NFL Betting Favorites: Franco or The Bus?

Posted by Alex Murphy on Wednesday,June 10, 2015 2:08, EST in

If you’re an NFL betting fan or betting enthusiast that is chomping at the bit for the start training camp and the 2015 NFL preseason, you’re in for a treat thanks to this fun-filled mybookie.ag NFL original look at the legendary Hall of Fame careers of former Pittsburgh Steelers’ superstar running backs Franco Harris and Jerome ‘The Bus’ Bettis.

While this column ultimately resulted in a gut-wrenching decision, I am sticking by my guns on my pick of the Steelers’ greatest running back in team history.

With that said, let’s take a look at the careers of both players before I make my selection.

Franco Harris

 

NFL-Betting-Franco-Harris-2015

 

Franco Harris was born on March 7, 1950 in Fort Dix, New Jersey and was the 13th overall selection in the 1972 draft. Harris and played his first 12 years in the NFL with the Steelers and his final year (1984) with the Seattle Seahawks. Standing 6-2 and weighing 230 pounds, Harris was one of the bigger halfbacks in the league during his career, though he was as nimble as any smaller running back anywhere.

In his very first season with the Steelers (1972), Harris was named the league’s rookie of the year by both The Sporting News and United Press International. That season Harris racked up 1,055 rushing yards on 188 carries while averaging a stellar 5.6 yards per carry. Harris also rushed for 10 touchdowns and caught three touchdown passesin his first season to become an instant sensation with Pittsburgh’s large Italian-American fan base, which immediately dubbed themselves “Franco’s Italian Army” while wearing army helmets with his number on them.

Harris was selected to nine consecutive Pro Bowls from 1972 through 1980 and was a First-Team All-Pro in 1977. Harris also broke Jim Brown’s long-standing record by rushing for more than 1,000 yards in eight straight seasons while helping the Steelers win four Super Bowls (1974, 1975, 1978, and 1979).

In 1975, Harris was voted the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl IX after rushing for 158 yards and one touchdown on 34 carries in Pittsburgh’s 16-6 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

 

 

DYK Moment
Did You Know that Franco Harris was the first African-American to win the Super Bowl MVP award?

Harris was a major contributor for the Steelers in all of their four Super Bowl wins in the 70s, posting career totals of 101 carries for 354 yards in Pittsburgh’s four Super Bowl appearances. Harris still owns the league record for career Super Bowl rushing yards (354) while his four career rushing touchdowns are tied for the second most in Super Bowl history.

In his 13 NFL seasons, Harris gained 12,120 yards on 2,949 carries while posting a career 4.1 yards per-carry average. The athletic Harris scored 91 rushing touchdowns while hauling in 307 passes for 2,287 yards and nine touchdowns.

While the Steelers no longer officially retired uniform numbers, the organization has not reissued Harris’ legendary number 32 since he left the team – and it is generally understood that no Steeler will ever wear that number again.

 

NFL-Betting-Franco-Harris-2015

 

Here is a look at Harris’ career statistics.

| Rushing | Receiving |
+———-+—–+————————–+————————-+
| Year TM | G | Att Yards Y/A TD | Rec Yards Y/R TD |
+———-+—–+————————–+————————-+
| 1972 pit | 14 | 188 1055 5.6 10 | 21 180 8.6 1 |
| 1973 pit | 12 | 188 698 3.7 3 | 10 69 6.9 0 |
| 1974 pit | 12 | 208 1006 4.8 5 | 23 200 8.7 1 |
| 1975 pit | 14 | 262 1246 4.8 10 | 28 214 7.6 1 |
| 1976 pit | 14 | 289 1128 3.9 14 | 23 151 6.6 0 |
| 1977 pit | 14 | 300 1162 3.9 11 | 11 62 5.6 0 |
| 1978 pit | 16 | 310 1082 3.5 8 | 22 144 6.5 0 |
| 1979 pit | 15 | 267 1186 4.4 11 | 36 291 8.1 1 |
| 1980 pit | 13 | 208 789 3.8 4 | 30 196 6.5 2 |
| 1981 pit | 16 | 242 987 4.1 8 | 37 250 6.8 1 |
| 1982 pit | 9 | 140 604 4.3 2 | 31 249 8.0 0 |
| 1983 pit | 16 | 279 1007 3.6 5 | 34 278 8.2 2 |
| 1984 sea | 8 | 68 170 2.5 0 | 1 3 3.0 0 |
+———-+—–+————————–+————————-+
| TOTAL | 173 | 2949 12120 4.1 91 | 307 2287 7.4 9

Jerome Bettis

 

NFL-Betting-Jerome-Bettis-2015

 

Jerome Bettis was born on February 16, 1972 in Detroit Michigan and was the 10th overall selection in the 1993 draft by the Los Angeles Rams. As a rookie, Bettis immediately proved that he was going to be a star for years to come by rushing for a stellar 1,429 yards, in the process, being named Offensive Rookie of the Year. Bettis also rushed for over 1,000 yards in his second season with the Rams although his carries declined and he inexplicably fell out of favor with the team.

After Rams head coach, Chuck Knox retired and was replaced by the virtually incompetent Rich Brooks, Bettis found he no longer fit into the team’s plans – although L.A.’s loss would soon become Pittsburgh’s gain,particularly seeing as how they were absolutely desperate.

