Saturday is game-day again for two former Notre Dame Fighting Irish players Tim Brown and Jerome Bettis, who anxiously await for the call from footballs highest honor. Brown and Bettis are among the 15 finalists that could be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Are the Irish greats deserving of this honor, well here is a case for both players who had outstanding careers at Notre Dame and in the NFL.
Brown, played for Notre Dame from 1984-1987 and set 19 receiving records and collected a number of accolades during his Irish career. As a freshman, Brown set a freshman record with 28 receptions and that was just the start of his career. Over the next three years, Brown would emerge into the superstar scoring 22 total touchdowns, 12 receiving, three on returned punts, three on returned kickoffs earning him the nickname, “Touchdown Timmy.”
Brown caped off his Notre Dame career capturing college football most prestigous honor by winning the Heisman Trophy, the first ever wide receiver to win the award.
His electrifying Notre Dame career propelled him into being selected sixth overall by the Los Angeles Raiders in the 1988 NFL draft. Brown went on to play 17 years in the NFL, 16 for the Raiders before finishing his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brown was just as dominant in the Raiders silver and black as he was while he wore blue and gold. In his rookie season, Brown led the NFL in return yards, yards per return average and kickoff returns. While with the Raiders, Brown set franchise records for receptions, receiving yards and punt return yards. Brown was named to nine Pro Browls, a member of the NFL’s All-Decade team and became the oldest player to return a punt for a touchdown. When Brown retired, his 14,934 receiving yards were second highest in NFL history. His 1,094 receptions and 100 touchdown catches were third most in NFL history.
Bettis played for the Irish from 1990-1992 and he too had a very memorable career in South Bend. Bettis set records and had numerous accolades while playing for the Irish. He led Notre Dame in rushing during his sophomore season with 977 rushing yards.
Bettis was at his best during the 1992 Sugar Bowl victory over the Florida Gators. Notre Dame trailed late in the second half and it looked as though Florida would go on to the easy victory. Bettis had other plans rushing for three Notre Dame bowl record 150 yards rushing, three rushing touchdowns and the longest run from scrimmage 49 yards. Bettis led Notre Dame to a come from behind victory caping off his career.
Bettis finished his Notre Dame career with 2,356 career yards, 1927 rushing and 429 receiving.
The Los Angeles Rams wasted no time selecting Bettis 1oth overall in the 1993 NFL draft. Bettis made the rams proud taking home Offensive Rook of the Year honors finishing second in rushing that season with 1,429 yards.
Bettis played for the Rams for only three seasons but led the Rams in rushing all three seasons and rushed over 1,000 yards his first two years.
In 1996 Bettis joined the Pittsburgh Steelers, becoming their leading rusher for nearly the next decade. Bettis rushed for over 1,000 yards his first six seasons in Pittsburgh and his 50 games of rushing for 100 yards is a franchise record.
Bettis finished his career with a storybook ending as Pittsburgh defeated the Seattle Seahawks to win Super Bowl XL, sending Bettis into retirement as a champion.
Bettis played on six Pro Bowl teams, finished with eight 1,000 yard rushing seasons and his 13,662 rushing yards has him ranked fifth all time.
Brown and Bettis both had outstanding collegiate and professional careers that speak for themselves. Saturday, it should become official that they are going to receive pro footballs highest honor, the call notifying them that they are going to the Hall of Fame.