Of course, Bettis had nothing to do with the process. All he had was a resume that certainly looked good enough--13,662 career rushing yards and 91 touchdowns in a 13 year NFL career. But there was evidently a sticking point with the 3.9 yards per carry The Bus averaged during his playing days.
Obviously, statistics must factor into the equation when deciding whether or not someone deserves to be in the Hall of Fame (especially when it involved a skill-position such as running back), but sometimes just watching a player and what he means to his team and how he influences the games he's involved in, that matters more than an extra .01 yards per carry.
At least that's the case when it came to the kind of running back Jerome Bettis was.
Anyone who ever watched Bettis knows why he averaged 3.9 yards per carry, and that's because he was a Mack Truck and not a sports car.
Mack Trucks aren't designed for speed; they're built for carrying the load over the long-haul. This is what Bettis did during his career; this is how he made his mark on the game of football (and on his opponents).
This highlight clip starts off with Bettis saying of that day's opponent and the team who traded him--the Rams--"wait 'til they get a load of me." Few defenses wanted to take on that load, especially as the game wore on, and they wore down.
Obviously, the enshrinement of Bettis in Canton, Ohio, this summer will be a long-time coming and long-overdo. And, as a die-hard fan of the Steelers, it's easy to get frustrated with the process when you know a Hall of Fame player when you see one. However, every year there are at least a half-dozen worthy candidates who don't get in and must wait their turn (sometimes for decades).
Writers, experts, fans and pundits like to compartmentalize Hall of Fame-inductees, "Oh, he's a Hall of Fame player, but not a first ballot Hall of Fame player." What does that even mean?
Years from now, nobody will probably remember that Bettis didn't make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. And, this August, when he's up there on stage giving his induction speech, it might be the last thing on The Bus's mind.
Congratulations, Jerome. Glad to see those writers finally figured out what we've known all along.