Early thoughts on Bettis, Hall of Fame

The NFL will announce its 2011 Hall of Fame class Saturday and former Steelers and Rams running back Jerome Bettis is on the list of 15 finalists.

Here are some early thoughts on Bettis' chances this weekend:

  • Only five players get in, which means it could be a rough numbers game this year for Bettis, who is on the ballot for the first time. In my opinion, there are two first-ballot locks in this year's class: Deion Sanders and Marshall Faulk. Both likely will be voted in this weekend, which leaves just three slots open for 13 players.

  • I do not have a vote so it's hard to gauge the temperature of who's hot and who's not with the committee. Cases will be presented and opinions will be formulated. But from the outside looking in, it may be an either-or scenario between Bettis and Curtis Martin. Both were great running backs. But to elect Martin and Bettis this year would mean the 2011 class would have four first-ballot Hall of Famers, including Sanders and Faulk. That's not the norm and the committee may want to get in some great players who have waited their turn much longer to get inducted into Canton. There's also a chance neither Bettis nor Martin get in on the first ballot.

  • Also keep in mind longtime Steelers center Dermontti Dawson is a finalist. He's been on the ballot since 2005 and failed to make the cut each time. Similar to Bettis, this could be another tough year to get in with only three legitimate slots available.