Former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis was named the winner of the Walter Camp Football Foundation's 2014 'Man of the Year' award.
The award, which honors a former college football player, is presented to someone who had a successful collegiate career and remains closely involved with the game. More importantly, though, the recipient must be a leader in their profession, have contributed to the community in public service, and have an impeccable reputation for integrity.
"It's amazing because you don't do any of those things for an award," said Bettis. Community service is what I feel is necessary. I was given help when I was a kid. I feel it's important to use my forum to give back and create change for others.
"Being a good person, if you understand right from wrong, you can navigate yourself through a tough environment. It's always been something I felt comfortable with. To receive this type of award is a tremendous honor and it means I am on the right track."
Some of the past recipients include former Steelers Mel Blount, Lynn Swann and another Notre Dame product, Rocky Bleier, as well as other greats including Gale Sayres, Dick Butkus and John Elway.
"It's incredible to hear the list of past award winners, because I know of their accomplishments," said Bettis. "I know what type of person Mel Blount is. To know the things he has accomplished on and off the field I am humbled to be in the same category as all of these great players and people."
Bettis, one of the nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015, rushed for 10,571 yards with the Steelers, and amassed 13,662 career yards overall, ranking sixth all-time in the NFL. He was the Steelers leading rusher from 1996-2001 and in 2003-04, and posted 50 100-yard games with the Steelers. He was voted to the Pro Bowl six times and capped his career by helping to lead the Steelers to their Super Bowl XL Championship.
He played three seasons at Notre Dame, finishing with 1,912 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns during the 1991 season.
Bettis started the Jerome Bettis Bus Stops Here Foundation during his playing days, and continues to give back through it in Pittsburgh and his hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
"Jerome Bettis' success on the football field pales in comparison to what he has done off the field to help children succeed. This devotion makes him a worthy recipient of the Man of the Year Award," said James Monico, the president of the Walter Camp Football Foundation.
Bettis will honored at the foundation's annual dinner on Saturday, January 17 in New Haven, Connecticut. Call (203) 288-CAMP (288-2267) for more information.