Dawson: 'Jerome has put in the work'

Dermontti Dawson knows what Jerome Bettis is going through right now as he went through the same thing a few years back, waiting to see if this will be the year the Hall of Fame will become a reality.

Dawson, the former Steelers center who was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2012, was a finalist the three years prior to his election. Each year when he didn't get in, he knew he just had to be patient and wait his turn and his time would hopefully come.

Bettis, the former Steelers running back who is number sixth all-time in the NFL in rushing, is a finalist for the fourth straight year and Dawson thinks it's his turn and that he is more than ready to be a member of the Hall of Fame.

"Jerome has put in the work and he is worthy of being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame," said Dawson. "With his stats, he has put in the work to qualify."

Bettis began his career with the Los Angeles Rams in 1993 but had his best days once he was traded to the Steelers on draft day in 1996. Bettis was the Steelers leading rusher from 1996-2001 and 2003-04, amassing 50 100-yard games with the team. He rushed for 10,571 yards with the Steelers, and 13,662 career yards.

Bettis' first year of eligibility he was on the list with running backs Marshall Faulk and Curtis Martin. Faulk, who is 10th in NFL history with 12,279 rushing yards, was elected in 2011 and Martin, who ranks fourth with 14,101 yards, was inducted in 2012. Bettis is the only running back among the list of finalists this year.

"I think he should be in there this year," said Dawson. "There are guys in there he has more yards than and better stats to justify him being in there."

Among the NFL's top 10 all-time leading rushers only Bettis and LaDainian Tomlinson are not in the Hall of Fame, and Tomlinson, who retired in 2011, is not yet eligible.

The Class of 2014 will be announced on Saturday, Feb. 1, the day before Super Bowl XLVIII during the NFL Honors Show in New York, and Dawson hopes to hear Bettis' name announced.

"He was a feature back for 13 years in the league," said Dawson. "What made him unusual being a larger than normal back, he was so agile and strong he could take the pounding and be the feature back all of that time. He was a phenomenal runner.

"He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame this year."

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