"I really think this is the last year for Coach Cowher in Pittsburgh," said Bettis. "And I say that because I got the opportunity to talk to him after the season was over, when everything else really settled down and he was a different coach, a different guy.
"He was very reflective, talked about his family, talked about spending more time. …After that he bought a house down in Raleigh (N.C.), his daughter enrolled in school there. All [of] that leads to coach not coming back after the season."
Cowher was asked about the remarks after Monday's practice.
"Jerome and I talked in March, about a month after the Super Bowl," Cowher said. "There was no confidential information given. I think we were both very reflective at the time. And as I stated with him – and we have not talked since then -- that he has to understand that as you get closer to training camp, time has a way of refocusing people.
"I think there's been a lot of speculation about my future. I'm here to say, once again, that it's purely that: speculation. I don't like talking about the contract because we're in camp. I love coaching football. I love coaching here. There's been a lot of speculation and I'm just going to leave it at that. I can't control the future; that takes two sides. So I do have two years left on my contract, contrary to what people may think, and so that's all I really wanted to talk about. Last year was a special year, and you do reflect, but as the time came off, as we got closer to training camp, we had about five weeks off and by the end of that fifth week I've been ready for training camp and I've been very focused on getting this football team back this year, and that's where my focus is. I don't like talking about anything other than that, anything personal, because really it's about our football team. Contract situations and those other things take care of themselves and I'll deflect all that to the management element of it. I'd rather keep it at that.
"I talked to Jerome about that. I was very disappointed in what he said and he understands my position. I wanted to make sure he understood it, because I think a lot of people thought him and I had been speaking. We haven't been speaking. It was one conversation we had and there was nothing confidential given to him at that time and so that's where that is."
Does Cowher realize Bettis is now part of the media?
"Yeah, I think he's over there, but Jerome's a good guy," Cowher said. "We've had too many good times to let that stand in the way. That will not come between us, trust me."
Is Cowher flattered that his status has become such an issue?
"I understand it. I really do," he said. "And I understand the questions that you have to ask, but like I said you guys know me; it's not going to affect my passion for the game. Time has always had a way of refocusing people and I think I'll just leave it at that."