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Jerome Bettis

The Bus likes Twitter, dislikes critiquing Roethlisberger, and still loves USA Today

Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis hasn’t taken a snap in over 10 years, but fans of the bruising back — adequately nicknamed “The Bus” — still see him on television pretty much every day, talking about football. There’s not much he doesn’t know: The six-time Pro Bowler spent three seasons at the University of Notre Dame before he was selected by the Los Angeles Rams with the 10th overall pick in the 1993 NFL draft. After three seasons with the Rams (two in Los Angeles and one in St. Louis), Bettis was dealt to the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he played the final 10 seasons of his career. The 44-year-old is sixth on the all-time career rushing list, and he won his first and only Super Bowl with the Steelers in 2006 in his hometown of Detroit.

Bettis founded the Michigan-based The Jerome Bettis “Bus Stops Here” Foundation in 1997 to help improve “the overall quality of life for troubled and underprivileged inner-city youth.” The foundation is focused on honing tech skills, a sports camp centered on kids with asthma and ACT/SAT prep. More recently, he’s been working on leadership projects with the National Black MBA Association, and he checked in from New Orleans to talk about leadership, Ray Lewis, electrical engineering — and his pick for Super Bowl LI.

Who was your fiercest individual rival on the field?

Has to be Ray Lewis.

Who got the better end? Well, I would like to think I did, but it depends on how you’re keeping score.

If you had decided in ’96 to give up football for good and continue your studies at Notre Dame, what would you be doing right now?

My goal was one day to be in the electrical engineering space. If I would’ve had the time, I would have gone into engineering. But unfortunately, engineering and sports on a collegiate level just don’t mix.

Is there a specific reason for electrical engineering?

Yeah, that was my father’s forte. So it’s kind of following in his footsteps.

“I would have gone into engineering. But … engineering and sports on a collegiate level just don’t mix.”

Which social site do you like the most?

Twitter. Because you get a chance to voice your opinions on whatever you want. It’s short, concise. It can be as little as you want or as much as you want. And you have that platform.

What was your first major purchase once you got into the NFL?

First thing I bought was mom and dad a house.

What’s the phone app you love the most?

Delta. I use that more than anything. I am in the airport almost every day.

Your favorite team that disappoints you the most?

Detroit Tigers.

Even this season, huh?

Ahh, they crushed me. F—ing. Ahh, they killed me.

Where do you get your nonsports news from?

I’m still old-fashioned, I read the newspaper. I read USA Today most days.

Do you have a favorite writer?

Jarrett Bell.

“I use [Delta’s phone app] more than anything.”

Why did you choose to partner with the National Black MBA Association?

I’ve been working with them for almost a year now … they asked me to come to [their conference] and talk … about the principles of quality leadership.

How does your experience as a professional athlete apply in the business realm? Leadership is a quality you have — doesn’t matter if it’s business, if it’s sports, if it’s any other walk of life, if there are some leadership qualities, they’re going to be universal. You also have to be creative in how you lead. You can’t lead everyone the same way. Some people need more cerebral conversations, some people need that fire and brimstone. People need different things.

What has that transition from football player to analyst been like for you?

It’s been great. The hard part for me was to have to criticize former teammates. The only guy that’s still there when I played is Ben Roethlisberger. So [he’s] still a little difficult to have to criticize, but I’ve done it. That was the hardest part of the transition.

“The Bus” or “The Battering Ram”?

The Bus. The Battering Ram was with the Rams, and The Bus was actually started at Notre Dame but then traveled to Pittsburgh.

St. Louis Rams or Los Angeles Rams?

Los Angeles Rams. I played two years in L.A., one year in St. Louis. And St. Louis traded me, so L.A. Rams.

Who’s your Super Bowl pick?

Green Bay and Pittsburgh. A rematch, and I have Pittsburgh winning.

Martenzie is a senior researcher for The Undefeated. His favorite cinematic moment is when Django said "Y'all want to see somethin?"