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Bettis knows his audience

In a recent 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, 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

Still, though it’s smart for Bettis to gauge his message to his audience, consistency of message is fairly important, too.

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31 Responses to “Bettis knows his audience”
  1. returner8685 says: Sep 15, 2009 9:17 PM

    Florio, you’re getting Steelers Digest sent to your house now, eh? I doubt you’re receiving copies of “Vikings Monthly” or “Patriots Periodical” as well. You’ve done pretty much everything you can to reveal your love for the Steelers without actually admitting it yet.

  2. Abe Froeman says: Sep 15, 2009 9:24 PM

    ehhhhh, what up doc

  3. lebowski says: Sep 15, 2009 9:26 PM

    Jeez, nitpicky much?!? Favre needs to do something soon to give you a good story.

  4. American says: Sep 15, 2009 9:32 PM

    This does not seem like a story worth posting….and I am not a fan of the Steelers. Who cares?
    Plus, in both cases, I’m sure there was a staff writer fluffing things up to fit *gasp* their audience.
    Really, who cares? Waste of time. Real football has begun, talk about that.

  5. mborz says: Sep 15, 2009 9:33 PM

    I don’t know Florio, the Steelers fans here at PFT are pretty die hard, and when you brought this up earlier, there were almost no people offended by what Bettis said. The vast majority of them agreed with his assessment.
    Bettis has taken his gloves off before, including his book, which was targeted squarely at Pittsburgh fans. If he’s going to be so completely candid in a book, I don’t know if he’d really approach an article differently (which will typically have a much shorter lifespan).

  6. CD_Ridge says: Sep 15, 2009 9:33 PM

    As a Steelers fan, I really don’t care if the Bus tones his message down for one publication and not for another. He happens to be right. The Bus criticizing the current O-line will not tarnish my view of him one bit.

  7. TripNasty says: Sep 15, 2009 9:34 PM

    That didn’t really seem like a “remarkably different content and tone” to me. He sounded concerned about the o-line in his article for the Steelers Digest and now sounds more concerned due to the fact that the Steelers didn’t patch up this concern during the off-season.

  8. leatherneck says: Sep 15, 2009 9:36 PM

    Perhaps Jerome Bettis is the kind of man who says the same thing to one group of people that he said to another.
    Ever thought of that? Maybe you haven’t met one of them lately. Bettis is an all-time great football player and writes columns about the sport now. If you want to know what he really thinks, just read anything he writes, regardless of the audience.
    Whatever happened to earning the trust of the audience first, and worrying about kissing up to them later? Well, that practice is safe and sound, and Jerome Bettis is out there earning trust every single day.
    Why the patronizing attitude toward Steelers fans? They can hear one man’s opinion and not freak out.

  9. TimTheEnchanter says: Sep 15, 2009 9:38 PM

    You’re implying that Steelers fans can read?

  10. this class sucks says: Sep 15, 2009 9:42 PM

    Once again as a life long Steeler fan and huge Bus fan I find nothing wrong with his comments (the “gloves off” comments). He is right that coaching did little to help the line via free agency, instead keeping the line together and improving through the draft (assuming A.Q. Shipley makes the team at some point). I don’t think the result of keeping all their O-line together this year would have been greatly different if they went out and got one or two O-Linemen via free agency. There simply weren’t that many good O-linemen to go out and get, and a trade, in my opinion, is a bad idea because you want to keep as much of your team together as possible if it showed Super Bowl wining results.
    But once again, I love the bus, I love the Steelers.

  11. drub says: Sep 15, 2009 9:47 PM

    Like picking the 22nd power ranking team to win the Super Bowl?

  12. Anrkist says: Sep 15, 2009 9:51 PM

    Ben got hit pretty hard last year too didn’t he. Not saying his luck wont run out but… the man seems rather resilient. I just remember these same stories… they seem a bit old. People are just waiting to say “I told you so!” and cash in on their great prediction.

  13. Kidekk says: Sep 15, 2009 10:06 PM

    Still, though it’s smart for Bettis to gauge his message to his audience, consistency of message is fairly important, too.
    And who would know better than Mike Florio.

  14. Beezer says: Sep 15, 2009 10:14 PM

    How is that a “remarkably different content and tone?” He called the offensive line from last year serviceable and said it should improve with familiarity. Criticizing the lines poor play after calling it serviceable is not that bad. It’s not like the bus said the line was among the best in the league. Relax Florio don’t get offended by the bus criticizing your favorite team. They will be fine as long as Ben learns to release the ball a little quicker.

  15. C.Bass says: Sep 15, 2009 10:18 PM


  16. ppdoc13 says: Sep 15, 2009 10:35 PM

    Much as I hated Bettis as a player for the Steelers, I find him to be a good color analyst. Both he and Chris Collinsworth don’t mind saying something controversial but when they talk they don’t sound like morons (see Meshawn Johnson.)
    Bettis is a thoughtful well spoken man. Personally, I hope he is right about the Squealers, but (hate to admit it) Jen Worthlessbuger has the ability to overcome deficiency in his line because of his size, strength and his knack for keeping a play alive.
    The real question in my mind is given the number of major hits he has taken (mostly by Ravens!!!!) will he be one of those QB’s like a Steve McNair who has a limited shelf life in the NFL before he starts to physically break down. (in Baltimore we all hope so.)
    I would suspect that most Steeler fans will give Bettis a pass on his comments. He has a lot of good will in the fan base and while his comments are critical they are not inappropriate.
    That was as close to complimenting the Steelers as I can get. I hope Mr. Magoo and Frank Burns are watching, because it was damned painful.

