Bettis, Greene among finalists for Hall of Fame
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Jerome Bettis, the best of the big backs in NFL history, again is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
For the third consecutive year, Bettis is among 15 finalists for the election Feb. 2, the day before the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
Joining him is linebacker Kevin Greene, who played three seasons for the Steelers in the 1990s, and Eddie DeBartolo Jr., a Youngstown, Ohio, native whose San Francisco 49ers teams won five Super Bowls.
Bettis has been a finalist each year since he first was eligible in 2011. He retired after the 2005 season after 13 years, the final 10 with the Steelers. His last game came in grand style in his hometown of Detroit when he helped lead the Steelers to a victory in Super Bowl XL.
Bettis retired as the fifth-leading rusher in NFL history and now ranks sixth with 13,662 yards. Of the top 10 rushers in NFL history, Bettis is the only one not yet in the Hall of Fame who is eligible.
None came close to Bettis' size. He weighed between 255 and 265 pounds when he played. Backs of that size have come and gone, but none had more than one 1,000-yard season. Bettis produced eight of them, and came close to a ninth when, in his 12th season in 2004, he started only six games but ran for 941 yards and 13 touchdowns, helping power a 15-1 regular-season record behind rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
He did all that while overcoming his asthma condition that occasionally forced him to breathe through an inhaler on the sideline.
Bettis spent his first three seasons with the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, who drafted him in the first round in 1993. The Steelers acquired him in a trade before the 1996 season.
Greene played for the Steelers from 1993, when he signed as a free agent, through 1995, when the Steelers won the AFC championship game. He played 15 seasons in the NFL and ranks third in career sacks with 160 since the league first recognized sacks as an official statistic in 1982.
The DeBartolo family that included his father Edward Sr. and sister Denise DeBartolo York, also owned the Penguins and the old Spirit indoor soccer team. The Penguins capped 14 years of DeBartolo ownership by winning their first Stanley Cup in 1991.
Joining the 15 Hall of Fame finalists are two senior nominees. From that group, the 2013 class will elect between four and six to be inducted in Canton, Ohio, next summer. Hall rules stipulate no more than five modern day candidates can be chosen, but both seniors can be named. They will be chosen in a vote of 46 selectors Feb. 2.
NOTE -- The Steelers added a second kicker to their roster for training camp and added a veteran tight end, possibly as insurance in case Heath Miller is not ready for camp. Kicker Daniel Hrapmann and tight end Zack Pianalto signed futures contracts Friday for the 2013 season. Hrapmann signed as an undrafted rookie last season and spent the entire training camp with the Steelers, making all six of his field goal attempts in preseason games. Pianalto was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last summer. He played in 13 games for them in 2011, catching four passes for 40 yards.
First Published January 12, 2013 12:00 am