For the fourth straight year, Jerome Bettis didn’t get the phone call he was waiting for.
The former Pittsburgh Steelers (and Rams) rushing legend was not part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2014, as announced Saturday evening at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Michael Strahan, Derrick Brooks, Walter Jones, Andre Reed, Aeneas Williams, Ray Guy and Claude Humphrey were elected to the Ohio shrine and will be inducted in July.
Bettis, who retired in 2006 with 13,662 rushing yards during a 13-year career, will have to wait at least 12 more months to get a bust in Canton. Despite being one of the most effective “big backs” in NFL history, the Detroit native was one of 10 finalists to meet disappointment on the eve of the Super Bowl.
The 5-foot-11, 250-pound Bettis came to the Steelers via trade from St. Louis in 1996 and immediately became a Pittsburgh favorite due to his powerful, yet nimble running style. He had his best season in 1997 with 1,665 yards, but he remained a useful player until age 33, when he called it quits after a Super Bowl win in his hometown.
However, it’s been speculated that his relatively-low yards per carry average of 3.9 hurts his Hall of Fame chances. That appears to be the case, as there were no running backs in this year’s class, so no one was “blocking” Bettis from garnering enough votes.
In addition to Bettis’ empty night, former Steelers linebacker Kevin Greene didn’t get a call despite making the list of finalists for the third consecutive year. Also waiting until next year: Tony Dungy, who briefly played for Pittsburgh in the 1970s before making his name as a superb NFL head coach.