CANTON, Ohio – Former Steelers' running back Jerome Bettis was in Canton, Ohio on Friday as the Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Festival was underway.
But, he wasn't there for the reason most thought he should be, as a member of the 2014 Hall of Fame Class. Instead, Bettis was there signing autographs for fans at Giant Eagle as a part of a promotion with Hershey's. And everyone that turned out to see Bettis agreed 100 percent – he should be in the Hall of Fame.
"They still appreciate the former players," said Bettis. "It's great. It makes me feel great. It makes you feel that the work that you put in in that uniform was appreciated and that is good to know."
Bettis, who has been a finalist four straight years, rushed for 10,571 yards with the Steelers, and amassed 13,662 career yards overall, ranking sixth all-time in the NFL. 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.
Bettis knows that patience is the key as he waits to hopefully have his day at the Hall of Fame, but also lives with the peace that no matter what happens he is satisfied with the career he had.
"At the end of the day what you can't do is get consumed by the hope," said Bettis. "I have to be confident in I did everything I could do, I am comfortable with my career the way it went. For me my ultimate goal was to win a championship.
Photos from the career of former Steelers running back and Hall of Fame finalist Jerome Bettis.
"If (the Hall of Fame) doesn't happen, that is great. If it does happen, that is great. You play this game to win a championship, I won a championship. If I am able to get into Canton, that is kind of the icing on the cake. I hope so, but if not it won't be a wasted career, I tell you that."
Bettis also shared his thoughts on a few other topics:
On the Steelers retiring Joe Greene's No. 75:
"It's profound and warranted. When you look back at the start of the dynasty and the organization's turn to greatness, you can look at and pinpoint when that happened. That happened when they drafted Joe Greene. I think it's appropriate he is the guy that gets his retired. He is worthy of it. When you look at it he is the greatest of all Steelers."
On what the Steelers did this offseason in the draft and free agency:
"I like what they did. They focused defensively and understand what they need to upgrade. I think they took the initiative. They have some young players that are going to have to play early. Hopefully they can come in early and produce. I think that is what it boils down to. We need production from some younger guys.
"Traditionally you never really had to. But in this day and age in the NFL with the roster turnover like it is you have to get the production from the young players."