Jeff Hartings paused for a second, thinking about the question before just blurting out an answer.
What was it like to block for Jerome Bettis was the question I asked him.
Hartings thought about it for a few more seconds, then answered from the heart.
"It was a blessing," he said.
Take a look at former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis during one of his most memorable performances.
Hartings, who was Bettis' center for five years, said it was a pleasure not just to block for Bettis, but to watch what he would do once he broke a run, loving being a part of the magic he created on the field.
"The enjoyment of being able to block for him and being on the field watching what he did, it was amazing," said Hartings. "I remember watching him get through the hole and just run over a defensive back and get another 5-10-15 yards. He was so enjoyable to watch."
Hartings, who blocked for Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders when both played for the Lions, was always amazed by what Bettis could do, especially considering his size.
"First of all his foot quickness, the skills that he had, the lateral movement with his quickness, balance and power," said Hartings. "It was amazing the agility, foot quickness and lateral quickness he had despite him being a big running back."
This summer Hartings and Bettis will be reunited at the Steelers Men's Fantasy Camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe. Hartings will be conducting on-field drills at the camp, while Bettis is the guest speaker. But it will be later in the summer, when Bettis is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2015 that Hartings is particularly excited about.
"It's been a long time coming," said Hartings. "When he retired you knew he would be in the Hall of Fame, the question was would he be a first-ballot selection. I thought he would. I look at Jerome, the career he had, even thinking he wouldn't make the Hall of Fame was an insult. The fact that it took five years, I know he is grateful but I felt like he should have been a first ballot. This is so well deserved for him and his family and I couldn't be happier for Jerome."
Space is still open to join Bettis and Hartings at Steelers Men's Fantasy Camp, which runs from May 29-31 at St. Vincent College. For more information, click on Steelers Men's Fantasy Camp.