Stallworth on Bettis: 'A hero in my mind'


CANTON, Ohio - 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 and Hall of Fame wide receiver John Stallworth talked about Bettis.

What made Jerome Bettis a special running back?
"If you watched Jerome, he played every game and gave his all, whatever needed to be done he was there to do that. You saw that on the field. A great part of what he was about was his leadership. I remember when he said he was going to retire the reaction from some of the players, Hines Ward was in tears. I think when you lose somebody special to you, that is a part of your team and has been a leader and a special friend, it shows that player what he meant to the organization and it's more than just what he meant on the field. Special player, special talent, a part of Pittsburgh and a hero in my mind."


Did you enjoy watching him play?**
"I enjoyed watching him run. You embrace people who perform well and do it consistently. It was always when things were down and you needed something, a run, a first down, a touchdown, it was tight. Jerome was a guy you could depend on. I enjoyed watching that. He performed game in and game out, being called upon and coming up with the answer."

Was he a back that could play during any time?
"He could have played in the 1970s. That was our style. Franco (Harris) right, Franco left, Franco up the middle. Jerome is that kind of guy you could hand the ball to and he is going to come up with the tough yards and break a big one here and there. He could have played with us in the 70s. He had that type of mentality, that tough grind it out mentality.

"It was mentioned to me by John Bankert, who was the head of the Hall of Fame when I went in and when Lynn (Swann) went in, we talked to him before we went in about what it takes to get into the Hall of Fame. He said what it boils down to is if I had to talk about and tell the history of the NFL, could I tell it without mentioning your name. If I couldn't tell it, you deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

"Jerome falls into that just perfectly. I don't think you can talk about the history of this league, especially the goings on in Pittsburgh during his time here. If you look at the things he did in the playoffs and Super Bowl, you couldn't talk about the NFL without mentioning Jerome Bettis' name and that is why he is in the Hall of Fame."

Is there a lot of pride when another Steelers player is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
"We embrace that. It's another family member going in. You look at the consistency over the years. We changed coaches only three times since I have been associated with the Steelers. The consistency has been the Rooney family and what they bring to the table, the family like atmosphere that starts with them and goes through the team. You embrace that. When you look at what we had with Art Rooney Sr. and with Dan Rooney Sr. and now Art Rooney II, that consistency of family is there. It's easy to feel the family context in Pittsburgh. When a member of the Steelers goes in, it's family going in."

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