In a recent SI.com column, former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis took the gloves off regarding the team with which he won a Super Bowl before riding off into the sunset of his hometown of Detroit.
Specifically, he teed off on the team’s offensive line, which looked not so good in Thursday night’s regular-season opener.
“This problem isn’t anything new,” Bettis said, “and I blame the coaching staff for not
addressing the line in the offseason. How did they rationalize not
doing anything about it? Well, they won a Super Bowl. They won’t be so
lucky twice in a row. If Ben [Roethlisberger] continues to get hit the way he did
Thursday — the same way he did last year, then this will come back to
haunt the Steelers. Ben will get hurt. Ben will miss games. And they
don’t have a line to run behind without Ben. Pittsburgh can’t repeat
with the line playing like this.”
But in the September 10 issue of Steelers Digest, Bettis was far more measured in his remarks, even though the point of the article was for Bettis and Hall of Famer Rod Woodson to articule “three things I like about the 2009 Steelers” and “three things about the 2009 Steelers that concern me.”
Said Bettis regarding the same topic about which he sounded the alarm after one game: “The offensive line was serviceable last year and with another year should be better, but they still have to play well in order for the team to win. That’s the challenge. You worry about the number of sacks that Ben takes, becaue the more hits he takes, the less effective he is going to be. That’s the nature of the game. The goal is to get to the quarterback, and if an opponent gets to him with any kind of frequency it’s a problem for the quarterback.”
So why the remarkably different content and tone? Some might say Bettis dramatically altered his assessment based
on the opening game, but we’d hate to see what Bettis would have said about
the offensive line if the Steelers hadn’t, you know, won the game.
The more fundamental reality is that Steelers Digest has a far different audience than SI.com, and Bettis would have run a much greater risk of alienating the folks from whom he still makes a decent amount of money if he had demonstrated the same candor that was on display in his more recent item for SI.com.
Still, though it’s smart for Bettis to gauge his message to his audience, consistency of message is fairly important, too.