Jerome Bettis chats with The Scores Report

Ask any defender that has tried to tackle Jerome Bettis and we’re sure each and every one of them has their own horrifying tale. The 250-pound running back rushed for 13,662 yards and 94 touchdowns in his successful career, while also racking up six Pro Bowl appearances and claiming the 1993 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, the 1996 NFL Comeback Player of the Year and the 2001 Walter Payton Man of the Year awards. Did we mention he also won a Super Bowl?

“The Bus” has teamed up with DiGiorno for their “You Bettis Believe” sweepstakes, which runs through February 12th and will award one lucky winner (along with 10 of his or her friends) a chance to win a fantasy football draft party hosted by DiGiorno and Jerome. The winner and his group will be heading to Las Vegas in August for the draft and of course, the chance to meet Jerome Bettis. All you have to do to sign up is visit Facebook.com/Digiorno for a chance to win.

Along with providing more details on the “You Bettis Believe” sweepstakes, Jerome was more than happy to talk a little football with us. We asked him what his most memorable moment was from the Steelers’ run to the Super Bowl in 2005, what was the hardest hit he ever laid on a defender and what he thinks it’ll take for the Steelers to get back in title contention. He also filled us in on where Bill Cowher may wind up when he decides to start coaching again.

The Scores Report: Hey Jerome, how are you this is Anthony.

Jerome Bettis: How you doing, Anthony?

TSR: Real good, I appreciate your joining me today.

JB: Oh, not a problem.

TSR: Talk to me a little bit about this DiGiorno’s sweepstakes that you’re a part of. This fantasy football draft in Vegas sounds like a great time.

JB: The sweepstakes is called “You Bettis Believe” and all you have to do is go to Facebook.com/DiGiorno and register to win the fantasy football draft party in Las Vegas. You get the opportunity to go out to Vegas and have a fantasy football draft with me. We’ll talk football, pizza; it’s the best sweepstakes you could ever win. The 12th of February is the last day you can enter so make sure you go to Facebook.com/DiGiorno to sign up.

TSR: How did you get involved in a sweepstakes like this, Jerome? Have you worked with DiGiorno before?

JB: I’m a big DiGiorno fan. My wife loves making the pizza at home, so it was a great fit. I love to eat, as you can probably tell, and pizza is my favorite past time so it’s been a terrific fit.

TSR: (Laughs) What’s your favorite DiGiorno pizza?

JB: (Laughs) It’s the DiGiorno quick rising crust!

TSR: Have you participated in any fantasy football leagues now that your career is over?

JB: I have not actually, so this will be my first one.

TSR: Will you have the opportunity to be in the league or are you just going to be a part of the draft in Vegas?

JB: I’ll be a part of the draft but you never know – maybe they’ll convince me to get a team.

TSR: I highly recommended you get a team – it’s fun. Okay, I win the sweepstakes and I’m heading to Vegas in August – what advice do you give me in the first round?

JB: The way I look at it is you have to do your homework on this past year. It’s a no-brainer to go with a guy like Peyton Manning, but Drew Brees has also put up good numbers back-to-back years in terms of touchdowns, so there are quite a few great choices. For years, especially with the first pick, you always looked at taking running backs. But I think there are a couple of quarterbacks that are worthy of taking high now.

TSR: Has DiGiorno told you about the details yet for how long you guys will be in Vegas?

JB: Not yet, but any time you get out to Vegas it’s a great time and when you’re with 10 of your buddies playing fantasy football, believe you me it’s going to be fun.

TSR: I’m sure there are going to be a lot of significant others worried about the combination of pizza, fantasy football, Jerome Bettis and Las Vegas. I see some break ups happening.

JB: I don’t think this will cause any break ups! You get to have the same opportunity to have the draft party you’ve always had, but with a different back drop. I don’t think it’s cause for concern for any significant others.

TSR: (Laughs) I’m sure you’re right! No, it sounds like a great time. Do you mind if I ask you a couple football questions.

JB: Absolutely!

TSR: With the playoffs going on, which player or team has impressed you the most, or what team are you looking forward to watching that hasn’t played yet?

JB: Obviously Tony Romo has been very impressive to me. To watch him perform at the level he has played at has been very impressive. If I’m going with one guy right now, it’s Tony Romo because nobody expected him to play this well given what has happened to him in December and in the postseason in the past. For him to play this well lately is pretty special.

TSR: Now that the Cowboys have gotten the playoff monkey off their back, do you see them continuing to play well and reaching the Super Bowl?

JB: I think they’re over the hump. The Super Bowl is a lot to ask right now because they have to have a one-game-at-a-time mentality, but they’re going into Minnesota this weekend to play a Vikings team that they can beat. Anything is possible and I’ll tell you what, I like Dallas’ chances.

TSR: I look at a team in the Baltimore Ravens, who you know very well from your playing days, and I compare them a little bit to your Pittsburgh Steelers in terms of having to go on the road throughout the playoffs. Your Steelers team a couple years ago won on the road as a team and were able to reach the Super Bowl, but how hard is it to consistently win when you don’t have home field advantage in the playoffs?

