Jerome Abram Bettis, nicknamed "The Bus" (born February 16, 1972 in Detroit, Michigan), is a former American football full back for the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers. Bettis is considered one of the best full backs of his era and is fifth on the National Football League's all-time rushing list. As a child Bettis greatly suffered from asthma, and still does to some extent. He is an avid bowler and has credited 300 games.
At Mackenzie High School in Detroit, Bettis was a standout full back and linebacker. As a senior, he was rated the top player in the state by the Detroit Free Press, and was the Gatorade Circle of Champions Player of the Year award winner.
At the University of Notre Dame, Bettis finished his career with 337 rushing attempts for 1912 yards (5.7 yards per rushing attempt avg.), and made 32 receptions for 429 yards (13.4 yards per reception). In his last game as a senior, a 28-3 win by Notre Dame over Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, he rushed 20 times for 75 yards.
Bettis was picked in the first round (10th overall) of the 1993 draft by the Los Angeles Rams. A star even in his rookie year, he rushed for 1429 yards in 1993, and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year. He rushed for over 1,000 in his second season with the Rams but his carries declined as he fell out of favor with the team.
After Rams head coach Chuck Knox retired and was replaced by Rich Brooks, Bettis no longer fit into the team's plans. He was traded to the Steelers in 1996 along with a third round draft pick in exchange for a second round pick in 1996 and a fourth round draft pick in 1997.
His career took an upturn when he was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had been an integral part of the Steelers offense since that time, and until 2001 was a dependable 1,000-yard rusher. Although age had slightly reduced his role, he remained important to the Steelers and was the NFL's 5th leading all-time rusher. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, and 2005. In 2002 Bettis was the recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
After the Steelers' defeat in the 2004 AFC Championship Game on January 23, 2005, Bettis announced that he was considering retirement, but would not make a final decision for several months to prevent the sting of the defeat from clouding his judgement. Later, Bettis agreed to stay with the Steelers for another season. He stated he would love to play in the Super Bowl in 2006 since it was to be played in his hometown of Detroit. His wish came true as the Steelers played in, and won, Super Bowl XL (40) against the Seattle Seahawks on February 5, 2006.
Most people think Bettis acquired the nickname The Bus from legendary Steelers radio color commentator Myron Cope; but Myron only popularized the nickname after hearing a brother of a fellow Notre Dame alumni call Jerome "Bussy" in Green Bay. It was during the Green Bay broadcast that Cope starting using the nickname "The Bus." Jerome credits someone at the Notre Dame school newspaper with first using the now famous nickname.
Off the field, Bettis hosts a Pittsburgh-based television sports and entertainment program called The Jerome Bettis Show. He began a charity called the Bus Stops Here Foundation to aid underprivileged children in 1997. He plans on doing some development on the Detroit River and has also indicated that he may open a chicken farm in the Metro-Detroit area.
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- Won the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1993
- Won the UPI NFL-NFC Rookie of the Year in 1993
- Won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1996