Parker: 'Jerome Bettis is a living legend'

The outpouring of love, congratulations and support for Jerome Bettis on Saturday night when he was announced as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015 came as no surprise.

It was the same kind of support and emotion that others showed when the Steelers were riding 'The Bus' to Super Bowl XL. The Steelers were motivated, driven and passionate about getting Bettis to the Super Bowl in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan and winning it for the man who was looked upon by everyone as the definitive leader of the team.

Take a look at former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis during one of his most memorable performances.

"You talk about teams gelling and coming together, he was the glue," said former teammate Antwaan Randle El. "It was because of his history, what he did, his leadership. The Super Bowl was in Detroit and the respect that we all had for him, and not just guys like Hines (Ward) and Joey (Porter), I am talking top to bottom, veterans to rookies, had respect for him. We just wanted to get Jerome to Detroit.

"In the last team meeting when he told us take me home, I want to go home to Detroit. It was a done deal. He was so instrumental that year and in the playoff run and Super Bowl."

Willie Parker, a second-year back in 2005 who stepped into Bettis' starting role, was inspired by Bettis.   

"He led me in the right direction off the field, and on the field he coached me," said Parker, who entered the NFL in 2004 as an undrafted rookie free agent. "If I wasn't doing something right he told me. He showed me the blueprint and told me he was passing it on to me, telling me to do it the right way, the Steelers way.

"He groomed me about Steelers football and what I need to do to be a Steelers' running back. Every day he would talk to me and I respected everything he said. He was always trying to help me, help the team out. He knew I was a part of what the team was doing and he groomed me in that way. I appreciated everything he did for me, everyone did."

Randle El was elated to hear the news that Bettis is one of the newest members of the Hall of Fame, an honor he felt was deserved and long overdue.  

"It means a lot for a guy you know worked hard," said Randle El. "When he came to the Steelers from the Rams he was a totally different back in terms of footwork and speed. For me, the teaching he was able to give me, the encouragement and knowledge for a young guy coming into the league was great.

"I am thankful, I am happy. I am happy for Jerome. He should have gotten in the first year. I don't think he needed a Super Bowl to solidify his career and get into the Hall of Fame, but I think what he did up to that point and then the Super Bowl pushed him over the top."

This August, all of those who played with Bettis, whether it was for a year, five years, or longer, will be smiling as he stands atop the steps of the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio wearing the famed Gold Jacket. It will be at that moment that Jerome Bettis will be where he truly belongs.

"Every time when the ballot came out, I never talked to him about it but I made sure his name was on there as a finalist," said Parker. "It's so deserved. I am speechless. I know he helped me along the way and I am sure he helped a lot of other guys along the way. When they said on television Jerome Bettis was in the Hall of Fame, I was ecstatic and at a loss for words. He deserves it so much.

"I am proud of him. I am privileged I shared a part of my career with a guy of his stature. He means the world to me. I know he means the world to the City of Pittsburgh. Jerome Bettis is definitely a living legend. For him to be in the Hall of Fame…that is where he belongs. That is how it's meant to be."
A little bit of this and that on Jerome Bettis:

* John Lynch, former NFL safety, color analyst for NFL on FOX and a 2015 Hall of Fame finalist on Bettis:*"What Jerome has given to the game, and our battles go back to Stanford-Notre Dame, has been great. He is one of those guys you always had the ultimate respect for because he was immensely talented and handled it the right way. He always had that smile on his face. In the most intense moment of the game, Bus would have a smile on his face.

"Jerome is one of the favorite guys I ever competed against. He was one of the most popular guys in the game for a long time. He did so much for the game."

Steelers Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount on Bettis:"Jerome Bettis to me was a great player and great ambassador for the Steelers. His play was reminiscent of the Steelers of the 1970s when we ran the ball, pounded it and threw it when we had to. We lived and breathed and depended on the running game. That is championship football. You have to be able to run the football, and Jerome did it superbly."

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