|Pint-Sized Beers With A Super-Sized Human Being...|
|Written by Cotter|
|September 09, 2010 00:00|
[Very special thanks to fellow Steelers blogger and amateur photography aficionado, Ryan Wilson of Steelers Lounge, Fanhouse and probably eight other places, for this pic!]
Wow. Where to even begin...
So, I feel like every time I have been fortunate enough to have met/interacted with a current or former Steeler, I start out the post I eventually write about it in the same way (beginning all the way back in '08 with The Bus's one-time supposed replacement, Amos Zereoue). But in the almost four years I have been writing OFTOT, never did I ever think it'd get me anywhere, really; let alone in the same room, sitting across a small table from, sipping Guinness with, FRIGGIN' JEROME BETTIS, DUDE! I can't even begin to describe to you how awesome it was to see all 250+ pounds of The Bus in the flesh, sitting just feet from me. And shaking the hand that wore a Super Bowl XL ring easily surpasses just about everything else as the coolest thing I've done in the last 28 years of my life.
Here's a picture of that beast, by the way...
There are few Steelers more endeared to someone of my generation. The Bus was definitely one of the most exciting players (if not THE most exciting) to grace the surfaces of Three Rivers Stadium and Heinz Field between 1996 and 2005. I'd throw a bunch of impressive stats at you to reinforce that point, but let's be honest, this is a Steelers blog...half of you can probably rattle them off unprompted, so you certainly don't need me to do it. The guy will almost undoubtedly be a first ballot hall of famer when it comes to a vote in 2011, and either way, his tenure in Pittsburgh and certainly his involvement in finally winning one for the thumb will never be forgotten among Steeler fans.
At the very least, I'd be willing to bet at least a handful of you have this image framed and posted up on some wall in your house...
Anyway, let me start from the beginning - How in the world did this come about?
Well, Guinness is holding a national contest between now and October 31 to find people like you and me who are "bold enough" to take on The Bus in a Guinness pint-pouring contest to take place the week of the Super Bowl. And in order to get the word out, they were kind enough to let some lowly basement-dwelling keyboard monkeys like me sit in a room with the future hall-of-famer and take down free pints for a while.
So, what did we talk about the whole time?
[I had to represent with the XL shirt!]
Not having recorded any part of the conversation whatsoever, all I can give you is what little my feeble mind can remember. I'll do my best to summarize his comments over the next handful of paragraphs, but if I forget anything, I'm sure Tecmo will be able to shed a little light.
The one thing I will say about Bettis in general is that he's a fantastic personality. He's a real story teller, and he didn't pussy foot around things. He gave it to us straight, but with a class and insight that commanded respect. It's pretty obvious that he's just as awesome of a person as he was a running back for 10 years in Da Burgh. And if not, he's sure got me snowed.
I'll start with what I thought was the funniest thing he said, which came up when someone (I think Ryan) asked him who he wanted to introduce him in Canton (to which he humbly replied that he had to get the nod first). Ryan Wilson suggested Joey Porter, which immediately had me rolling, but coincidentally Bus told us that not more than an hour before the event, Peezy actually called him, challenged him to a round of golf, and in true Peezy style, proceeded to talk shit. The best part, which unfortunately I can't even begin to describe for you, was his Peezy impression. It was pretty much one of the most classic renditions of Peezy I've heard. But I'm getting off track now...
Moving on, some of you may have seen or heard Bettis's comments about the Steelers current QB situation. If not, his stance was - start Chuck Batch, and if he struggles, then bring in Dixon. But he actually floated an interesting philosophical point that made good sense - he said that the problem could be - if you start Dixon and he struggles, and you replace him, do you put him out there to start the 2nd game after getting yanked? If he struggles again, what then? Might you ruin his confidence? At least if you start Batch, you could put Dixon in with somewhat less pressure. Of course, you all may not agree, but I'm just telling you what Bus said. So, feel free to comment on that, but I'm just the messenger.
We also got into how important the defense will be this season, but I'm pretty sure I don't need to recap that conversation for you all.
You were there in 2009.
[Sorry, my iPhone camera blows in low light]
Which actually segues nicely into - at one point, someone asked if the Pittsburgh faithful give Bus any guff for his comments on the Steelers as a studio analyst, which as fans, I'm pretty sure we can all answer without even hearing from the Bus. But, he told us about one of the last times he was in Pittsburgh, he said he was just crossing the street and a cab stopped short, the cabbie got out and yelled at him for something he had said about the Steelers. He did say, though, he gets paid to be unbiased, but he analyzes things differently when it comes to the Steelers. Oh, and (in reference to another question) he also said he thought the Browns were going to have a "good" year, but I'm not even going to touch THAT.
Probably one of the more interesting football stories (at least to us Steeler fans) he told was about that time in 2003 when Cowher anointed Amos Zereoue the starter over him. As you'll remember, the year prior, Bus had been hurt and Cowher felt that before the season even started, he should name Zereoue as the guy. Well, Bus said that after that all went down, he told Famous Amos (who apparently was somewhat lackadaisical and not taking the job very seriously) that he better practice and play his best every day, because every day they were out there, The Bus was going to try and reclaim his job. And of course, we all know how that worked out.
Then - or honestly it could have (and probably did) come way before that, I don't even remember the order of things - Tec asked about Mendenhall. He pointed out the little fumbling problem Rashard's had and asked Bus how he'd teach/mentor a young guy like that to hold the ball in tight. Bus said he'd explain to him how holding the football away from his body - especially for someone fond of the spin move - puts the ball at a susceptible angle. He said the key would be to explain to him WHY he's putting the ball in a bad position as opposed to just telling him to hold the ball closer, which I think obviously makes sense. Then, he also added that he thinks Mendenhall is a beast...there was a lot of head nodding and "oh yeahs" involved...
We didn't really have much time to cover a whole lot beyond that, but one other thing The Bus weighed in on was football coming back to LA. Bus said it would have to be an expansion team since a lot of LA residents are transplants with entrenched allegiances. He pointed out that if you're a fan of a certain team, you're just going to be a fan of that team no matter what, and people who have already established a favorite wouldn't have much incentive to change to a "hometown" LA team unless it was brand new and had no ties to existing rivalries, players, etc.
Oh, and then he also talked about being on The Office that one time, but really, that's just whatev.
Now, here's the REAL important stuff - if YOU want to meet The Bus like I got to, all you have to do is this...go to Guinness.com and in 100 words or less, recount a time when you "boldly stepped up to face an athletic challenge and perservered." They're looking for originality and creativity, but that doesn't mean you can just make shit up - and adherence to the theme is also a key part of the decision. If your entry is chosen, you and three guests will get a free trip to Dallas so you can prove your manhood against The Bus in that pint-pouring contest I mentioned a short while back.
And if you think Bus is taking this thing lightly, think again. He assured us all that whoever is chosen is going to have his/her work cut out for him/her, just like Amos Zereoue did the minute Cowher declared him the starter in August of '03. I needn't remind you what kind of competitor The Bus is, but just in case you forgot, here's a refresher...
So, in any case, Guinness has my business for life now (of course they would've anyway, but no one tell them that), and I can pretty much drop dead tomorrow with a smile on my face. All joking aside, this was one of the top 10 moments of my relatively short life, and I was humbled to have been able to be a part of it.
Hopefully, if you flex your creative muscles, maybe you can shake the Bus's bear claw too...only in Dallas...for the Super Bowl...why are you not already clicking the link to Guinness.com?!?!?! Get on it, yinz jags!
And come back later on for the Falcons team preview...it's about that time again.
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