Bam Morris, Pittsburgh’s featured back in 1995, had pleaded guilty to marijuana possession and was cut by the team in June, 1996. Bettis was traded to Pittsburgh later that summer for the measly cost of a third round draft pick in exchange for a second round pick in 1996 and a fourth round draft pick in 1997.

After Bettis’ arrival in Pittsburgh, his career got right back on track with the fleet-footed big back instantly becoming an integral part of the Steelers’ offense. Bettis rushed for over 1,000 yards six consecutive seasons from 1996 to 2001 before injuries cost him part of the 2002 season, and he began the 2003 season as a back-up to Amos Zereoue.

Despite regaining his starting role midway through the 2003 season, Bettis again found himself a backup to start the 2004 season, this time to former Eagles running back Duce Staley.

However, when an injury held Staley out of action, Bettis stepped in and gained over 100 yards in each of his seven regular season starts, leading to a Pro-Bowl berth for the sixth time in his career.

 

NFL-Betting-Jerome-Bettis-2015

 

Bettis spent the 2005 season as a full-time short yardage specialist and although age had altered his role immensely, he remained a vital cog to the Steelers.

After the Steelers’ defeat in the 2004 AFC Championship Game on January 23, 2005, Bettis announced that he was considering retirement, but would not make a final decision for several months to prevent the sting of the defeat from clouding his judgment. Later, Bettis agreed to stay with the Steelers for another season. He stated he would love to play in the Super Bowl in 2006 since it was to be played in his hometown of Detroit. His wish came true as the Steelers played in, and won, Super Bowl XL against the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 on February 5th, 2006.

For his career, Bettis was named to the Pro Bowl in 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001 and 2004. Bettis won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award in 1996, and in 2002 he was the recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

Bettis finished his 13 NFL seasons as the NFL’s 5th all-time leading rusher with 13,662 yards and 91 touchdowns and also caught 200 passes for 1,449 yards and 3 touchdowns.

 

NFL-Betting-Jerome-Bettis-2015

 

Most people think Bettis acquired the nickname “The Bus” from legendary Steelers radio color commentator Myron Cope, but Cope only popularized the nickname after hearing a brother of a fellow Notre Dame alumni call Jerome “The Bus” in Green Bay.

Bettis credits someone at the Notre Dame school newspaper with first using the now famous nickname.

Here is a look at Bettis’ career statistics.

| Rushing | Receiving |
+———-+—–+————————–+————————-+
| Year TM | G | Att Yards Y/A TD | Rec Yards Y/R TD |
+———-+—–+————————–+————————-+
| 1993 ram | 16 | 294 1429 4.9 7 | 26 244 9.4 0 |
| 1994 ram | 16 | 319 1025 3.2 3 | 31 293 9.5 1 |
| 1995 stl | 15 | 183 637 3.5 3 | 18 106 5.9 0 |
| 1996 pit | 16 | 320 1431 4.5 11 | 22 122 5.5 0 |
| 1997 pit | 15 | 375 1665 4.4 7 | 15 110 7.3 2 |
| 1998 pit | 15 | 316 1185 3.8 3 | 16 90 5.6 0 |
| 1999 pit | 16 | 299 1091 3.6 7 | 21 110 5.2 0 |
| 2000 pit | 16 | 355 1341 3.8 8 | 13 97 7.5 0 |
| 2001 pit | 11 | 225 1072 4.8 4 | 8 48 6.0 0 |
| 2002 pit | 13 | 187 666 3.6 9 | 7 57 8.1 0 |
| 2003 pit | 16 | 246 811 3.3 7 | 13 86 6.6 0 |
| 2004 pit | 15 | 250 941 3.8 13 | 6 46 7.7 0 |
| 2005 pit | 12 | 110 368 3.3 9 | 4 40 10.0 0 |
+———-+—–+————————–+————————-+
| TOTAL | 192 | 3479 13662 3.9 91 | 200 1449 7.2 3

 

 

Analysis: I know that Jerome Bettis rushed for more career yardage than Franco Harris, but ‘The Bus’ also carried the ball 500 more times than Harris while compiling a slightly lesser yards-per-carry average, making Franco Harris the undisputed winner in this player-versus-player matchup.

Harris gained 11,950 career yards as a Steeler, while Bettis rushed for 10,571 while wearing Pittsburgh’s black and gold. Both players were “big” backs, but Franco’s agility was much better than Bettis’ and he was also a much more of a breakaway threat over the course of his career than Bettis was, with The Bus turning into much more of a straight-ahead runner late in his career. Harris’ ability to catch the ball out of the backfield was infinitely better than Bettis’ and the statistics bear that out with Harris catching 307 passes and Bettis nabbing just 200.

Statistics aside, my vote is unequivocally in favor of Franco Harris as the ‘better’ running back in this comparison matchup. I’ve always liked Jerome Bettis (who doesn’t) and his Hall of fame career speaks for itself, but for me I believe Franco Harris was more versatile and more elusive running back, if not quite as hard to tackle as “The Bus.”

Make no mistake about it NFL fans and betting aficionados, Franco Harris was a better performer for the Pittsburgh Steelers than Jerome Bettis.

The Pick: Franco Harris

 

Sources:
NFL.com: http://www.nfl.com/player/jeromebettis/2499642/profile
Pro-football-reference.com: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/H/HarrFr00.htm