Bettis: 'I'm a Pittsburgher'

  • Former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 8 in Canton, Ohio as a member of the Class of 2015 and Steelers.com will be there for the entire journey.
  • Detroit is where he was born. South Bend where he went to college. Los Angeles where he first played in the NFL. And Georgia is where he lives now.

But for Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh will always be home.

"It's a big city, but in its values it's a small city," said Bettis. "It values relationships. It's a fast moving city, but the people move slow. There is value in hello and meaning in goodbye. That is Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is a special place."

Pittsburgh is a place that wrapped its arms around Bettis when he was traded from the St. Louis Rams to the Steelers on April 20, 1996 along with a third-round pick, for the Steelers second-round pick in 1996 and fourth-round selection in 1997.

It was a match made in heaven.

"To play for the Steelers was incredible," said Bettis. "It's not like any other franchise. I played for another franchise, so I do understand. Playing for the Steelers is different. The fan base, they understand football. They also have a love affair with their team, they are willing to sacrifice and do whatever for their team. That is special. They will travel, support, and go through the ups and downs with their team and players.

"I became a Pittsbugher. That is rare. Most teams you come and are a player and you go. When you come to Pittsburgh, you are a part of that Pittsburgh community. They embraced me early on, before all of the success came. It was a love affair. I can honestly tell you it's not like any other city in America that has a football team."

When Bettis made a visit to Canton, Ohio for a Hall of Fame induction briefing, Steelers fans were there – without even knowing Bettis was going to be in the house. And the reaction to seeing him, was exactly what you would expect.

"It was amazing, but it doesn't surprise me," said Bettis. "Steelers' fans love the game of football. That is what was so impressive. They were coming there not just to see the Steelers players, but to see the game itself and learn about all of the great players who played the game. That was impressive to see."

Bettis takes great pride in being the next Steelers player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, not just representing the Steelers and his family, but his bigger family…Steelers Nation.

"It means so much to me to be able to join the greatest players to ever play for the Pittsburgh Steelers," said Bettis. "To be included in that group is special. When I got to Pittsburgh the one thing we saw was all of the Lombardi Trophies in the facility. We knew we were being held to a higher standard because there was championship pedigree, they had done it before. We had to live up to those standards. It was a tough thing to do but I relished the opportunity.

"To now be amongst the greatest players to ever play for the Pittsburgh Steelers is a tremendous honor and I am so grateful. Having played for the Steelers for 10 years you get a true appreciation for what the guys before me were able to accomplish. To be immortalized with them is a special feeling. To have their respect and the respect and love of Pittsburgh it's special because I'm a Pittsburgher."

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