*Former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 8 in Canton, Ohio as a member of the Class of 2015.
*Former Steelers running back and ESPN NFL analyst Merril Hoge never played with Jerome Bettis, but he has followed Bettis' career as both an analyst and former player, and had nothing but great things to say about him recently.
As someone who has been a supporter of Jerome making it into the Hall of Fame, how happy are you for him?**
"I texted him right after I found out. Jerome speaks for himself. Jerome's numbers speak for themselves. How he played the game. I became a fan of his when I watched him at Notre Dame. He was just special. He was unique. He was always that guy at Notre Dame that other guys, they wouldn't get the job done, and late in the game they would go to Jerome and he would win the game.
"He came to the NFL and did those same things. His career just evolved. When you look at the type of runner he is, he is a unique guy. I know the game takes a toll on you at that position. There is no question about that. He ran like an Earl Campbell, but he withstood the pounding a lot longer than Earl Campbell. I think he is special, unique."
If he the type of back that could run with an old school offense and in an offensive scheme today?
"I think he translates in any decade, any year you want to talk about. What made him special is he has dynamic feet for a big guy. Jerome is thick. To get your arms around him, to tackle him, I guarantee you there are a lot of defenders when the game was over were saying I don't want to do that again.
"He may be one of the ultimate closers in the history of our game. You get a lead, you have five minutes left on the clock, you hand the ball off, you need to finish that clock with a touchdown and he did it a lot."
Photos from the career of former Steelers running back and Hall of Fame finalist Jerome Bettis.
What qualities did he have on the field?**"In the NFL the game is played in the middle of the field. You are not going to run to the perimeter and outrun people, even if you had elite speed. Elite speed is overrated if you can't stop and start and make people miss tackles. That is what he was the best at."
As someone who has been a fan since his Notre Dame days, are you excited about the Enshrinement Ceremony in August?
"What will be exciting, this is another example of where you will see Steelers Nation rise. Not just his style, but how Steelers fans are, he fit perfectly with Steelers Nation and what they are all about. They don't put you in the Hall of Fame for the kind of person you are, the character you are, but he would qualify in that way too." **