Not many players get to go out the way former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis did as the soon-to-be Hall of Famer had a final season that was unbelievable. If you tried to write it as a script and pitch it to Hollywood, they would likely throw it away.
Not only did Bettis have the defining play of his career in the form of a Week 13 touchdown run against Brian Urlacher and the Chicago Bears, he also went on to win his first and only Super Bowl in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
In a Friday Pro Football Hall of Fame Media Conference, Bettis gave his thoughts on the play against the Bears and the moments leading up to Super Bowl XL.
“I think it kind of symbolizes my career, in terms of, if I had to find a play that signifies, ‘who is Jerome Bettis as a football player,’ then that would probably be the play.”
Bettis then spoke about the pressure he felt leading up to Super Bowl XL.
“That was beyond compare,” said Bettis. “The scrutiny, the storylines, and everything, because, here it is, the biggest event in the world, and I am the number one story in the event.”
Bettis’ story blew up media coverage due to his hints of retirement, and his opportunity to win his first Super Bowl in his hometown. While he likely didn’t want to take credit away from his teammates, he claims it worked out well.
“It was a blessing in disguise,” said Bettis. “It lowered the burden on my teammates. I was able to take the pressure off of a second-year quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger), a first year running back (Willie Parker), and a young football team, and so the cameras kind of all focused on me, and I was able to kind of draw the attention away from the key guys, because they had to have a great football game in order for us to win, and I was able to kind of insulate them from a lot of the media.”
Bettis certainly did take the attention off of his teammates, helping to lessen the distractions and quiet the noise. In terms of if it helped them prepare to win, who’s to say?
In the end, the team rallied around Bettis and they pulled it off.
Despite all of Bettis’ great seasons in the league, especially with the Steelers, the most remembered season will always be 2005. And I imagine Bettis looks back on that season fondly.