Bettis offered Ward retirement advice, having been there himself
By J. Brady McCollough / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Jerome Bettis knew what Hines Ward was going through Tuesday as he announced his retirement after 14 years with the Steelers.
Bettis, who watched from the back of the room at Ward's emotional news conference, retired immediately after winning the Super Bowl in 2006. During the last few weeks, after Ward's release from the Steelers Feb. 29, Bettis has advised his friend to consider just how much he's identified as a Steeler before attempting to sign with another franchise.
"He just asked me about retirement and about other teams," Bettis said, "and I just told him that his true value is always having a Steeler helmet attached to him. When you leave, you don't quite have that. You lose some of that mystique. For a guy who's played his entire career in Pittsburgh, I just thought it would be a shame if he put another helmet on for someone else for a year or two. He understood where I was coming from, but ultimately he had to make a decision for himself."
Ward followed Bettis' advice, and Bettis says there's "nothing better" than retiring a Steeler.
"He'll come to appreciate it more and more," Bettis said, "that he made the right decision in retiring a lifetime Steeler."
Bettis was asked what he will remember most about playing with Ward.
"My memory of Hines is him getting crushed and then coming to the huddle and he's smiling," Bettis said. "He just always had a smile on his face. When you think of Hines Ward, you think about the smiles. That's his legacy."
First Published 2012-03-20 20:22:31