NFL Hall of Fame: Jerome Bettis denied Hall of Fame class for third straight year

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

The Bus is not headed for Canton just yet.

Steelers running back Jerome Bettis was denied selection as a part of the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame class scheduled to be inducted on Aug. 2, 2013.

Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, coach Bill Parcells, defensive tackle Curley Culp, DT Warren Sapp, David Robinson, WR Cris Carter and OG Larry Allen are the 2013 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

It's a competitive class, for sure, with several who will eventually get in the Hall of Fame.

Bettis is one of them. He rushed for 13,662 yards and 91 touchdowns in his career with the Rams and Steelers. "The Bus" was a figurehead in Pittsburgh during an era where the Steelers re-built a reputation for power running.

During that time, 2012 Hall of Fame inductee Dermontti Dawson became the first center to pull on run blocking assignments. It quickly became a staple of the Steelers running game, as Dawson and Bettis plowed their way to back-to-back AFC Central championships after Bettis arrived in 1996.

Dawson retired in 2000, but Bettis helped lead a rejuvenated Steelers team to a 13-3 record and a division title in 2001. The Steelers were upset by the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game.

Bettis, the Steelers leading rusher that season, missed the divisional round game against Baltimore after a cortisone injection for his leg struck a nerve, numbing the entire leg, leaving him unable to play. The Steelers defeated the defending champion Ravens 27-10, but in the AFC Championship game, the Patriots stuffed the Steelers offense to under 300 yards in the 24-17 victory.

The Patriots defeated the Steelers again in the AFC Championship game in 2004, probably the best Steelers team to not win a championship.

Everything came together in 2005, as the Steelers defeated Seattle for the franchise's fifth Super Bowl championship, a 21-10 win in Super Bowl XL. The game came after a wild divisional round win over the Colts, where Bettis fumbled at the goal line in the fourth quarter.

It left the door open for the Colts to come back, and nearly tie the game at the end of regulation.

The Immaculate Redemption took Bettis, in his final season, from a borderline legendary goat to a triumphant local hero. While his rushing totals and his longevity, considering his size and powerful running style, got him to a third straight year as a finalist into the Hall of Fame, his infectious smile, size and power endeared him to the hearts of Steelers fans.

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