February 15, 2006

Bettis unsure about next stop for The Bus

By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Super Bowl champion Jerome Bettis is
not sure about the next career stop for 'The Bus' but believes
his former NFL brethren could be in for a wild ride given the
football league's labor uncertainty.

Bettis, who announced his retirement on the victory podium
this month after winning the Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh
Steelers, said on Wednesday he is eyeing a possible career as a
TV football reporter but leaving all his options open.

"I really don't have it figured out yet," Bettis told
Reuters in an interview on Wednesday. "I want to do some
television work but it depends on what opportunities are there,
football related. Right now everything is an option."

Bettis, nicknamed 'The Bus' for his powerful running style
and broad-shouldered, beefy physique, said his former football
colleagues also faced uncertainty if the collective bargaining
agreement that runs through 2007 is not extended soon.

"It's dangerous, very dangerous," he said of a potentially
chaotic scenario that could see the NFL salary cap disappear
for the 2007 season and create an open market for players.

"If you don't have a salary cap that obviously gives
leverage to a player, but also it will screw up a team because
they can't project long term their fiscal status."


The players union has threatened a March deadline on talks
to extend the agreement and NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue
told a Super Bowl news conference he was not optimistic about
the pace of negotiations.

"It could be a great day for some of the players, but I
think it would be a great day for the short term because I
don't think organizations can make any long term investments on
a player with the uncertainty of the cap," Bettis said.

"In the short term it's beneficial to the player, but long
term for the player I think it ultimately could hurt."

Bettis will watch that battle from the sidelines.

The 33-year-old running back hoisted the championship
trophy and retired after 13 years in the league and 13,705
yards gained that made him the NFL's fifth all-time leading

The former Notre Dame star has already taken a step toward
a possible TV future with a new TV commercial promoting
awareness of asthma, a condition that afflicts him.

"So many kids have asthma and think they can't do it," said
Bettis, who hopes the ad inspires young athletes with asthma.

Bettis said a severe asthma attack during a 1997 Steelers
game taught him to take the condition seriously and find the
right mix of medication to treat it.

"That was scary. For the first time I realized that asthma
was life threatening. I had thought it was a little baggage I
had to deal with but nothing significant," Bettis said.

"It's something I fight daily, but I like to think I'm
winning the battle."

As for the Steelers, Bettis thinks his old team is in good
shape to defend the NFL crown they won 21-10 over the Seattle
Seahawks in his hometown of Detroit.

"They will be very, very, very good," he said. "They're the
champs and to be the champs you got to beat the champs."