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JEROME BETTIS
Peter King
November 29, 2004
Steelers Running Back
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November 29, 2004

Jerome Bettis

Steelers Running Back

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"?ON LOOKING AT THE ALLTIME RUSHING LIST AND SEEING HIS NAME AHEAD OF JIM BROWN'S I say, 'Yeah, right.' I mean, really. Let's be serious. I've studied running backs, and he's the god of running backs. Then I think, Not bad for a fat kid from Detroit who was supposed to be a fullback.

?ON THE SECRET TO HIS SUCCESS I'm a tailback in a fullback's body. For a long time, nobody wanted to recognize that. Early in my career it pissed me off to be thought of as just a hunk of blubber who can run through walls.

?ON THE SECRET TO LASTING 12 YEARS AS A 255-POUND BACK A lot of it is knowing how to fall. I know not to fall right on the ball when I go down hard, so I've never broken a rib. I know not to fall right on a shoulder, so I've never had a separated shoulder. I've been tackled 3,300 times. It's like when you see three guys coming at you, don't get nailed by all three. Try to have just one hit you. I've been able to elude the major, major injury.

?ON WHAT HURTS TODAY That's a long list. My neck's sore. My shoulders are tight. That tightness extends to the middle of my back. The right side under my ribs is tender. I've hyperextended both knees, so I'm icing them. My left Achilles is sore. For me, it's normal for this point in the season.

?ON WHAT DRIVES HIM Every week, I know there's a team on the other side of the ball, 11 guys, trying to stop me. I've always had the bull's-eye on my head, ever since I stepped into this league. If I don't have a good game, we lose. That's how I think. I live for that.

?ON WHY HE LOVES BOWLING You need mental toughness to be good at it. And you have to practice so hard and be consistent every time you practice to be good. The most pressure I ever felt in sports was at a bowling tournament in Muskegon, Mich., in 1995, standing there, ready to throw the last ball in a perfect game. Professional bowlers were there, watching me. A photographer was there, shooting pictures with a flash. I made the strike and got the perfect game. That's one of my proudest achievements.

?ON BEING COMMISSIONER FOR A DAY I'd try to get a team in the hands of minority ownership. Basketball's done it. Baseball's done it. In this age of sports one of 32 NFL teams needs to be owned by a minority. It's time. And it has to be a forced issue by the commissioner.

?ON WHAT ATHLETES HE'D PAY TO SEE A toss-up. I'd pay to see LeBron and Kobe square off. I'd pay to see Curt Schilling or the Big Unit pitch". --As told to Peter King

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