The third time was not the charm for former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis as he was not elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2013 on Saturday.
Most of the arguments I have read as to why Bettis should not get in right now seem to revolve around the fact that he finished his career with less than a 4.0 yards per average. If indeed this is the general consensus right now, then Bettis, who finished his career with a 3.9 yards per carry average, is being penalized for not having 254 more yards.
It\’s a pretty ludicrous argument considering that Bettis made his living consistently running between the tackles. He was a power back and will never be accused of being back similar to Barry Sanders. If you needed 3 yards, however, Bettis would get it for you, and nobody wore down defenses like he did in the fourth quarter.
One thing that Bettis has going for him is his fumble rate, and voters need to consider this when looking at running backs. During his 13 years in the league Bettis lost 41 fumbles for a career fumble rate of once every 84.9 carries. That\’s a better rate than current Hall of Fame running backs Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Eric Dickerson and Sanders had.
Bettis also had 91 total regular season touchdowns and that should certainly count for something.
Yards are yards and Bettis had 15,111 of them from scrimmage during his career, which currently ranks him 19th all-time in that stat. That\’s 1,669 more than John Riggins, who was inducted back in 1992. Bettis is a running back in the same mold as Riggins, who also finished his career with a 3.9 yards per carry average.
When Bettis finished his career he was fifth on the all-time rushing list and currently sits sixth all-time behind LaDainian Tomlinson, who will not be eligible for election for a few more years. It is understandable that the logjam at the running back position had to be broken before Bettis could get in, but now that Martin and Marshall Faulk have both been inducted, 2014 should be the year for Bettis.