Bus not done yet

Let me first say that I went on record last year saying Jerome Bettis should have retired at the end of that season.

The once-thundering running back had nothing left to prove and hadn't looked the same since suffering a major groin injury in 2001. And the 3.3 yards per carry he averaged last season screamed Bettis was washed up, finished at 32 years old.

I'm not afraid to admit when I was wrong, and I was wrong about Bettis.

There are those out there who have bashed Bettis for years, blaming him specifically for the team's loss in the AFC Championship game that season to the New England Patriots despite the fact Bettis didn't allow Troy Brown to run unfettered for a touchdown on a punt return.

But of course, if you say that a player is washed up long enough and loud enough, sooner or later, you're going to be right.

Now, however, comes news that Bettis is thinking of retiring following this season if his health is not good following this season. Don't believe it.

The No. 6 all-time leading rusher in NFL history said whether or not the Steelers win a Super Bowl will not determine his playing future. Well of course he's going to say that.

If Bettis says that he's going to retire if the Steelers win the Super Bowl, he's pretty much painted himself into a corner. But if he says it will depend on his health, it leaves his options open.

Bettis has gone on record several times this season saying he feels the best he's felt in years. That in itself should be a big enough hint about his future plans - provided he doesn't get hurt in the remainder of this season. He could return again next season at a slight increase over his salary from this season and serve a similar role to the one he's filled so well.

And if the Steelers do win the Super Bowl, he could then decide to go out on top without having said he made that decision in December.
  • The Pro Bowl votes are in, but won't be announced until next week. But here's my list of Steelers who should go to Honolulu:

    James Farrior, inside linebacker. Farrior was seen as a longshot earlier in the season, but he's no longer a darkhorse. Farrior will go.

    Troy Polamalu, strong safety. Ed Reed and Rodney Harrison will make it, but Polamalu should go as well. He's one of the top tacklers in the league's best defense and has five interceptions as well. And he's only getting better.

    Aaron Smith, defensive end. Smith is outstanding against the run and has a team-high eight sacks. He's been outstanding.

    Alan Faneca, guard. One of the keys to the Steelers' running game, Faneca is a given.

    Jeff Hartings, center. Hartings has been outstanding this season and deserves the trip. Kevin Mawae will get one spot, Hartings should get the other.

    That's my list. Certainly there are others who deserve consideration, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Hines Ward, outside linebacker Joey Porter, cornerback Deshea Townsend and special teamer James Harrison, but they likely won't make it.

    Though Roethlisberger has done well in the fan vote, his overall numbers aren't good enough to give him the nod over Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees. That's no knock on Roethlisberger. He'll be voted into this game many times during his career, just not this year.

    Ward was having another Pro Bowl season until the midway point of the season. But since the Steelers defeated New England, he's averaged just three catches per game. And unlike offensive linemen, wide receivers don't automatically go on reputation every year.

    Porter is a borderline Pro Bowler. He's had a good, but not great, season. His reputation with other players is going to hurt him.

    Townsend has four interceptions and four sacks, but will lose out to some bigger names who may not be having seasons as good as he is.

    And though everyone in Pittsburgh certainly knows who Harrison is, it's unlikely the rest of the league does. He's been outstanding and deserves to go, but Baltimore's Adalius Thomas was voted in last year and will likely go again on reputation this year.

    At the end of the day, the Pro Bowl doesn't really matter. It's who wins the bowl game played a week before that the players really care about.

Steel City Insider Top Stories