Former Steelers' running back Jerome Bettis and linebacker Kevin Greene were among the 15 finalists announced on Thursday for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014. They were selected from an initial list of 126 individuals that included 89 players, 16 coaches and 21 contributors that was then whittled down to 25 semifinalists.
Bettis, who has been a finalist the previous three years, rushed for 10,571 yards with the Steelers, and amassed 13,662 career yards overall in his career, ranking sixth all-time in the NFL.
"Jerome has put in the work and he is worthy of being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame," said Hall of Fame center Dermontti Dawson. "With his stats, he has put in the work to qualify."
He was the Steelers leading rusher from 1996-2001 and in 2003-04, and posted 50 100-yard games with the Steelers. 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.
"He had tremendous feet," said former Steelers running back Merril Hoge, now an NFL analyst for ESPN. "His lateral movement was great for any size. He could play between the tackles, which in the NFL is the majority of where you play. The combination of his size, power and quickness allowed him to be extremely unique and rare."
Greene, a finalist the last two years, played 15 seasons in the NFL, three of them with the Steelers (1993-95). He was a fifth-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 1985, and soared to success in his fourth NFL season when he finished the year with 16.5 sacks. In his three seasons with the Steelers he had 35.5 sacks and two Pro Bowl selections. He finished his career with 160 sacks, 26 fumble recoveries, five interceptions, and recorded three safeties.
"He had such a will to inflict a sack on the quarterback," said Steelers' defensive assistant Jerry Olsavsky, who played linebacker with Greene. "Back in 1993 when Kevin showed up here, that was his main goal. He would always say, 'I have to get to the quarterback.' He would remind you, 'I have to get to the quarterback.' It was a running play and he would still say, 'I have to get to the quarterback,' and we would tell him it's a running play."
The class of 2014 will be announced in New York City on Saturday, Feb. 1, during the NFL Honors Awards Show as a part of Super Bowl XLVIII weekend.
Finalists for Hall of Fame Class of 2014: K Morten Andersen. RB Jerome Bettis, LB Derrick Brooks, WR Tim Brown, Eddie DeBartolo, Jr., Owner, Coach Tony Dungy, LB Kevin Greene, DE Charles Haley, WR Marvin Harrison, OT Walter Jones, DB John Lynch, WR Andre Reed, OG Will Shields, DE Michael Strahan, DB Aeneas Williams.
Jerome Bettis (1993-2005)
- Played for the Los Angeles Rams from 1993-94, the St. Louis Rams in 1995 and the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1996-2005.
- Played in 192 regular season games, totaling 13,662 rushing yards on 3,479 carries (3.9 avg.) with 91 rushing touchdowns. He also recorded 200 receptions for 1,449 yards and three touchdowns.
- Surpassed 1,000 rushing yards eight times in his first nine seasons, including going over 1,400 yards three times.
- Eclipsed the 100-yard mark in a game 61 times during the regular season and three more times in playoff games
- Combined net yardage (15,113) was 19th best all-time at the time of his retirement
- Helped Pittsburgh win Super Bowl XL in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan
- Selected by the Rams in the first round (10th overall) of the 1993 NFL Draft
- Earned Rookie of Year honors from the Pro Football Writers Association and the Sporting News after finishing second in rushing (1,429 yards) and third in total yards from scrimmage in his first season
- Became the eighth rookie to rush for over 200 yards in a single game, when he registered 212 against the New Orleans Saints
- Led the Rams in rushing for all three seasons (1993-95)
- Leading rusher for the Steelers eight times (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004)
- Named Comeback Player of the Year in 1996
- Eight 1,000-plus yard seasons tied for third-best in NFL history when he retired
- His 13,662 ranks fifth all-time in career rushing yards
- Selected to six Pro Bowls (1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2005)
- Named First Team All-Pro twice (1993, 1996)
- Named All-Pro second-team in 1997
- In 10 years with the Steelers, he helped Pittsburgh win five division titles and finish the regular season with a winning record seven times.
