What: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014 Announcement
When: 7 p.m. ET Saturday
This is the year for Steelers running back Jerome Bettis.
The argument can be made behind why Bettis didn't get in on one of the previous three ballots. This one, though? His yardage total is still sixth of all time - four of the five ahead of him, including contemporary Curtis Martin, are in the hall and the fifth, LaDainian Tomlinson, is a first-ballot Hall of Famer eligible in 2016. He's still, at worst, one of the best big backs of all time. He won a Super Bowl, he excelled as a featured back as well as a goal line runner. Those who want to argue his inflated touchdowns total is due to the late portions of his career as a situational back have to throw out his reduced yards per carry as well.
This is the same Bettis who once had three touchdowns on three carries, having rushed for one yard total.
Stats don't encapsulate him, but they certainly help define him. What Bettis was, in his prime, was a feared clock-killing production machine. few were better than him over his career.
He belongs in the Hall of Fame. Period. Will he get in this year, though? That's a very tough question.
So does Derrick Brooks, one of the best outside linebackers the era saw. At the risk of undermining Bettis's candidacy, Brooks is a rare first ballot deserving candidate. As is Seattle's offensive tackle Walter Jones. He was as technically proficient and outstanding a player as the game saw during his time.
Marvin Harrison is the best all-around receiver the game has seen since Jerry Rice. The last truly supreme receiver before the rise of the historically disproportionate wide receivers (Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Calvin Johnson) began taking over. All three of those guys will be in the Hall of Fame, but none should get in there before Harrison.
Tim Brown, like Bettis, will eventually get in the Hall of Fame. Whether it's this year or not is the real question. He's waited long enough, and he was a bit more well-rounded than Andre Reed, if the two were to be compared directly.
Ray Guy? No. Tony Dungy? If Bill Parcells wasn't a first-ballot Hall of Fame coach, then neither is Dungy. Michael Strahan? Maybe. Critics knock the fact he played left end as a means to diminish his sacks total, but he was a very underrated run defender. Overall, though, the outrage over his lack of first-ballot entry is ridiculous.
Kevin Greene? Very tough decision, but it doesn't seem likely.
Let's put them in order:
Brooks, Harrison, Jones
Bettis, Brown, Strahan
Reed, Dungy, Charles Haley
Greene, Guy, Aeneas Williams, Claude Humphrey, John Lynch, Will Shields, Eddie DeBartolo Jr.
- Jerome Bettis belongs in the Hall of Fame
- Steelers Heroes of the Past: Donnie Shell
- Steelers Film Room: Mike Munchak as an offensive line coach
- 2014 NFL Mock Draft: Steelers select Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
- Ike Taylor likely has to take paycut but Steelers likely can't let him go
- Steelers Heroes of the Past: Carnell Lake was Troy Polamalu without the hair