Steel Sensations: Why isn’t ‘The Bus’ in Canton?

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A few weeks back Jerome Bettis was passed over for the Hall of Fame for the 4th consecutive year of his eligibility. At first I couldn’t imagine how this could possibly be. How could “The Bus” not be in Canton already?  It seemed ridiculous. The Bus is 6th all-time in career rushing yards with 13,662. He had an additional 1,449 receiving yards along with 200 receptions and he scored 91 touchdowns in his 13 year career.

To add to those totals, Bettis even threw for 63 yards and 3 scores.  He carried the Pittsburgh Steelers for years and was the centerpiece of their offense from 1996-2001.  How could this man, whose most memorable game, the game against the Chicago Bears in 2005; which turned around the Steelers season and helped get them to the Super Bowl, not be in?  That game is one for the ages around Pittsburgh and one kids’ will tell their grandkids about one day. All great players have a standout moment and that one is Jerome’s.

Bettis also had six pro bowls to his name, won the AP offensive rookie of the year and the AP Comeback player of the year. He’s an all-time player on an all-time organization, why is this man being passed over?

I couldn’t fathom the idea. It made no sense to me.  Then I did some research and while I think he should be and will be in the Hall of Fame, I actually understand why he hasn’t been voted in yet.

While he is 6th on the all-time rushing leader list, he has the 2nd lowest career yards per carry average of the top 28 rushers on that list (I only looked at the top 28). Bettis has a career yards per carry average of 3.9, the standard is generally 4.0.  While the difference is only .1 yard per carry, add that up over a career or even a season and it makes a significant difference.  Only Eddie George, at 3.6; who ranks 25th on the list, is lower. George is not in the Hall.  John Riggins, who ranks 16th on the list, has an equal yards per carry average; and that’s it, the other 26 guys are all higher.  That’s certainly working against The Bus.

Bettis also only had eight 1,000 yard seasons out of the 13 years he played. Yes, his yardage total is impressive and again, I think he’ll get in, but to have five seasons without even 1,000 yards, including the last four years he played, hurts.

Additionally a stat I found that surprised me tremendously was his fumble total. Bettis was always described as sure handed, which is why the fumble against the Colts during the 2005 run was so shocking. Yet, looking at his numbers, he fumbled 41 times in his career, averaging one every 84 carries or if you break it down by games, one every 4.6 games he played. That is not as sure handed as I had thought and again it’s something that the voters are surely looking at when they make their decisions.

Lastly his yards per game average for his career was only 71.2 yards per game.  That number is not overwhelming by any means and I almost think if he didn’t chase that elusive ring until the end and had he retired earlier, he’d already be in because that average would have been higher.

The fact of the matter is that a running back getting a Super Bowl ring just doesn’t mean as much as it does for a quarterback to do so and the voters are not really considering the Super Bowl championship when looking at Bettis’ resume.

So after all the research I did, I can at least stomach why the Bus isn’t in Canton just yet because there are some valid reasons why. I also take solace in thinking this ‘snub’ is only temporary and I don’t believe he’ll wait too much longer.

Yes The Bus is a hall of fame player, his numbers show it, but they also show that he’s going to have to wait a little longer in order to earn that spot amongst the best that have ever played.

Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association http://www.steelnationassociation.com- Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at mike@steelnationassociation.com.

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