Notebook: friends, foes, enemies, homecomings

DETROIT – Larry Foote was one of several Pittsburgh Steelers to wear the green Jerome Bettis throwback jersey upon arriving here Monday. On Tuesday, he was trying to keep it a secret.

"I had that Notre Dame jersey on," Foote said. "I hope nobody got me on camera. It felt a little funny."

Foote, of course, is making a homecoming of his own. Yes, Jerome Bettis is home in the Motor City, but so is Foote. The Detroit West Side Cubs are proud. So is Pershing High School. It held a pep rally for Foote yesterday following his Media Day obligations.

There was something of a pep rally for him with the media as well. Reporters from the Detroit area flocked around Foote, who was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year at the University of Michigan in 2001.

How's the family? How's the son? When did you know he was yours? A blood test? What's your mom cooking tonight? How are the boyz back in the 'hood?

On and on it went for Foote, who hopes to come back to teach and coach in the Detroit Public School League after he retires from pro football.

"My hometown's showing me a lot of love," Foote said. "I'm going to my high school today for a pep rally. My father did three interviews so he thinks he's a big man. Everybody's calling me for tickets, but I lost my phone."

He laughed at that last comment. He was laughing quite a bit Tuesday. He called his time at Michigan "the best time of my life, but it went by too fast."

Foote ran down the list of former teammates with whom he's friendly. He also mentioned Steve Hutchinson, the left guard for the Seattle Seahawks.

"We didn't really have a relationship," Foote said. "He was a big, mean, tough guy. I played with him two years. He was a leader of our team when I was there and he set the tone for our team. He don't take that much mess. That's what I remember."

Will the Pro Bowl guard come after Foote?

"He should," said Foote, who weighs 75 pounds less than his primary Super Bowl adversary. "He should come after me, but I'll be coming after him, too."

ANOTHER HOMECOMING

Rookie wide receiver Nate Washington went to school at nearby Tiffin (Ohio) and was scouted closely by the Detroit Lions. However, after the draft last April he signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"I was this close to spending this whole season here," he said from the Ford Field turf. "I would've been at home before the playoffs, so of course I wouldn't trade Pittsburgh for the world."

Washington's first pro catch converted a third-and-seven in the AFC Championship game. Later in the same series, he broke up an interception in the end zone.

"If I don't break up that pass, that game could've turned around a different way," he said.

JEROME IN DUBIOUS COMPANY

Jerome Bettis was given the key to the city by Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick yesterday. Bettis was told the honor had once been bestowed upon Saddam Hussein in 1980.

"I don't know if I'll be sharing that with Saddam," Bettis said. "I think they cancelled his key. They changed the locks on that one."

Bettis was asked about his feelings on being the center of attention this week.

"I relish every moment of it," he said. "Even answering every question and taking every picture is a blessing. There are no distractions for me. All of this is positive."

HARTINGS OK WITH PRACTICE

Jeff Hartings played for the Detroit Lions for five years, all of them spent in the team's old facility. The Silverdome is still standing in suburban Pontiac, where the Steelers are staying. Hartings and his teammates will practice there this week.

"When you hear you're practicing in the Silverdome, compared to the new million-dollar Lions facility (downtown), I at first thought we were getting the short end of the stick. After thinking about it more, I knew that we would be out of the city and our families would easily be able to find things to enjoy. We are practicing on the same turf they are and it's the same turf that we are playing on Sunday. It really shouldn't affect us."

QUOTABLE

Ben Roethlisberger on dedicating the season to his grandfather:

"My grandfather passed this summer and it's something that is motivating me. Jerome obviously is also a motivator. Another thing is we still have troops serving overseas. I think people forget that there is a bigger picture than this football game. … This game is dedicated to a lot of those guys who are over there waving their terrible towels."

Antwaan Randle El on whether his parents are trying to talk him into signing with the hometown Chicago Bears after the season:

"No, they aren't. Mom and Dad are the same way I am because they taught me. They told me that it's something that you have to pray about because you don't know what place is for you."

Seattle tackle Walter Jones on blocking Joey Porter:

"I'll probably go against him 30 times. It all depends on how we decide to block him on each play. I look forward to that challenge. He tries to avoid you and swim on you. I just have to stay focused and patient."


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