Bettis snubbed for Hall induction again
NEW ORLEANS — There's still no Bus lane leading to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Jerome Bettis, the most productive big-man running back in NFL history, was denied induction again Saturday, the third time he's failed to make the cut. Former Packers linebacker Dave Robinson of Penn State required a lot more patience — he waited 34 years before being chosen as a senior nominee.
Also in the seven-man class of 2013 are former coach Bill Parcells, who waited four years despite taking four different teams to the playoffs; wide receiver Cris Carter, who made it in his sixth year; and three first-year inductees in offensive linemen Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden and defensive lineman Warren Sapp.
Sapp was perhaps the most surprising choice; his inclusion probably meant former Giants star Michael Strahan was left out. Senior nominee Curley Culp, a star in the late 1960s and 1970s with the Chiefs and Oilers, also made it as a senior nominee.
This was seen as Bettis' best shot; unlike the previous two years, there was no other star running back to crowd him out like Marshall Faulk (2011) or Curtis Martin (2012). But despite a half-hour debate about Bettis alone — the 46-member committee spent nearly an hour on Parcells — the only NFL top 10 career rusher not in Canton must wait at least another year.
“I'm not disappointed because I don't get emotionally invested in something I can't control,” Bettis said. “If I get in, good, and, if not, that's good, too, because some great players got in.”
Bettis faces a potentially less-crowded path to Canton in 2014, when the class of eligible first-year candidates (Marvin Harrison, Derrick Brooks, coach Tony Dungy) isn't as deep as the 2013 group.
Like Bettis and Strahan, wide receiver Andre Reed, cornerback Aeneas Williams and linebacker-defensive end Charles Haley made it to the final 10 but weren't chosen. Former Steelers linebacker Kevin Greene didn't make the cut from 15 to 10; neither did the former owners of the two Super Bowl teams, Eddie DeBartolo Jr. (49ers) and the late Art Modell (Ravens).
Robinson was chosen at age 71, or exactly 50 years after he was the Packers' first-round draft pick in 1963. He made 27 interceptions during a 12-year career that ended with the Redskins and included three NFL titles, three Pro Bowls and, later, selection to the NFL All-Decade team of the 1960s.
Robinson, the sixth Penn State player selected, also holds another distinction: He was the first black starting linebacker in the NFL.
“Two big days of my life: Today was one; the other was the birth of my twin boys,” Robinson said.
Allen (Cowboys) and Ogden (Ravens) each made the Pro Bowl 11 times and were considered the dominant offensive linemen of their time. Ogden is the first Ravens player to make it. Carter made 1,101 catches for 13,899 yards and 130 touchdowns; the only receiver with comparable numbers is Jerry Rice. Culp made the Pro Bowl six times in 14 seasons. Parcells won two Super Bowls with the Giants and was the NFL coach of the year twice.