JB: It’s really hard to do, but it’s all about the type of team you have and the makeup of your football team. I like Baltimore’s makeup and they have what it takes but unfortunately, this is a bad matchup for them this weekend. The Colts present a lot of problems for the type of team that Baltimore is. They’re not a high scoring football team and they like to do a lot of blitzing; all those things kind of play into the hands of the Colts. They haven’t been able to beat the Colts the last seven times they’ve played them and I just think it’s a matchup problem. Any other team and I like their chances, but this is a team in the Colts that are led by Peyton Manning and who always seem to be one step ahead of them.

TSR: The Colts have a very underrated defense and obviously the Jets and Cowboys are very good. But do you feel like these playoffs are lacking a little bit on the defensive side?

JB: I think they’re lacking in certain areas, but you have the Jets that have a great defense, Baltimore is very good and the Cowboys are also playing very well. So you do have some good defensive football teams, but they’re being overshadowed by these high-scoring offenses.

TSR: How do your Steelers get back on the right track?

JB: First things first, they have to get back to establishing the running game. They have to be a different type of running team; they don’t need to be the Pittsburgh Steelers of old, who ran the ball 60% of the time. But they do need to be a Pittsburgh Steelers team that can run the ball when they need to. When everyone in the stadium knows that they’re going to run the ball and they still are able to run it and pick up a first down, I think that’s what they need and that’s what has been missing over the last couple of years.

TSR: What’s your take on head coach Mike Tomlin?

JB: I like coach Tomlin and I think he’s doing the right things. I think he made a statement this offseason by firing the offensive line coach (Larry Zierlein) and sent the message that: We are going to get back to running the football. I don’t think there’s any stronger message then firing the offensive line coach and replacing him with a guy (Sean Kugler) whose forte is run blocking. So, I think they’re going to get back to running the ball, which is something they’ve sorely missed.

TSR: Where do you think your old head coach Bill Cowher will wind up?

JB: He’s going to wind up in New York at some point. I think he’s holding out hope that he’ll be able to coach the Giants – that’s what I believe. It’s not going to happen this year, but I think if they fall on their faces again next year that it’ll open the door for Cowher to become the next head coach of the New York Giants.

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on where he thinks Bill Cowher will wind up…

“He’s going to wind up in New York at some point. I think he’s holding out hope that he’ll be able to coach the Giants – that’s what I believe. It’s not going to happen this year, but I think if they fall on their faces again next year that it’ll open the door for Cowher to become the next head coach of the New York Giants.”

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TSR: Wow, that’s pretty interesting. He’s been linked to a couple of different teams – the Bills, the Panthers – but you think the Giants. That’s very interesting.

JB: I think that’s the job that he would really like to have and the ownership is very familiar with him, and he’s very familiar with the ownership. The Mara’s and Rooney’s are very close and I think that’s the place he would really like to go.

TSR: Interesting. Going back to your Super Bowl days, what was your finest moment besides winning of course? What’s the one thing from that year in the playoffs that really stands out?

JB: The one thing that really stands out is when we were in Denver. We won and I’ll never forget there was a sign that read: Going Home. It was one of those things that was like wow, I am really going home and it hit me all at once. I’ll never forget my feelings at that moment when I realized I was going home and going to the Super Bowl.

TSR: I was living in Detroit the year that you won the Super Bowl and I can remember how many Steeler fans were walking the city. I’ll never forget how the city embraced you because it was your hometown and you were getting the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl.

JB: Oh, it was amazing – it really was. You know what kind of exposure the Super Bowl gets, and to have that media attention focused on me was absolutely amazing.

TSR: I can only imagine. All right – I’ve got some fun questions. What was the hardest hit you’ve ever laid on a defender?

JB: On a defender? We played the Ravens one year and, I can’t remember the safety’s name, but I ran through a hole and broke his collarbone.

TSR: (Laughs) Really?

JB: Yeah, it was pretty powerful. I can remember it like it was yesterday, too. It was one of those moments when I was full stride and I knew there was no breaking. I just put my head down ready to embrace the hit and went right through him.

TSR: Oh man! And what was the hardest hit you’ve ever received from a defender?

JB: One year, Sam Adams was the defensive nose guard for the Baltimore Ravens and we called a screen pass. I caught the screen pass, jumped in the air and the next thing I remember was getting off the ground. He knocked me silly.

TSR: (Laughs) Who is the greatest defender you’ve ever faced?

JB: Lawrence Taylor.

TSR: Lawrence Taylor? Yeah, I’ve heard he was pretty good. What about Ray Lewis? How do the two compare?

JB: I didn’t get a chance to face Lawrence Taylor in his prime, but in his prime, I don’t think there’s any question who the greatest defensive player was of all time. I don’t think there’s anyone even close, but Ray Lewis is a great player in and of itself. But Lawrence Taylor changed how the game was played and how you guard against defensive players. He was the first guy that you had to know where he was at all times and it was a much different NFL before Lawrence Taylor.

TSR: What running back impresses you the most nowadays?

JB: I’ve been very impressed with what Ray Rice can do. Of course there’s Adrian Peterson and those guys, but Ray Rice has been very impressive over the past half of the season.

TSR: Well, I really appreciate your sitting down with us Jerome, and I encourage everyone to head to Facebook.com/DiGiorno to take part in the sweepstakes. Is there anything else you wanted to say to readers about the contest?

JB: I just want to add: “You Bettis Believe” it’s no delivery, it’s DiGiorno.

TSR: (Laughs) Sounds great! Thanks again, Jerome.

JB: Thank you! Take care.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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