Last week the list of nominees for the Football Hall of Fame was released to the public. Of those on the list, three prominent Steelers graced the names of the other players – Jerome Bettis, Dermontti Dawson and Bill Cowher. Jerome Bettis and Dermontti Dawson were finalists last year but overlooked as actual inductees. Last Thursday I posed the question of who you thought, of those three, should get a bust in Canton. The results are in. (And I quite frankly need something other than the O-line to talk/bitch about)
Remember when the Steelers put their money where their mouth was and actually ran the ball well when they said they would? Even with the successes of Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall, the days of Bruce Arians have slowly seen the decline of Steelers smash mouth football. You have to go back to the days of Jerome Bettis and Bill Cowher to witness the true gritty running game that wore down defenses and defensive players longing for the ice bath by the 3rd quarter. And it appears that the majority of NPC readers remember those days. With 48% of the vote Jerome Bettis was selected by NPC readers as the one who will make it to Canton in 2012.
It’s unclear as to whether that same majority feel Bettis deserves to be in the HOF over the other three. But, for the sake of this article, I’m going to asume that those who voted in this poll are also an indication as to who deserves the induction. And really, who can argue AGAINST Bettis and his right to be with the greatest of the greats in Canton, Ohio? Looking at the other running backs on the nominee list, he ranks among the best and should be a finalist this year.
The following running backs have been nominated (asterisk indicates newly nominated): *Tiki Barber, *Stephen Davis, Jerome Bettis, Larry Centers, Roger Craig, Terrell Davis, Eddie George, Curtis Martin, Brian Mitchell (also KR/PR), Gerald Riggs, Herschel Walker, Ricky Watters.
Here are the Top 5 backs within that group:
Jerome Bettis – 13,662 yds, 3.9 yd average, 91 TD’s in 13 seasons
Curtis Martin – 14,101 yds, 4.0 yd average, 90 TD’s in 12 seasons
Ricky Watters – 10,643 yds, 4.1 yd average, 78 TD’s in 11 seasons
Tikki Barber – 10,449 yds, 4.7 yd average, 55 TD’s in 10 seasons
Eddie George – 10,441 yds, 3.6 yd average, 68 TD’s in 9 seasons
Herschel Walker – 8,225 yds, 4.2 yd average, 61 TD’s in 12 seasons (Honorable Mention)
I put Walker in this list as an because he amassed some incredible numbers as an FB – and honestly he deserves a nod.
Curtis Martin, famed Pitt running back in the early 90’s, has more overall yards in fewer seasons than Bettis. But as we know, the Hall is just not all about overall stats. The value Bettis has as a running back puts him above the rest . His big frame and ‘bus’-like running style made him a nightmare for LB’s and Safeties during goal line situations. Bettis amounted 22 TD’s in his final two seasons with the Steelers. That is 26% of the Steelers endzone scores over those two seasons. His average yards per carry dipped in those final two years, but he was invaluable inside the 10 yard line. Martin’s percentage is near the same in his last two seasons, but the Jets scored 23 fewer TD’s than the Steelers in that span. (cont.)