Jerome Bettis

Former Irish Football Greats Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown To Be Enshrined Saturday in Pro Hall of Fame in Canton

Aug. 6, 2015

Former University of Notre Dame football standouts Jerome Bettis (1990-92) and Tim Brown (1984-87) will be enshrined Saturday night in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

In the process Notre Dame will join USC as the two institutions with the most Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees at 12 each.

Notre Dame athletics administrators Reggie Brooks, Mike Danch and John Heisler are expected to attend the ceremonies. Former Irish coach Lou Holtz, who coached both Bettis and Brown, is expected to attend, along with a number of former Notre Dame players who were teammates of Bettis and Brown.

Here are some facts and figures on Bettis and Brown entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame:

  • The addition of Bettis and Brown to the pro hall in 2015 gives Notre Dame 12 enshrinees, tying USC for the college with the most pro football hall of famers.
  • Brown becomes the ninth former Heisman Trophy winner to join the pro football hall. Paul Hornung of Notre Dame also is one of those nine. USC (with O.J. Simpson and Marcus Allen) is the only other school with two in that category.
  • Brown becomes the third first-round NFL Draft pick from 1988 to enter the hall-joining Michael Irvin and Randall McDaniel. Bettis becomes the second first-round pick from the 1993 NFL Draft to go into the hall–joining Willie Roaf.
  • Bettis becomes only the third pro hall of famer to list Detroit as his hometown-joining George Allen and Joe DeLamielleure.
  • Brown becomes only the third hall of famer to call Dallas his hometown-joining Jimmy Johnson and Doak Walker.
  • Bettis becomes the seventh youngest player to be inducted-only Jonathan Ogden, Walter Jones, Curtis Martin, Derrick Brooks, Marshall Faulk and Warren Sapp are younger.
  • Bettis becomes the sixth player who wore #36 to join the hall. Brown becomes the 10th player who wore #81 to join the hall.
  • Both Bettis (1998) and Brown (1993) played once each in the annual Hall of Fame game. The other 2015 inductees will be modern-era players DE/LB Charles Haley, LB Junior Seau and OG Will Shields, senior finalist Mick Tingelhoff, and contributors Bill Polian and Ron Wolf.

Previous inductees with Notre Dame connections are Dave Casper (2002), Nick Buoniconti (2001), Joe Montana (2000), Alan Page (1988), Hornung (1986), George Connor (1975), Wayne Millner (1968), George Trafton (1964), Curly Lambeau (1963) and John “Blood” McNally (1963).

Brown, the 1987 Heisman Trophy winner and a 2009 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, received one of the NCAA’s most prestigious awards in 2012 as recipient of an 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 averaged 116.8 all-purpose yards per game and totaled 22 touchdowns. Brown totaled a then-school record 2,493 receiving yards with 12 receiving TDs and averaged 18.2 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 three TDs. The two-time All-American set a Notre Dame 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 1987 Walter Camp Player of the Year and earned two All-America accolades (1986, 1987), achieving his ’87 All-America 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 one more 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 TD 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 TD in 2001. A member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade team, he was named to nine Pro Bowls (the first two times as a kick returner) 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 TDs during his collegiate career. During the 1991 season, Bettis established program records for most TDs (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 records in rushing yards (150) and rushing TDs (three) after leading the Irish to a 39-28 win over Florida in the 1992 Sugar Bowl.

The Los Angeles Rams selected Bettis as the 10th overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft. During his rookie season, he ranked second in the league in rushing yards (1,429) and was the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year and United Press International NFL-NFC Rookie of the Year. His rushing total was seventh-best 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 the franchise’s leading rusher from 1996-2001 and 2003-04. His 50 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 three All-Pro teams and named team MVP three other times. Bettis added 1,449 receiving yards and 91 total TDs over his 13-year NFL career.