Jerome Bettis, Kevin Greene finalists for Pro Football Hall of Fame
Steelers coach Bill Cowher greets Jerome Bettis after he scored a touchdown against the Jets
Feb. 2006: Steelers running back Jerome Bettis kisses the Vince Lombardi trophy after finishing his quest to win the Super Bowl in his home town of Detroit. He announced his retirement from the NFL a short time later.
Hines Ward congratulates Jerome Bettis after the Steelers defeated the Broncos, 34-17, in Denver in 2006.
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Jerome Bettis, the best of the big backs in NFL history, has again become a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
For the third straight year, Bettis is among 15 finalists for an election that will take place in New Orleans Feb. 2, the day before the Super Bowl. Joining him is linebacker Kevin Greene, who played three seasons for the Steelers in the 1990s.
Bettis has been a finalist in each of the years after he was first 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 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 for the Steelers but ran for 941 yards and 13 touchdowns, helping power a 15-1 regular-season record behind rookie quarterback Ben Roetlisberger.
Bettis did all that while overcoming his asthma condition that on occasion 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.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee's 17 finalists (15 modern-era and two senior nominees*) with their positions, teams, and years active follow:
?? • Larry Allen -- Guard/Tackle -- 1994-2005 Dallas Cowboys; 2006-07 San Francisco 49ers
• Jerome Bettis -- Running Back -- 1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams; 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
• Tim Brown -- Wide Receiver/Kick Returner/Punt Returner -- 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders; 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
• Cris Carter -- Wide Receiver -- 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles; 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings; 2002 Miami Dolphins
• Curley Culp* -- 1968-1974 Kansas City Chiefs; 1974-1980 Houston Oilers; 1980-81 Detroit Lions
• Edward DeBartolo, Jr. -- Owner -- 1977-2000 San Francisco 49ers
• Kevin Greene -- Linebacker/Defensive End -- 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams; 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers; 1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers; 1997 San Francisco 49ers
• Charles Haley -- Defensive End/Linebacker -- 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers; 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
• Art Modell -- Owner -- 1961-1995 Cleveland Browns; 1996-2011 Baltimore Ravens
• Jonathan Ogden -- Tackle -- 1996-2007 Baltimore Ravens
• Bill Parcells -- Coach -- 1983-1990 New York Giants; 1993-96 New England Patriots; 1997-99 New York Jets; 2003-06 Dallas Cowboys
• Andre Reed -- Wide Receiver -- 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills; 2000 Washington Redskins
• Dave Robinson* -- 1963-1972 Green Bay Packers; 1973-74 Washington Redskins
• Warren Sapp -- Defensive Tackle -- 1995-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 2004-07 Oakland Raiders
• Will Shields -- Guard -- 1993-2006 Kansas City Chiefs
• Michael Strahan -- Defensive End -- 1993-2007 New York Giants
• Aeneas Williams -- Cornerback/Safety -- 1991-2000 Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals; 2001-04 St. Louis Rams
First Published January 11, 2013 9:45 am