Bettis was inducted along with late San Diego, Miami and New England linebacker Junior Seau, San Francisco and Dallas defensive end Charles Haley, Minnesota center Mick Tingelhoff, Kansas City guard Will Shields, Oakland wide receiver Tim Brown, and contributors Bill Polian and Ron Wolf. It was the largest induction class since 1967.
The former Steelers star was the last of the eight to get inducted, as his older brother John Bettis III introduced him to the Steelers-heavy crowd.
Bettis spoke for over 35 minutes, thanking all of those who he credited with helping him reach the Hall of Fame.
“This night is not about me,” he said. “It’s about all of those who impacted my life.”
Bettis began by thanking his wife–who he called the true superstar of the family–and touching on some personal moments with his daughter and his son. He went on to talk about his youth in Detroit, singling out his older sister and brother before honoring his mother Gladys, who recently overcame a battle against breast cancer. He said he got his toughness from his mother.
“She handled it like a champion,” he told the crowd.
Of his late father, Bettis said, “When my father sent me off to college, he said he didn’t have much to give but a good name, and don’t mess it up. Well, Dad, I hope I made you proud.”
He continued his speech by recalling his journey from the streets of Detroit to the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana, to the Los Angeles Rams and finally, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I need those Terrible Towels going,” Bettis told the cheering throng of Steelers fans. “You have to show these guys what real football fans look like… We had the support of the best football fans in the world.”
Bettis thanked Art and Dan Rooney, his former coach Bill Cowher, before mentioning several of his ex-teammates specifically: Alan Faneca, Joey Porter, Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger, all of whom he said he hoped would eventually join him in Canton.
“For a long time I thought The Bus’ last stop was in Detroit,” Bettis said. “But now I know The Bus will forever run in Canton, Ohio.”