Back to the point. Bettis is pulling out all the stops in his new autobiography, entitled, The Bus. My Life in and out of a Helmet. The co-author is ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski, so I’ve already lost an incredible amount of respect for the book.
Bettis lets readers in on the aspects of his time in Pittsburgh that haven’t been told to this point. Here’s some key points, as brought to light by Ed Bouchette:
- He faked a knee injury in training camp of 2000, because Kevin Gilbride loved Richard Huntley, and the Steelers couldn’t release Bettis once he got hurt. Well played, seeing as how the Steelers were forced to keep Bettis, and he responded by putting up 1,341 rushing yards.
- Bettis says Cowher and the organization didn’t want to pay Kordell the big bucks after he made the Pro Bowl in 2001. “You bench your Pro Bowl quarterback for a guy who had been out of football for years (Maddox), who hadn’t started an NFL game in 10 seasons?” Bettis wonders in his book. “That just doesn’t happen by accident.” Sorry Jerome, but I think I side with Cowher/the organization on that one.
- Maddox and the passing game were the chief reason the Steelers failed in the 2002 playoffs. Pittsburgh football under Cowher was built on the run. No surprise there.
- Bettis didn’t like the team cutting Tim “The Bus Driver” Lester in 1999. I disagreed with this move as well. Every good running back needs a fullback that they’re comfortable with. As good as LaDainian Tomlinson is today, he owes much of his success to Lorenzo Neal.
- Bettis had an emergency appendectomy in 1999. The best part was the team telling Bettis to keep it quiet, so he was forced to sign in under the alias, Tex Goldstein. For those of you wondering, this is Tex Goldstein.
- According to Bettis, Amos Zereoue wasn’t a hard worker. According to PSaMP Amos Zereoue would trip over his own feet when out in the open field. Not really juicy, Jerome.
- Bettis didn’t like being booed in 2004, when he replaced Duce Staley in a goal line situation. I’m sure that was all cleared up during his final home game, against the Lions, where JB scored 3 touchdowns (I was at that game, he could’ve had 5 or 6) and fans lost their minds to every “Thanks, Jerome” montage that was shown on the big screen (there was about 100 of these).
- Finally, for the little racist in all of us, Jerome was ashamed that his alma mater, Notre Dame, fired Tyrone Willingham after only 3 years. For the record, Willingham was 21-15 at Notre Dame, and endured 5, 30+ point blowout losses in Ty’s 3-year tenure. Those numbers aren’t all that successful, especially when people put Notre Dame on such a pedestal and there is such a commitment to winning. I’m no Notre Dame fan (I actually despise them), but 21-15 isn’t really Notre-Dame-esque.
So Jerome succeeded in giving us a little dirt on or favorite football team, but nothing too risque. Us fans are always fed the bullshit line that “First and foremost, football is a business.” I can’t stand when players say that. Actually, first and foremost, football is a game. Players are so non-committal to the fans of a certain city if they can cash in with a bigger payday somewhere else. We are supposed to just grin and bear the fact that this happens in a business. In a way, I’m not going to get all heated at the Steelers for wanting to release Bettis several years before he retired. Looking back now, its easy to say that Bettis is right, because he has his ring to back him up. However, at the time, Richard Huntley/Amos Zereoue seemed like viable alternatives to the aging Bettis.
I love Bettis and all he’s done for the city and organization. I just won’t criticize my hometown team for wanting to release the now-surefire HOFer. If football really is a business first, then Jerome should have expected a release as he got up there in age. I’m just glad that he wanted to stay in Pittsburgh, and he did whatever it took to stay.
And if you were wondering, the answer to the Jeopardy question is Terry Bradshaw.