On April 20, 1996 the Pittsburgh Steelers made a trade with the St. Louis Rams for a tailback that what going into his fourth season as a professional. The Steelers gave up a second and fourth round pick in order to receive Jerome Bettis and a third round pick from the Rams. Looking back at it, that trade was a huge win for the Steelers.
That trade filled a need for the Steelers at running back since there starter at the time; Bam Morris, was arrested on drug possession and no one knew if he was going to be able to play. Getting Bettis went on to work out for the Steelers over the years. In his first six seasons with the Black and Gold, he rushed for 1,000 yards. In 1997, Bettis had his best statistical season as a pro, rushing for 1,665 yards, and what would have been more if he wasn’t rested the last game because the Steelers already secured a playoff spot.
Even through the early 2000’s when Bettis was hurt, or had to be the back-up because the Steelers decided to start someone else, he still stuck it out and somehow found the spotlight. He stuck with the team that seemed to try and find ways to not let him be the workhorse late in his career. In 2003, the Steelers decided to start Amos Zereoue over him, and then again in 2004 he played back-up to Duce Staley. Then again in 2005 the rise of “Fast” Willie Parker forced “The Bus” to short yardage duty, but when he was called upon he came up big for his team.
Bettis went out like any professional athlete would love to go out; on top. Bettis played his final game in his hometown of Detroit, and that game was the Super Bowl. The Steelers won that game over the Seattle Seahawks, and sent Bettis on his way out the door in style. They figured they would have sent him off to the Hall of Fame, but yet after being on the ballot a third time he has yet to get voted in.
After retiring, Bettis finished his career with 13,662 yards and 91 touchdowns, that puts him at No. 6 all-time for rushing yards, and No. 10 all-time for rushing touchdowns. Being in the top 10 of the two major categories at your position should make you a lock for a first ballot Hall of Famer. Bettis was also a six-time Pro Bowler, won the Comeback Player of the Year Award twice, and 2002 he won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award; which mostly has to do with off the field work, but still shows that he was the consummate professional on and off the field.
The wait has gone on long enough, a player with those stats, and the ability he had combined with the size of him, makes him worthy enough to be elected into the prestigious club they call the Hall of Fame. It is a shame that he has not been elected into it yet, and the fact that he as to go through the balloting a fourth time is a shame. Some people will say it is because he was a Steeler, and most folks believe that the Steelers already have enough representation in the Hall of Fame, and to that I say it shouldn’t matter what team you play for.
If he would have put up those numbers on any other team; he would have most likely been in that Hall of Fame already. You can’t base your vote on the logo that is on the players helmet, but it should be based on the production that said player puts up. Bettis deserves to be alongside all those other greats, and he shouldn’t have to wait this long to join them.
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