- Helped the Steelers reach four AFC Championship games (1997, 2001, 2004, 2005)
- Ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in rushing in five of his first eight seasons, including three times in the top three (1993, 1996, 1997)
- Before Bettis came to Pittsburgh in 1996 and recorded 1,431 in his first season, the Steelers had only one 1,000 yard rusher previous 12 seasons (1992, Barry Foster, 1,690)
- During the time Bettis was a part of the Steelers rushing attack, 1996-2005, Pittsburgh recorded 22,120 rushing yards as a team during the regular season, the second most in the NFL during that time span (Denver - 23,027)
Steelers records held by Jerome Bettis• [1st] Most Games, 100 or More Yards Rushing, Career – 50
• [Tied for 1st] Most Rushing Touchdowns, Game – 3 (vs. Detroit, Jan. 1, 2006; vs. Oakland, Sept. 12, 2004; at Arizona, Nov. 30, 1997)
• [2nd] Most Rushing Yards, Career – 10,571
• [2nd] Most Rushing Yards, Season – 1,665 (1997)
• [2nd] Most Games, 100 or More Yards Rushing, Season – 10 (1996, 1997)
• [2nd] Most Rushing Attempts, Career – 2,683
• [2nd] Most Rushing Attempts, Season – 375 (1997)
• [2nd] Most Rushing Touchdowns, Career – 78
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Touchdowns in a Game – 3 (vs. Detroit, Jan. 1, 2006; vs. Oakland, Sept. 12, 2004; at Arizona, Nov. 30, 1997)
• [3rd] Most Touchdowns, Career – 80
• [Tied for 3rd] Most Touchdowns, Season – 13 (2004)
• [3rd] Most Rushing Attempts, Season – 355 (2000)
• [4th] Most Rushing Yards, Season – 1,431 (1996)
• [Tied for 4th] Most Rushing Attempts, Game – 36 (at New York Giants, Dec. 18, 2004; at Arizona, Nov. 30, 1997)
• [Tied for 4th] Most Games, 100 or More Yards Rushing, Season – 7 (2000)
Kevin Greene (1985-1999)
Pittsburgh notes (1993-95):
- In three seasons with the Steelers (1993-95), Greene recorded 35.5 sacks during the regular season, the fifth most in the NFL during that time period
- Greene's 35.5 sacks from 1993-95 were the most sacks by a player in their first three seasons with the Steelers since sacks became an official statistic in 1982
- During Greene's three years in Pittsburgh, the Steelers recorded 139 sacks as a team during the regular season, leading the NFL over that time span
- From 1993-95, Greene was a part of a Steelers' defense that ranked in the top three in yards per game and in the top 10 in points allowed per game each season
- Played in two conference championship games (1994, '95) and one Super Bowl (XXX) as a member of the Steelers
- Earned All-Pro honors in 1994
- Voted AFC Linebacker of the Year by the NFLPA in 1994
- In three seasons in Pittsburgh, helped the Steelers to two division titles and a combined regular season record of 32-16
Career notes (LA Rams 1985-92; Pittsburgh 1993-95; Carolina 1996, 98-99; SF 1997):
- A former walk-on at Auburn, Greene was drafted by the Rams in the fifth round of the 1985 NFL Draft
- Played in 228 career games during the regular season
- Registered 160 career sacks, ranking third in NFL history since sacks became an official statistic in 1982, trailing only Bruce Smith (200) and Reggie White (198)
- Totaled 8.5 sacks in 14 postseason games
- Recorded three safeties in his career to tie for the fourth most in NFL history
- Named to the NFL's All-Decade team of the 1990s
- Recorded double digit sacks in 10 seasons, the third most all-time behind Bruce Smith (13) and Reggie White (12)
- Led the NFL in sacks in 1994 (14.0) and 1996 (14.5)
- Registered a career-best 4.5 sacks in a 38-16 win over the San Francisco 49ers in the season finale that clinched a playoff spot for the Rams in 1989
- Recorded a sack in nine consecutive games (12/7/97-10/18/98), tying Bruce Smith and Dwight Freeney for the third longest streak in NFL history
- Named to the Pro Bowl five times (once with the Rams, and twice with the Steelers and Panthers)
- Selected first-team All-Pro three times (1989 with the Los Angeles Rams, 1994 with Pittsburgh, 1996 with Carolina)
- Played in six Conference Championship games and one Super Bowl
- Recorded 26 opponent fumble recoveries and five interceptions
- Helped teams to a winning record in nine of 15 seasons
- Named the Defensive Player of the Year by UPI in 1996
- Led his team in sacks in 11 of 15 seasons