PFHOF Profile: Jerome Bettis

jerome-bettisThere has been a long tradition of great running backs in the NFL but none have been like the man known as “The Bus.”

Every position in football has a certain body type that front offices look for to ensure that they are the most effective players they can be.

They look for lineman with big butts and long arms while receivers are all about big hands and “length.”

Scouts always looking for those physical attributes when trying to find a new star in the league and more often than not it works out.

The same can be said for running backs as they look for solidly built backs that can withstand the damage they are going to take.

They also ensure that these backs are still able to make the moves needed to get out into open space and burn the defence.

Often running backs are on the shorter side with thick legs and have the power to get through a line but the speed to break through the rest of the defence.

If a back doesn’t meet the measurables they are often overlooked as they are not big enough or not long enough to be effective.

That can be a detriment to the league as teams can pass up on some great talent simply because they don’t match the look of most players in that position.

Players are labelled too small and given no chance to show that they can actually do on the field.

There are countless players that are in that boat all due to the fact that NFL teams love the measurable aspects of a player rather than the pure skill they can bring.

Luckily the Los Angeles Rams did not pass up on an unusual looking running back when they drafted Jerome Bettis out of Notre Dame in 1993.

Bettis was not a short compact back with blazing speed like most backs as he was instead a big back that looked almost like a lineman.

He had a big body that made him suitable for defence and yet he was a dominating running back that gave everyone problems.

Teams had never seen a back like him before, one where it was almost impossible to stop him when he got some forward momentum._Bettis

His 243 lbs frame was devastating to the second and third level of the defence who measured far smaller than him.

Yet despite his big frame he had the feet of a regular size running back that could make all the moves necessary to get through the line.

His nickname suited him perfectly for his running style as “The Bus” was a north-south runner who simply went forward and crashed into defenders.

Thanks to that big body and those great feet Bettis made an impact in the league immediately when he finished second in the NFL rushing race in his rookie year.

He earned the Rookie of the Year award for his efforts in his first year and from then on never looked back.

He amassed a total of 13,662 yards in his time with the NFL and became a fan favourite in Pittsburgh after he left Rams.

That popularity stemmed from the fact that he was a unique player and a great person.

He was heralded for his work off the field as much as on the field when he won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2001.

His soft-spoken personality off of the field was contrasted by his big play on the field where he loved contact.

Even so he had to wait some time before earning his spot in the Hall of Fame as there seemed to be something about him that made him a questionable hall of famer.

In every argument that seems to be false though as he has a Super Bowl win, in his last year, and ranks among the most yardage in NFL history.

Both stats and championships are there and yet his rushing style seemed to make most doubt whether he belongs amongst the best the game has ever seen.

That doubt is now gone though as Bettis enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2015 and will join the best backs in the games.


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