Jerome Bettis ‘Shocked’ to Hear of Steelers QB’s Battle with Addictions


Gregory Shamus/Getty Images Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger talks with former Steelers RB Jerome Bettis during a game at Heinz Field in January 2009.

Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Jerome ‘The Bus’ Bettis played two seasons with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. In fact, Roethlisberger led the Steelers to victory in Super Bowl XL in Detroit, which was the Bus’ last stop in the NFL.

But during a recent appearance with Tiki & Tierney on CBS Sports Radio, Bettis said he was surprised to hear the longtime Steelers QB reveal that he has battled addictions to alcohol and pornography.

“I was shocked,” Bettis said. “I didn’t know anything about it. I never really saw it. From an alcohol perspective, I never saw him get pissy or drunk or anything like that. It was a surprise to me, but he’s human. That just shows that he’s human like all the rest of us. We’re all flawed in our own way. He has been man enough to show that.”

Bettis on Roethlisberger’s Recovery from Elbow Surgery

As to whether Bettis believes Roethlisberger, 38, can recover from the elbow surgery that forced him to miss 14 games last season, Bettis said:

“It is a tough injury, but if he can come back and be 75 percent of the player he was – you need a veteran guy who can manage the game. If he can throw it 20 to 30 yards, you don’t need the deep balls all the time. They’re going to be able to run the football. You still got a really good offensive line…. If you just get 75 percent of what Ben was, I think you’re going to have a highly functional offense with threats all over the football field.”

In turn, Bettis thinks that will have a transformative effect on Pittsburgh’s receiving corps, in particular fourth-year wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

“People say, ‘Well, he didn’t really step up,’” Bettis said, referring to Smith-Schuster. “How can you if you don’t have a quarterback throwing you the football? How can he take the next step when you don’t get balls consistently? That’s the hard part. It looks as though he took a step back, but in actuality, he really didn’t have the opportunities that he will have with Ben at the helm. This offense is going to be a whole lot better than it was last year.”

Bettis Believes the Steelers will be ‘Dominant’ in 2020

As for the Steelers’ prospects in 2020, Bettis said: “I see this team as really a dominant football team. They have that ability. The silver lining of last year was the defense. It came on strong. They had a playoff-caliber defense. They had zero offense. When your quarterback struggles, you’ve got no chance, but the defense kept them in every game that they played.”

It’s hard to argue with that, as backup QBs Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges combined for 18 touchdowns and 17 interceptions last season, and the Steelers ranked 31st in the NFL in passing offense.

At the moment, all signs point to Roethlisberger making a triumphant return to the field in 2020. In fact, he’s the favorite to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

But if he struggles with injury again, it’s worth noting that the Steelers haven’t added anyone new at quarterback since the end of last season, which is why Pittsburgh’s backup QB situation is considered to be one of the ‘biggest roster holes’ in the NFL.

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