One by one, as fans made their way through the line at Giant Eagle at Century Plaza, they shared the same message with Jerome Bettis. They thanked him for taking the time out to sign autographs on a cold morning, and then they wished him luck with the Pro Football Hall of Fame voting that will take place in several weeks, all of them knowing how deserving Bettis is of induction.
"To be at an event like this, and have so many people come out, it is an honor," said Bettis. "For them to take the time out of their schedule and come see me, it means they appreciated the work I put in and was able to accomplish. It feels great."
Bettis is a finalist for the Hall of Fame and has been down the road before as this is the fifth consecutive season he has made it this far. He understands the process, and while he wants nothing more than to be a part of the Class of 2015, he knows everyone who makes it this far is a deserving candidate.
"It's an honor to be in this select group," said Bettis. "It's an honor because you are on a list with 15 great football players that deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. There is nobody on the list that doesn't deserve to be there.
"If it doesn't happen, you understand it wasn't my time but it doesn't diminish anything that happened in my career. If it happens great, but if it doesn't it doesn't take anything away from what I have been able to accomplish."
The Hall of Fame Class of 2015 Modern Era Finalists include: Morten Anderson, Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Don Coryell, Terrell Davis, Tony Dungy, Kevin Greene, Charles Haley, Marvin Harrison, Jimmy Johnson, John Lynch, Orlando Pace, Junior Seau, Will Shields, and Kurt Warner.
The Class of 2015 will be announced in Phoenix, AZ on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015 as a part of Super Bowl XLIX weekend.