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Bettis in the Hall of Fame?
I say yes, and on the first ballot. Here's what they had to say about it at PFW
There are 113 faces that stand behind the Canton red rope. It's already an impatient, sweaty, elbowing bunch, and now seven strangers have joined the crowd. Let's see how well these rookies candidates can maneuver through it.
Jerome Bettis (Rams 1993-95, Steelers 1996-2005) — Strangely, prior to his sparse 368-yard output of 2005, his final year, I didn't think "The Bus" had done enough to earn automatic Hall clearance. Yes, he had the numbers, a steady compiler, moving up and through the list of names on the all-time rush chart, past O.J. Simpson, then Marcus Allen and Jim Brown and finally beating out Eric Dickerson (Bettis now sit at fifth all-time, with 13,662 yards). But somehow the act didn't feel complete. All-Pro only twice. Jerome Bettis the jaw-buster, a classic power back. He'd been memorable, but was he really special?
A savage, goring runner in his early days — how many remember his shocking downfield velocity when he first entered the league in 1993? … That Earl Campbell-way about him, exploding through bodies, then grabbing an entrance ramp and hitting the open road.
But the pounding soon cut into his speed, and eventually Bettis settled into a role as a masher, a line-of-scrimmage batterer. Oh, the beautiful footwork was still there, the tip-toeing and near-elegant dance steps amidst the chaos, the ease with which he chipped his way in and out of a hole. But by 1998 or so it was almost all heavy lifting; only four times in 13 seasons did he hold above 3.8 yards per carry. Then came 2005.
Retirement thoughts hounded Bettis after the Steelers' loss to New England in the '04 AFC championship game, the weariness of his work, can the body take it anymore?, etc. Teammates coaxed him back for one more go, and it was his spot service (only 110 carries) during the '05 season that sharply decorated his Canton validity.
Nine touchdowns scored that year, three more in the playoffs. That wild day against the Bears, 101 yards on 17 tries, capped with a massive rhino-burst over Brian Uhrlacher in the black Pittsburgh mud and snow, when the Steelers needed a December sweep to get a playoff position. Finally, his Super Bowl send-off, the confetti and a trophy raised in Detroit, Bus' hometown.
Yep, that's what clinched Bettis for me, the climax, the final clash of the cymbals, not just some big boy hammering into a pile for 13 years then sayonara. It was Tony Bennett, bouncing back, one more time for the younger crowd. It was Hemingway in '51, when they said his typewriter was dead, hitting 'em with The Old Man and the Sea.
Some stories just ring empty without a shot at the end, that final dose of pizzazz. Bettis was the type of runner you didn't want to see just fade away.
I'm hoping MoP can provide an appropriate pic for the writer's description of the "shot at the end, that final dose of pizzazz."