Since 1970 there have been 18 Hall of Fame running backs that left their marks on the game. One of the most overlooked players in the group is former Pittsburgh Steelers’ back Jerome Bettis.
Bettis was drafted out of Notre Dame by the then Los Angeles Rams with No. 10 overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft. Bettis got off to a fast start in the NFL rushing for 1,429 yards in his rookie year and won the Rookie of Year Award in 1993. After three years with the Rams, Bettis was traded to the Steelers in 1996 and the rest was history.
Bettis retired after the team’s historic championship run to the Super Bowl in 2005, finishing his career with 3,479 carries for 13,662 rushing yards, which breaks down to 3.9 yards per carry. Bettis also scored 91 rushing touchdowns and is the sixth all time leading rusher.
‘The Bus’ was one of the most durable and reliable backs of all time. Bettis played in 192 games over his 13 year career and only fumbled 41 times, despite carrying it over 3,400 times in his career which equates to one of the best fumble percentages of all time. Those are staggering numbers but when compared to other Hall of Fame backs they become even more unbelievable. Tony Dorsett carried the ball 2,936 times in his career and fumbled the ball 90 times. Eric Dickerson finished his career with 2,996 carries and fumbled 78 times.
Another stat that favors ‘The Bus’ is his total number of 1,000 yard seasons which he achieved in his career eight times. Marshall Faulk ran for seven 1,000 yard seasons, Marcus Allen achieved three, Earl Campbell racked up five and Dorsett achieved the same number as Bettis which was eight.
The last stat that speaks to Bettis’ greatness is his career rushing yards per game. In his career Bettis averaged 71.2 ypg, which was more than Faulk’s 69.8, Allen’s 55.1, Thurman Thomas’s 66.1 and was very similar to Dorsett’s 73.6 ypg.
When Bettis retired, he was the fifth all time leading rusher, since then only one player (LaDainian Tomlinson) has passed him. As the game continues to change and continues to feature the passing game Bettis’ stats will become more and more impressive, and hopefully he will gain the respect and attention he deserves.
Photo Credit: Associated Press