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).Derrick Brooks is a man among men. A linebacker you didn't want to mess with because if you took him on, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Hall of Famer would make sure you paid the price.
But it takes even more of a man, one confident enough in his abilities and skills, to admit it when someone got the best of him.
For Brooks, that someone was former Steelers running back and Hall of Fame finalist Jerome Bettis.
You know, I must admit, yes there were a few collisions and let's just say I wasn't on the end I wanted to be," said Brooks. "I didn't lose many battles one on one in my career. But in my competition, my battles with Jerome, I didn't win as many as I wanted to."
Bettis had one of his most memorable performances with the Steelers against Brooks and Tampa Bay in 2001, when the Steelers won 17-10 at Raymond James Stadium. Bettis pounded the ball and showed his speed against one of the fastest defenses in the NFL. Bettis rushed for 143 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown run, while the offense amassed 220 rushing yards. He moved into 13th place overall in total rushing yards in the NFL that day, and recorded his fourth consecutive 100-yard game. Bettis also showed off his other talents, completing a 32-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jerame Tuman.
Brooks shared his thoughts on Bettis, and what makes him a running back worthy of selection into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Brooks on if Bettis should be in the Hall of Fame:
"I definitely think so. As far as that position, he fits the bill. His application has been approved for lack of a better word. His application is approved. In my opinion I do believe he deserves to be in there this year."
Brooks on Bettis' size, but at the same time being light on his feet:
"It was unusual to see that. That was the unique characteristic about him that made him one of the best at what he did. In the years I played him that was always a major concern, someone as big as he is, as light as his feet as he is and to still have the speed of the smaller backs."
Brooks on Bettis being about to pound the ball home:"He would wear you down all day and then he closed the games for the Steelers. He would have multiple roles, and be like a relief pitcher for the Steelers in a lot of their games, closing out the game when they needed it. He was their Mariano Rivera. If it was a three point lead, and he was in there, you weren't getting the ball back."
Photos from the career of former Steelers running back and Hall of Fame finalist Jerome Bettis.
Brooks on Bettis playing for 13 seasons:**
"When you look at his multiple roles and what he did, he did it over a good period of time. That was one of the more unique things when I think of Jerome. He was able to maintain that over a long period of time with two organizations.
"It is hard to have a long career as that type of back. In the time that we played together the backs weren't as protected as they are now. The game was more violent. For him to sustain that, his size and type of running helped with that. The fact that he took a lot of licks, but more importantly he dished out a lot of licks as well."
Brooks on the licks Bettis dished on him:
"You know, I must admit, yes there were a few collisions and let's just say I wasn't on the end I wanted to be. I didn't lose many battles one on one in my career. But in my competition, my battles with Jerome, I didn't win as many as I wanted to."
Brooks on what it's like for defenses to know he is coming at you:
"He was a great runner throughout the game, but there was something special about him in the fourth quarter. The whole mentality of the team changed. The whole city got excited when it was that time, when the offense needed him to do that and he did. He responded more times than not."