  17. steeler-hater says: Sep 15, 2009 10:40 PM

    Anyone who thinks that Bettis doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about please state what exactly he said that is incorrect.
    Trouble is, good luck finding it. What he said is the truth. It’s just some people hate hearing the ugly truth about their sports teams so much they get ticked off when they are forced to confront it, especially when it comes from an ex-player who’s butt the fans used to brown-nose a lot…

  18. mborz says: Sep 15, 2009 11:10 PM

    steeler-hater said: “Anyone who thinks that Bettis doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about please state what exactly he said that is incorrect.”
    Who said Bettis doesn’t know what he’s talking about?

  19. GregO says: Sep 15, 2009 11:15 PM

    These comments are not at all discordant. In both he calls out the offensive line as an area of concern. So he chose to use the word “serviceable” on the 10th, big deal in each case he was consistent with what he believes to be the biggest area of concern.
    I am not sure what you are getting out of these that are different. Do you actually expect him to say the exact same thing each time? Sometimes the standards that you try to hold people to are ridiculous and I am sure you cannot live up to them yourself.
    Glass houses my friend.

  20. thepittsburghkid says: Sep 15, 2009 11:31 PM

    read 6 time Super Bowl Champion bitch.

  21. Steelers4Life says: Sep 15, 2009 11:31 PM

    I think this is simply Florio trying to find a story where there isn’t one.
    You can go to pretty much any Steelers forum and find that the fans that post there share the same concerns as Bettis.
    I have no clue why this article by Bettis required two separate stories by Florio, but I can only assume it’s because he just doesn’t want to go into too much detail about how Brady nearly choked against the Bills.
    Again, to make it perfectly clear…every Steelers fan is concerned about the OL. We all know that the Steelers players and coaches will not publicly bash the OL and offensive coaches (other than the implied bashing that Parker handed out last year, that was quickly shot down). So it’s a bit refreshing honestly to see the truth printed out by someone who knows what the Steelers offense could and should be like.

  22. lichnor says: Sep 15, 2009 11:56 PM

    Jerome Bettis says what every Steelers fan in the country is thinking!
    Film @ 11.

  23. Dont Taze Me Bro says: Sep 16, 2009 12:18 AM

    If you ever read anything out of pittsburgh media, you will see that the OL was the biggest concern for this season.
    If you ever happen across a steeler message board, you will see that most steeler fans despise the OL and think the high point of OL coach Larry Zierling’s career was when he accidentally emailed porn to the entire league.

  24. Barcid says: Sep 16, 2009 2:07 AM

    Speaking of ‘Too Big To Fail,’ Steelers sure miss the Bus on 3rd-&-short, eh?

  25. BennyBoy says: Sep 16, 2009 2:12 AM

    Who cares?
    This is a non-story.

  26. killachap says: Sep 16, 2009 6:43 AM

    Here’s a new concept. Maybe Ben just sucks and doesnt know when he should throw the ball? No O-line can provide protection for 10 seconds like Ben wants. Maybe he is just the over rated one, i mean he did have a defense win him 2 superbowls.

  27. Inept_guy says: Sep 16, 2009 7:53 AM

    This article is total crap. Bettis clearly says they were “serviceable” last year. The line was below average, but not as terrible as people made them out to be. He says the line should be better and need to play well. Obviously after last week, they are not better and didn’t play well, so I don’t understand how you can fault that.
    No one in Pittsburgh is under the illusion that the O-line is good. No one would care if Bettis bashed them. The fact is that he said it was one of his concerns and he was hoping it would be better this year. They aren’t. Also in the SI article he doesn’t really fault the O-line. When below average talent gives you a below average performance, you can’t really blame the players.

  28. mrmagoo says: Sep 16, 2009 8:14 AM

    mborz says:
    September 15, 2009 11:10 PM
    steeler-hater said: “Anyone who thinks that Bettis doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about please state what exactly he said that is incorrect.”
    Who said Bettis doesn’t know what he’s talking about
    No one. Lil’ Suzy here is just trolling for something, anything.

  29. mike says: Sep 16, 2009 8:52 AM

    My ass feels dirty after reading all these comments. Where’s my Steelers towel?

  30. Darth Ringo says: Sep 16, 2009 1:17 PM

    Bob Labriola, the editor of Steelers Digest, has been critical of the O-line too.

  31. Steelers4Life says: Sep 16, 2009 5:35 PM

    killachap says: September 16, 2009 6:43 AM
    Here’s a new concept. Maybe Ben just sucks and doesnt know when he should throw the ball? No O-line can provide protection for 10 seconds like Ben wants. Maybe he is just the over rated one, i mean he did have a defense win him 2 superbowls.
    News flash Einstein…these articles are particularly about the run game, is the lack of run blocking Ben’s fault too somehow? And do you really believe that an OL that can’t run block effectively can pass block effectively? We all know full well that some of it is the fact that Ben holds on to the ball too long, but so do a lot of QB’s. The only difference is QB’s like Brady and both Mannings have very good OLs blocking for them.
    Oh, and in case you didn’t watch the last SB, the Steelers defense is what let the Cardinals gain the lead…Ben and the offense are the ones who won it in the end.

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