The Pittsburgh Steelers have a long history of Hall of Fame players. Here’s why Alan Faneca deserved the Hall of Fame while Jerome Bettis did not.
For every big Jerome Bettis fan out there, I would like to apologize in advance for what I have to say, but I encourage you to hear me out until the end of this article. The Pittsburgh Steelers have an illustrious history of producing Hall of Fame talent. However, I think the wrong Steeler of the 90s and early 2000s made it in.
I believe offensive guard, Alan Faneca, was yet again snubbed from the Hall of Fame, while Bettis made it in partially due to his reputation.
Jerome Bettis was terrific to begin his NFL career in 1993. As a rookie for the Rams, he earned 1,429 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns on 4.9 yards per carry. In 1996, Bettis had another terrific year where he earned 1,431 yards and 11 touchdowns on 4.5 yards per carry. The following year, Bettis compiled 1,665 yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground for the Steelers.
But despite this dominant stretch early in his career, Bettis was efficient overall in his career as he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry over his 13-year NFL career. In his last 8 NFL seasons from 1998 to 2005, Bettis managed over 3.8 yards per carry just one time. In addition, Bettis wasn’t a well-rounded running back who excelled as a pass-catcher. In fact, Bettis never had a year over 122 receiving yards for the Steelers, and he finished his last six seasons catching for less than 100 yards.
In comparison to a player like Frank Gore, Bettis has nearly 2,000 less rushing yards and has averaged 0.4 yards per carry less in his NFL career.
By the end of his career, Bettis finished with just 2 first-team All-Pros in 13 NFL seasons. Though he did earn a Super Bowl ring late in his career, his numbers indicate he shouldn’t have made it in.
Why another Steelers legend was more deserving
Though we can debate whether or not Jerome Bettis should be in the Hall of Fame, one player every Steeler fan should be able to agree on is Alan Faneca. Offensive guards are often one of the most underappreciated positions in the league, and they don’t often get recognized for their accomplishments. In terms of the best lineman in the history of the Steelers, you could argue that he is number one.
Unlike Bettis, Faneca had a nine-year stretch where you could have argued that he was the very best player in the league at his position. From 2001-2009, Faneca earned 9 Pro Bowls and 6 first-team All-Pros. But despite his dominant run as one of the NFL’s best interior offensive lineman of the 2000s, Faneca was once again snubbed from entering the Hall of Fame in 2020.
Faneca was a road-grading offensive lineman who was always one of the most consistent players on the team. He was also blessed with terrific health throughout his career, as he played in 206 out of a possible 208 games and he didn’t miss a game for 9 straight seasons to close out his career.
While I think that Jerome Bettis was a terrific football player for the Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers, the standards to enter the Hall of Fame should be incredibly strict. I feel that Alan Faneca is a more deserving player of this honor.