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).
Chris Doleman played 15 seasons in the NFL, a career that landed him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2012.
During that time he played against some of the best players in the leagues, including Hall of Fame running backs Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith.
He understands what it takes to be a Hall of Famer from the defensive side of the ball, but he also knows what it takes to be a Hall of Famer on the offensive side of the ball having defended against his share of great players.
Doleman is among current Hall of Famers who believe that former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, one of 15 finalists for the Class of 2015, should be on the steps in Canton, Ohio this year as a Hall of Famer.
Doleman shared his thoughts on why Bettis is deserving of being a member of an elite fraternity, the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
What made Jerome Bettis a special running back?"I think what made Jerome special is one his size, but how light he was on his feet. He was not a lumbering running back. He wasn't a bull in a china shop. He could get out on the edge and maybe not shake you out of your shoes, but be elusive enough you can't get a good hit on him. He was also tough enough that he could get you the short yardage."
What made him tough to play against?
"There is more mass to hit. He had quickness, he had power and he had elusiveness. That combination is rare. Usually you get one of the three, two of the three, and you had to prepare yourself for that. You don't get all three like you did with him. If you think he is going to fake you out, then he can run you over. If you think he is going to run you over he will end up setting you up and running around you. The other thing was his speed, his balance and speed.
"He is a qualified candidate for the Hall of Fame. He was a great player and competitor in the National Football League."
He wasn't a shy running back was he? He didn't mind hitting?
"When you went against him and you were coming around the corner, he wasn't one of those guys who was going to cut you. He did the dirty work too. He would stand up there and block. He would protect the quarterback. He was special. He could do so much. Jerome was so instrumental in taking the Steelers to the Super Bowl. Ben (Roethlisberger) never had to play outside of his comfort zone. If there was short yardage, or yardage there to get, he would go out and get it. He would do anything and everything. That separated him from the crowd."
When you play over 13 seasons, the game changes a lot. Was he the type who could adapt?
"Jerome lived in both worlds. He lived in a world where he was tough enough to play against some of the older guys, but he was enough of an athlete to play in today's game as well.
"Back then you were built for it. That was the big thing. Guys were built for it. Jerome could play today, and he could play back in the day. I don't know if many players today could play back in the day. That includes wide receivers and quarterbacks too."
Should he be elected into the Hall of Fame this year?
"Yes, he is due to get in. I think this year could and should be his year.* *What he does have in his favor is I don't see a bunch of first ballot guys going in. What it does is disrupt the flow of guys going into the Hall. You put a first ballot guy in and it bumps somebody out. I don't see that happening this year. That is usually reserved for all-time guys who were number one at their position when they left. I believe it's a good class for him to be associated with and go in."