Former University of Notre Dame gridiron standouts Tim Brown (1984-87) and Jerome Bettis (1990-92) are among 15 modern-era finalists who will be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the Hall's Selection Committee meets in New Orleans, La., on Saturday, Feb. 2. This year's enshrinement ceremonies will the mark the 50th year of celebration...
Brown, the 1987 Heisman Trophy winner and a 2009 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, received one of the NCAA'smost prestigious awards a year ago as the recipient of the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award. The first wide receiver to be awarded the Heisman Trophy, Brown became the seventh Notre Dame player to be heralded as the nation's most outstanding college football player.
Brown set 19 different school records during his career. He averaged116.8 all-purpose yards per game and totaled 22 touchdowns. Brown totaled athen-school record 2,493 receiving yards with 12 receiving TDs and averaged18.2 yards per catch. He averaged 23.4 yards on 69 career kickoff returns with three returned for TDs and averaged 13.2 yards on 36 punt returns and threeTDs. The two-time All-American set a single-season record with 1,937 all-purpose yards as a junior in 1986. As a senior, Brown ranked sixth nationally with 167.9 all-purpose yards per game. He led all Irish receivers as a sophomore in 1985 with 25 catches for 397 yards and three TDs and started 10 games. As a freshman in 1984, Brown set the freshman school record with 28 receptions (since broken by Duval Kamara in 2007 and Michael Floyd in 2008). Brown additionally was named the ‘87 Walter Camp Player of the Year and earned two All-American accolades (‘86, ‘87), achieving his ‘87 All-American selection by unanimous vote.
Selected in the first round (sixth overall) in the 1988 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Raiders, Brown played 16 seasons with the franchise and onemore season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As a rookie, he led the NFL in kickoff returns, return yards and yards per return average. During his career, Brown set Raiders' franchise records for receptions, receiving yards and punt return yards. At the time of his retirement, his 14,934 receiving yards were second highest in NFL history; 1,094 receptions were third; and 100 touchdown catches were tied for third. Brown holds the NFL rookie record for most combined yards gained (2,317) and became the oldest player to return a punt for a touchdown in 2001. A member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade team, he was named to nine Pro Bowls and hauled in an NFL-record 75 receptions in 10 straight seasons.
Bettis, one of the most heralded fullbacks in Notre Dame history, played three seasons in an Irish uniform compiling 2,356 career yards (1,927 rushing, 429 receiving) and 27 touchdowns during his collegiate career. During the 1991 season, Bettis established program records for most touchdowns (20) and points (121) in a season. He additionally led the Irish in rushing yards (977) during his sophomore year. Bettis holds Notre Dame's bowl game record in rushing yards (150), longest run (49) and rushing touchdowns (3) after leading Notre Dame to a 39-28 win over Florida in the 1992 Sugar Bowl.
The Los Angeles Rams selected Bettis as the 10th overall pick in the1993 NFL draft. During his rookie season, he ranked second in the league inrushing yards (1,429.) and was the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of theYear and United Press International NFL-NFC Rookie of the Year. His rushingtotal was the seventh-best rushing total in league history. During his three-year stint with the Rams (1993-95), Bettis led the team in rushing each year and topped 1,000 yards on the ground in each of his first two seasons. Bettis joined the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1996 where he rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons with the Steelers and was that franchise's leading rusher from 1996-2001 and 2003-04. His fifty games of at least 100 yards rushing rank first in Pittsburgh's history. At the time of his retirement, his eight 1,000-plus yard seasons was tied for third-best in NFL history and his 13,662 rushing yards ranked fifth all-time in league annals.
Bettis was a member of the Super Bowl XL championship team collecting 43 yards on the ground to help the Steelers surpass the Seahawks with a 21-10 victory. He played in the Pro Bowl on six occasions, was named to the All-Pro team on three occasions and named team MVP three other times. Bettis added 1,449 receiving yards and 91 total touchdowns over his 13-year NFL career.