Former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis is one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015. The Hall of Fame voters will hold their selection meeting on Saturday, January 31, and the Class of 2015 will be announced that night during the NFL Honors Show (NBC, 9 pm ET).The Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted it's first class in 1963, with 17 deserving men who had been a part of the league's storied history making up the group.
Since then, year after year, a group has been inducted that have included the best of the best, with a total of 287 having the honor bestowed upon them, representing the almost 95 years the NFL has existed.
Those who have been so honored with induction understand the legacy, the tradition, and what being a Hall of Famer means. And they don't take it lightly. They only want the best of the best to join them on the steps of the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio every summer. And while they don't have a say in who gets in, they know they simply want the best.
And Marcus Allen, a Hall of Fame running back who played for the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, thinks Jerome Bettis belongs. He thinks Bettis truly is one of the best.
"We want the best players in there," said Allen. "Jerome Bettis is one of the best."
Bettis, who has been a finalist the previous four years, rushed for 10,571 yards with the Steelers, and amassed 13,662 yards overall in his career, ranking sixth all-time in the NFL, ahead of Allen's 12,243 yards.
Bettis was the Steelers leading rusher from 1996-2001 and in 2003-04, and posted 50 100-yard games with the Steelers and is ranked fifth overall in the NFL with 61 career 100-yard games. He had at least 1,000 yards eight seasons, ranking fifth in the NFL. He was voted to the Pro Bowl six times and capped his career by helping to lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl XL Championship.
Allen weighed in on Bettis, sharing his thoughts on the running back and why he should be a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015.
Marcus Allen on Jerome Bettis:
Allen on what made Bettis a special running back:
"Rarely do you find someone with Jerome's size that was able to do what he did and have not only the combination of speed and power, but tremendous feet and balance. That is a rare combination. You just don't find that with someone his size. They called him 'The Bus' for a reason. He had the athleticism and you can't stress enough the tremendous feet for a guy his size to run the ball the way he did."
Allen on what stands out about Bettis:**
"He had several dimensions to him. He wasn't just a power back. That really needs to be stated. He had several dimensions to his game. He wasn't just a guy who was big and strong. He could run inside, he could run outside. He had tremendous balance. He had quick feet as I said. And we know about the power. He had several dimensions to his game. For a guy to be able to run the ball the way he did at his size, he had to have several dimensions to his game."
Allen on Bettis being able to carry an offense:
"The game has been transformed. It's more of a passing game now. You won't find the workhorse that Jerome was. He was a workhorse. I would guess 40 percent of their offense then was Jerome. He carried the load.
"Everything is geared to stop the quarterback and not the running back now. It was different for us. Everything was geared to stop the running game. The whole focus, regardless of who you were lining up behind whether it was Ben Roethlisberger for Jerome or Joe Montana, while they were the utmost concern, the game was designed to stop the running back first. Now that has changed.
"He was a workhorse. Teams would think we have to stop Jerome first and then focus on others. If we don't stop him we are dead."
Allen on the difference in the game when Bettis played:
"I think we played more in a phone booth and they play in more of a wide open arena today. We played with a fullback, two tight end or three tight end set and at most two receivers. The splits were shorter. The splits are wider now. There are lanes without even trying to create lanes. Not to diminish at all the skill of the players today, I am just saying it was much tougher for a guy like Jerome because it was run the ball first and pass the ball second. Teams had to stop the run and how did you stop that, you stopped the main guy. Everybody knows who is carrying the ball. There wasn't a lot of trickery. There wasn't the option read where you are trying to fake a guy out. It was power football, running downhill, you know who is getting the ball and try to stop him. Today there is more deception so it makes it easier.
"When people know you are coming, and it's the same thing near the goal line, it's all about attitude. Everyone knew who was coming. They knew it was Jerome. On occasion they would fake it and not give it to The Bus and throw it to the tight end, but everyone knew Jerome Bettis was getting the ball."
Allen on Bettis putting a pounding on defenders:
"There is nothing greater, nothing that elevates the emotions of a team more, than a running back that imposes his physical will on an opponent or runs over a defender. The fans love it. It instills psychological implications. Jerome did that. The next guy doesn't want to tackle Jerome."
Allen on Bettis compared to other Hall of Fame running backs:"He does compare, although differently. We are all different, that is the thing. He has more yards than I do. What he did compares to what others did, just each back is different. Hopefully what is different is embraced and not used against him. He is completely different than any of the other backs. John Riggins is a Hall of Famer and he was a bruiser. He was like Jerome, he was a great athlete too who could do a lot of things. Jerome was that physical runner who possessed that athletic skill to be finesse at the same time."
Allen on if Bettis deserves to be in the Hall of Fame:
"I definitely think he does. We want the best players in there. Jerome Bettis is one of the best."