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Old 01-25-2006, 12:53 PM   #1
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Default Really Nice Article on Jerome Bettis

Written by a columnist from the Detroit Free Press


`The Bus' steered clear of problems as youth
Bettis returning home for Super Bowl to cap what could be his final season
By Mick McCabe
Detroit Free Press

DETROIT - He was one of Carol Tate's brightest trigonometry students at Detroit Mackenzie, but it took a few months before she realized he was known for more than his grades and asthma.
``I didn't know he played football,'' said Tate, who began teaching at Mackenzie in 1970. ``I used to ask him about his asthma and his allergies. It was first hour, and it used to bother him.''
Claude Jackson knew the hulking lad with a big smile was an All-Michigan football player, but he also was an excellent student in Jackson's government and economics classes.
``A lot of athletes would come in and go to the back,'' Jackson said. ``He would sit in the front row. He was a very good student who was a unique person. He communicated with everyone.''
More than 15 years after Bettis graduated, Mackenzie's most famous alumnus was creating a buzz Monday morning among teachers. Jerome Bettis had earned a trip home for Super Bowl XL as a running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It is less than eight miles from Mackenzie to Ford Field, where the Super Bowl will be played. But this is where the journey began, and as a senior in 1989, Bettis led Mackenzie to the west side title and into the Public School League and state playoffs.
Philander Asaka taught Bettis' older brother, Johnny, and coached him in tennis, where the youngster bragged about his younger brother.
``Once, he told me his brother was headed for the pros,'' Asaka said. ``Being from the public schools, we hear that a lot. But with Jerome it was true. From Day One he had social graces and critical-thinking skills.
``You see him on TV and they call him The Bus, but he's still Jerome to us.''
To Deborah Hanna, Bettis isn't The Bus (a nickname he received in college), he is her sergeant-at-arms -- for the National Honor Society.
``He ruled with an iron fist; he kept order,'' Hanna said. ``No, really he was a gentle giant. He was a delight. He was well-liked and well-respected in the National Honor Society.''
So much has happened to Bettis since he left Mackenzie, located on Wyoming at West Chicago. He had a brilliant career at Notre Dame, and his performance in the NFL likely will land him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day.
But in September of 1989, Bettis told the Detroit Free Press that one of his proudest days came on April 19 of that year. It was the day he was inducted into the school's National Honor Society.
Besides being a superb football player, Bettis was a serious student.
``He got all of his work done and did very well on his tests,'' said Tate, who also taught him in pre-calculus. ``He was serious about correcting his mistakes. I would circle the mistake, and he would come back up and ask what he did wrong.''
Anthony Daniels is a senior tight end at Mackenzie and has committed to play at Eastern Michigan. He met Bettis last summer at Bettis' football camp in Highland Park.
``Meeting him made me feel like the sky is the limit,'' Daniels said. ``Some people say bad things about Mackenzie, but he's one of our many bright spots. He's a good person on and off the field. He's a real good role model.''
Junior tailback/defensive back Stacey Mercer met Bettis at the same camp and took his advice to heart.
``He talked to us about how to run the football and run it hard,'' Mercer said. ``He told us how he ran through the league.
``But he also talked about keeping our grades up and taking good classes so we can get into a good college.''
Former Mackenzie coach Bob Dozier first saw Bettis midway through his freshman year after he transferred from Detroit Henry Ford. Mackenzie was his neighborhood school.
``I was at my desk one day, and I was doing something urgent,'' Dozier said. ``I heard someone say: `Sir, my name is Jerome Bettis, and I'd like to know if I can play for you.' I turned around and saw him. He was 5-11, 190 pounds, and I said: `Hell, yes, you can play for me.' ''
In his first season at Mackenzie, Bettis played defensive line and rarely carried the ball.
``Their sophomore year, I put the guys down as defensive linemen to make them tough,'' Dozier said. ``I did the same thing with Pepper Johnson and Kevin Brooks,'' who both played in the NFL.
As a junior, Bettis moved to linebacker and late in the season faced Ann Arbor Pioneer.
``At halftime, Pioneer coach Chuck Lori pulled me aside and said: `Dozier, you're going to go to jail up here,' '' Dozier recalled. ``He said: `If you don't get that Jerome Bettis out of there, he's going to kill somebody, and you're going to jail.' ''
Jail was a destination for some youngsters in Bettis' neighborhood. Some of them were his friends, who turned to drugs when he turned to athletics.
``I see a lot of drugs right around the corner, right down the street,'' Bettis said in 1989. ``You have to learn to say no to your friends. When we were younger, we'd run together and throw eggs and stuff like that. But when you get older the game is different.
``Guys say: `Let's go sell some crack.' Your morals start to set in now. A lot of them aren't into that. I mean, you can make $2,000 a day selling crack.... That's a lot of money, but in the long run I'm going to be better off than them. Crack starts corrupting you. By selling crack, you start losing your self-esteem. I think too highly of myself to sell crack.''
Pat Jenkins, Bettis' physics teacher, said his parents did an excellent job keeping him on the right path.
Bettis' path on the football field went mostly straight ahead. As a senior, he rushed 123 times for 1,325 yards and 14 touchdowns. On defense, he made 157 tackles and batted down nine passes. Dozier touted him as a bona-fide star, a description he typically reserved for the city's top athletes.
Some schools, like Ohio State, planned to play Bettis at linebacker if they could sign him.
Dozier knew better.
``I'd play that sucker on offense,'' he said then. ``His eyes light up when you call his number. He runs with a viciousness.''
He hasn't stopped. In the NFL, Bettis has rushed for 13,662 yards, fifth-most in league history. This is his 13th -- and possibly last -- professional season.
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Old 01-25-2006, 01:46 PM   #2
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Default Re: Really Nice Article on Jerome Bettis

good read
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Old 01-25-2006, 01:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: Really Nice Article on Jerome Bettis

All class! There is a reason why every player wants to win XL for him, and he did'nt even hold out his entire rookie season (Elway)! This one's for John....No my friend this one is for JEROME!!!
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Old 01-25-2006, 03:52 PM   #4
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Default Re: Really Nice Article on Jerome Bettis

Nice read, Go Steelers Go Bus!
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