Jerome Bettis knows what it’s like to be a young player clashing with a new coach who’s trying to adapt a college approach to the NFL. And Bettis doesn’t think the clash between Greg Schiano and Josh Freeman is going to turn out well for Schiano.
In 1993, Bettis was the first-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams. After Bettis’s first two seasons, the Rams hired longtime Oregon coach Rich Brooks. Bettis and Brooks immediately clashed, and Bettis said today on NFL Live that he thinks Schiano and Freeman have developed a relationship like the one that Bettis and Brooks once had.
“He treated me really badly, he pulled me out of the game, I would start one week, I wouldn’t start the next week, I would play the first quarter, I wouldn’t play,” Bettis said of playing for Brooks. “My teammates saw what was happening to me and they chose sides. Now there was a divided locker room, and once there’s a divided locker room there’s a problem. Obviously I was traded to Pittsburgh. It worked out well for me, didn’t work out well for Rich Brooks, though. He went another year, I believe, and then was fired after that. I think it clearly could be happening in Tampa.”
Bettis would go on to have an outstanding playing career with the Steelers, while Brooks would go on to have a mediocre coaching career, first as the defensive coordinator of the Falcons and then as the head coach at Kentucky. Time will tell whether Freeman can go on to have a career as successful as Bettis’s, and whether Schiano can avoid being a remembered as a college-to-NFL washout like Brooks.