Bettis gets another TV shot: hired as analyst for ESPN

Here’s why I am happy for Jerome Bettis today:

Back in 2007, my family was given a behind-the-scenes tour at NBC. It occurred on a Sunday night so we met the entire cast of the network’s Football Night in America show. My wife was thrilled to chat with Keith Olbermann. My kids were infinitely more excited to meet Jerome Bettis.

They marveled over Bettis’ Super Bowl ring.

“Do you want to try it on?” Bettis said to my son, Sam.

Sam was dumbfounded and reached for the ring, which appeared to be the size of an inner tube. Sure enough, a very nervous Sam dropped Bettis’ ring on the floor. His Super Bowl ring.

He definitely has his father’s hands. The impact generated a noise that felt as if it could be heard through Rockefeller Center. At least to us.

Bettis, though, laughed and assured Sam it was OK. He posed for pictures and chatted with the kids for a while. And I’m sure when Sam is 79, he will tell his grandkids how he dropped a Hall of Famer’s Super Bowl ring.

So yes, I’m happy Bettis is getting another shot at TV. It didn’t go so well for him at NBC, where he lasted only two years. Hopefully, it will work out better for him at ESPN.

Here’s the official release:

Super Bowl champion and six-time Pro Bowl running back Jerome Bettis has joined ESPN as an NFL analyst. The 13-year NFL veteran will appear on NFL Live and SportsCenter and contribute to other ESPN platforms, beginning September 1.

The National Football League’s sixth all-time leading rusher, Bettis ran for 13,662 yards and 91 touchdowns in his career while catching 200 passes for 1,449 yards and three touchdowns. He spent his first three seasons with the Rams (1993-95) before playing 10 years with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1996-2005).

Affectionately nicknamed “The Bus,” Bettis capped his legendary career by helping the Steelers win Super Bowl XL in his hometown of Detroit. While hoisting the Lombardi Trophy on the podium after the game, he announced his retirement from professional football in February 2006.

Highly respected throughout the league, Bettis was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1996, and he was the recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2002. This year he was a finalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame honors.

Bettis has appeared as a guest on ESPN shows throughout the years, including the Super Bowl XLV edition of Sunday NFL Countdown in 2011 when the Steelers played the Packers. Bettis previously worked as an analyst for NBC Sports.

“Jerome is accomplished, knowledgeable and charismatic – and he’s a very familiar face to NFL fans; he will be a great addition to our team of NFL analysts,” said Seth Markman, ESPN senior coordinating producer for NFL studio programs.

Added Bettis: “I’m so excited to join ESPN and bring the same passion, knowledge, and leadership that helped me win a world championship when I was a player. I’m looking forward to working with my new team to bring the game closer to home for all the fans to enjoy.”


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