Push for job not a shove, Bettis says

Pittsburgh Steelers

September 01, 2000

The Pittsburgh Steelers may be shuffling more than just their quarterbacks this season.

The Steelers sent a message to running back Jerome Bettis, their offensive staple the past four seasons, when they signed backup Richard Huntley to a three-year, $4 million deal.

But Bettis, who is playing out the final year of a four-year, $14 million contract, doesn't consider it a slight that the Steelers haven't discussed any contract extensions with him.

"I'm not disappointed," Bettis said. "I know it's business, and you can never mix your emotions with business.

"For me, this is the greatest place that I could possibly play. I love Pittsburgh. I want to retire here. That's my goal, and hopefully it's the goal of the team as well."

His future could depend on how far he can carry the Steelers this season.

At 28 years old, Bettis has accumulated some Hall of Fame-type numbers with 8,463 yards rushing in seven seasons and ranks fourth in rushing among active players. In all four seasons with the Steelers, Bettis has rushed for at least 1,000 yards.

But when Bettis slumped, so did the Steelers. Last season, Bettis rushed for 1,091 yards, his worst total in Pittsburgh.

Huntley, however, has intrigued the Steelers with his 6.1-yard average on 93 carries last season.

"They're both good running backs, and they're both going to play a lot this season," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said.

In Bettis' view, there's still no competition for his job.

"I don't feel that I have any proving to do," Bettis said. "I just have to go out and do what I know I can do and do what I have done in the past."

Steelers vs. Ravens

Key for Ravens: Capitalize on running game. The Ravens had six games with 100-yard rushers last year, two of which came against Pittsburgh.

Biggest headache: Holding onto the ball. The Ravens have committed nine turnovers in the past three games against the Steelers, fumbling six times.

Stat to watch: The Steelers had their first losing record (2-6) at Three Rivers Stadium in 1999 and are playing their last season there this year. Could the Ravens close it out by giving majority owner Art Modell just his second win there in the past 10 years?

Billick's impression: "Never count out [coach] Bill Cowher. They're going to play with intensity, emotion. They're going to do just what he says. They're going to try to play good defense, good special teams, run the ball and throw if they have to. That's a pretty good winning formula. I don't know if you can win a championship that way, but that's worked for them."

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