In a mad scientist world, Jerome Bettis and Franco Harris could be cloned to make the most imposing running back of all time.
ESPN's Scott Brown spoke with ex-Steelers running backs coach Dick Hoak, who has seen all the Steelers greats both from the sideline and as a player.
He coached 2015 Hall of Fame class member Jerome Bettis, having given his approval to execute a trade for Bettis before the 1996 season. He coached Franco Harris, the franchise's leading rusher, throughout his career.
Harris and Bettis are the top two rushing yards gainers in Steelers history by a huge margin. And both had contrasting styles, according to Hoke.
"Jerome would run over you more, Franco would run away from you," Hoak told Brown. "Franco was probably faster than Jerome, Jerome was more powerful. Franco, he had great, great vision. Jerome had good vision too but not quite as good as Franco. They were different types of backs."
Both highly successful backs. Harris was the league's all-time leading rusher when he retired with 12,120 yards. His 11,950 with the Steelers is the highest in club history. Bettis rushed for 13,662, with 10,571 coming with Hoak and the Steelers.
In August, both will be members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Having two eras represented by running backs with contrasting style speaks to advancement with the evolution of the game while maintaining dedication to certain ideals.
Le'Veon Bell has 2,221 rushing yards in two years, putting him 18th all time in franchise history. He's well on pace to follow in the footsteps of Harris and Bettis, but even for as talented as he is, he won't come within striking distance of either of them until around 2023.