A Look Back: The Bus Arrives In The Steel City

Bettis

This summer, a revised edition with new chapters and updated stats, dedicated to the Black and Gold book will be coming out in stores entitled “100 Things Every Steelers Fan Should Know Before They Die.”

The book, which is being published by Triumph Books, will be available in all major book stores and will retail for $14.95. It is currently available for pre-order through Amazon and Borders, and is set to arrive in stores early September.

Through the reminder of the summer, we’ll give Steelers Gab readers a sneak peek of some chapters of the book. Today we highlight chapter 57 – “The Bus Arrives in the Steel City” – and if you are a Steelers fan – you already know who it is about.

The Steelers knew after the 1995 season that the run game was in flux. The team had already said good-bye to Barry Foster the season before, and while they had some decent backs in Byron “Bam” Morris and Erric Pegram, there was that desire on the part of Bill Cowher and the front office to go out and get a back who would pound away and be able to wear down defenses.

The club’s leading rusher in ’95 was Pegram, who came to the team in the off-season from the Falcons. He was a shifty back and showed heart and ran hard, putting up 813 yards and five touchdowns, with an average of 3.8 yards per carry.

Morris was the bruiser, a guy who would come in for those tough one-yard runs with the game on the line—like in that season’s AFC Championship Game when the team needed that final yard to go up for good against the Colts 20–16.
Morris ran for 559 yards on 148 carries, nine touchdowns, and an average of 3.8 yards per carry. Overall, though, Morris was a disappointment.

He was expected to be the team’s lead back that season, but with the 3–4 start, he was replaced by the smaller Pegram. Morris did come back and play better near the end of the year, but the team didn’t feel comfortable with him as the franchise back. Things became even worse when in March 1996 he was arrested for marijuana possession. The Steelers knew it was time to act.

The club seemed to have interest in a running back in Los Angeles by the name of Jerome Bettis. He had fallen out of favor with head coach Rich Brooks, and after going for 1,429 yards his rookie season, had dropped to 637 yards and three touchdowns in 1995. Brooks had also said some not-so-flattering things about Bettis, calling him lazy.

Bettis was in a system not meant for him. The Rams wanted to throw more, and Bettis simply wasn’t in their plans. Plus, they wanted to draft troubled running back Lawrence Phillips, which would mean they really wouldn’t need Bettis any longer.

Don’t forget, order the book through Amazon and Borders.

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About the author: Matt Loede

 

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and of course, the National Football League. On NFL Sunday’s you can hear Matt on National networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and other stations around the country. Matt also joined The Washington Post in 2009 as a guest columnist on league hot topics. Born and raised in Cleveland, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

 

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One Comment

  • Dave B.

    Bettis was hands down one of the best big backs in the history of the game .In his prime , he was every bit as dominant as Earl Campbell was in the seventies . One of the best free agent signings in NFL history . Wonder how the Rams feel letting Bettis go and then seeing what he became ? Somebody needs a wash cloth , cause they got alot of egg on their face .

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