Jerome Bettis' Hall of Fame induction announcement didn't simply bring joy and happiness to Bettis and his family, but to everyone who ever took the field with No. 36. A unique group of people share a special connection with Bettis and his accomplishments, and that group would be the men who paved the way for him along the offensive line.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers have spoken about what Bettis means to them, and also what his induction meant to them as they had a significant role in his success as a running back. Recently, former Steelers center Jeff Hartings spoke with Teresa Varley of Steelers.com about Bettis' induction into the Hall of Fame.
When asked the simple question of what it was like blocking for Bettis, Hartings' answer was simple and consice.
"It was a blessing," he said. "The enjoyment of being able to block for him and being on the field watching what he did, it was amazing," Hartings continued. "I remember watching him get through the hole and just run over a defensive back and get another 5-10-15 yards. He was so enjoyable to watch."
Bettis certainly had some memorable moments where a defensive back filled the hole only to see 'The Bus' about to drop his shoulder and send him on his back, but Bettis' size and force isn't all that Hartings was impressed with looking back at his 5 years as Bettis' teammate.
"First of all his foot quickness, the skills that he had, the lateral movement with his quickness, balance and power," said Hartings. "It was amazing the agility, foot quickness and lateral quickness he had despite him being a big running back."
Bettis certainly was a rare brand of running back which hasn't been equaled since his retirement after winning Super Bowl XL in his hometown of Detroit, MI. Hartings' response on Bettis finally getting enshrined could possibly be echoed across Steelers Nation everywhere.
"It's been a long time coming," said Hartings. "When he retired you knew he would be in the Hall of Fame, the question was would he be a first-ballot selection. I thought he would. I look at Jerome, the career he had, even thinking he wouldn't make the Hall of Fame was an insult. The fact that it took five years, I know he is grateful but I felt like he should have been a first ballot. This is so well deserved for him and his family and I couldn't be happier for Jerome."
Jerome Bettis will be enshrined into the Hall of Fame on August 8th at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. The current group of Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Minnesota Vikings in the Hall of Fame game on August 9th to kick off the 2015 preseason schedule.