Review: The Bus: My Life In and Out of a Helmet by Jerome Bettis
Holiday time is a good time to catch up on reading. There is not much on TV, and the news is the same whether in print or provided by talking heads, so I decided to take a trip into the recent past with the Steelers great running back, Jerome Bettis. There is no doubt that “The Bus’s” stop in Pittsburgh brought joy to the millions who cheer the Steelers and that he was a force that other teams had to reckon with.
The first part of his biography, “The Bus: My Life In and Out of a Helmet,” written in captivating style (with Gene Wojciechowsi’s help) is drawn from 25 hours of taped interviews with Jerome and is inspirational. By his own admission, this future NFL great was a street hood in Detroit who sold dope and was mixed up in turf battles of a different kind. A football camp run by a former NFL star, and a high school football coach who somehow saw the kernel of promise in a young angry black teen, eventually led to a career that spanned more time than the average power back.
Like one of his Steelers predecessors, John Henry Johnson, Bettis came to the Steelers after a relatively mediocre career. Unlike two other Steelers backs, Whizzer White and Bill Dudley, Bettis never became the NFL yardage champion, but he did emulate them in his ability to elude tacklers as he, like yet another Steelers back, Fran Rogal, powered his way up the middle for what was sometime incredible yardage.
Bettis showed great business savvy in taking pay cuts to remain with the Steelers. Had he stuck to provisions of a long-term contract like another predecessor, Franco Harris, he probably would have wound up a relatively obscure second stringer on a team that had no ability to block for a running back, and no chance for a Super Bowl.
What are the weakest parts of the book are his derision of the front office for some of their business choices, on coaches for using players like Kordell Stewart and Antwan Randel-el inappropriately and his lame excuse for fumbling the ball on the Indianapolis goal line - “Alan Faneca went off script.”
For one man’s view of the Steelers’ most recent past, I commend the book to you. We’ll just have to wait for Coach Cowher’s take on some of the same situations.
Murray Tucker. Author: Screamer: The Forgotten Voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers