No one can offer a better perspective on the two leading rushers in Pittsburgh Steelers history than Dick Hoak.
He joined Chuck Noll’s staff as a running backs coach in 1972 -- the same year the Steelers drafted Franco Harris in the first round. Hoak later endorsed the Steelers trading for Jerome Bettis after his rushing totals with the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams dropped from 1,429 yards as a rookie in 1993 to 637 in 1995.
Bettis resurrected his career in Pittsburgh and he has joined Harris as the only Steelers running backs who played in the Super Bowl era to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
While Bettis is sixth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list with 13,662 yards his 10,571 rushing yards with the Steelers are second to Harris (11,950) in franchise history.
“Jerome would run over you more, Franco would run away from you,” said Hoak, who coached the Steelers running backs from 1972-2006. “Franco was probably faster than Jerome, Jerome was more powerful. Franco, he had great, great vision. Jerome had good vision too but not quite as good as Franco. They were different types of backs.”
And both great in their own right.