Jerome Bettis looked at the box of cereal with his likeness on the front, and then glanced down at the lower left corner of it and couldn't hide his smile. What he saw, what made him smile, is a logo that makes him so proud, the Pro Football Hall of Fame logo.
"It warms my heart every time I see it," said Bettis. "This is something that was never a dream as a kid. You don't dream of going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You dream of winning a championship. So when I see it, the realization is now I am in the Pro Football Hall of Fame."
The cereal box Bettis was referring to is his limited edition "Bettis HOF Crunch," officially introduced on Monday at Bettis Grille 36. The box has a photo of Bettis during his Steelers playing days, and also includes the Hall of Fame logo to honor his enshrinement this August. Bettis HOF Crunch is available at participating Giant Eagle stores, and a limited number on www.thebus36.com, with only 36,000 available overall. Proceeds benefit his Bus Stops Here Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the overall quality of life for troubled and underprivileged inner-city youth.
"It's an opportunity for my foundation to benefit," said Bettis. "We have been very active in the community here which I have been a part of for well over a decade. I am excited about it. It's pretty unique."
Bettis has a busy few weeks ahead of him as he is headed into the final preparation for his Hall of Fame enshrinement, including working on his speech. He said it's impossible to thank everyone individually who has meant so much to him, but the toughest part has been putting together the right words to talk about his late father, John Bettis Jr.
"He came to all of my games, got the chance to see me win a championship, the only thing he didn't get a chance to see was me going into the Hall of Fame," said Bettis. "For him not being able to see it will be the hardest part of the speech to get through."
Something that might be a little easier to talk about will be Bettis' love for Steelers fans, the people who embraced him from the minute the St. Louis Rams traded him to the Steelers.
"When I think about being with the Steelers, I think about the fans," said Bettis. "I think about the crowd, the Terrible Towels waving, those are the special moments. We have the best fans in the world. It's amazing to see the loyalty of the fans.
"I ran into a guy at the airport and he said, you guys always talk about Steelers fans travel well. He said no, no, you have it wrong. Steelers' fans are everywhere. That is the truth. Steelers' fans are everywhere you go. They love the team, organization and the players."