I don't recall Bettis ever being called one of the best of all time. Nor was he beyond criticism; I live in Pittsburgh and follow both the local and national sports media. I also watched Notre Dame a lot when Bettis went there and was impressed back then how a guy with his roly poly build was able to be such a good RB.
Bettis was a borderline Hall of Famer who made it mainly due to a long and productive career rather than because he was a dazzling ball carrier. My comment was in reference mainly to what both you and Ambrose wrote. Of course there's a Caste System, of course announcers are biased, and of course Bettis was a beneficiary of it. That's the point of this site is it not? But that doesn't mean he was a talentless bum who was lined up in the backfield for so many years simply because he was a black body. Bettis played a long time, was rarely injured and consistently produced -- moved the chains on third and short, ate up clock, scored a lot of touchdowns, was an asset to an offense. And yes, he was a popular teammate and player in the Caste NFL. Unlike a lot of his contemporaries, he is affable and friendly, including with the public.
Again, to never say anything positive about black athletes doesn't do our cause any good. Even with the Caste System, the NFL isn't going to have featured backs that play for 13 years unless they are doing a lot of things right. You're right that Bettis had a 3.9 yards per carry average in his career -- so did another running back in Canton, John Riggins, another power back known for his durability and long career, who finished with about 2,300 fewer yards than Jerome Bettis.
Smith, Byner, Bettis were all given tons of years to rumble and fumble around, but they had the right "color" to be allowed to do so
Especially Bettis. They even nicknamed him "the bus" if I recall correctly? He was slow and shiftless but the mistral show must go on...↑
We're highlighting that very good players like Gerhart are not working while slow, shiftless players of that other race, examples given, can play and play so more, while the NFL plays along with the so-called deficiencies that the Great race players don't have all the while it is intrinsically present in them.
The big, white,durable back is not playing anymore (Alstott the last?).
The big, white, elusive back is not playing anymore.
The average size, white, elusive back is not playing anymore.
The average size, white, elusive, durable, back is not playing anymore.
So just what back can play in the NFL? The one the same color as these letters.They keep this up long enough the white interest in the league is going to be as empty as the page behind the letters.