-2007, 05:19 PM
Can we just agree that they're both exceptional football players??