aerobic-type exercises now, instead of focusing mainly
on the weights to get strong and the track to get fast.
I’ll get on the stationary bike or the elliptical machine
for an hour now—or more—several days a week.”
Today, Bettis splits his time between Detroit
and New York, where he commutes to on weekends.
During the week, he’s devoted to another passion:
that of a major player in property development. He’s
launched the partnership Bettis/Betters Development to spark major retail and residential activity in
downtown Detroit, having acquired 42 waterfront
acres. For years Detroit has suffered from image
problems, but thanks to a baseball/football stadium-building effort, the city is making strides. “This
property is downtown, about 15 minutes from the
stadiums,” Bettis says. “I want to help bring a lot of
activity and interest there, because Detroit needs
that kind of energy ... You look at an area like this,
and you can see nothing but possibilities.”
And he remains committed to his foundation.
Among other accomplishments, Bus Stops Here
has paved the way for more than 30 scholarships for
needy kids. Every year, Bettis hosts
a free football camp, and his Cyber
Bus program has given more than
200 Detroit and Pittsburgh middle
and high school students access
to the latest computer technology. “Now that I’m not playing,
I’m able to devote more time to
this,” Bettis says. “We’re going to
be expanding the Cyber Bus, for
example. The digital divide is for
real, and these poor kids in the city
aren’t getting the same exposure
to technology that other kids are getting. That’s
going to leave them behind when it comes to their
education and their futures.”
He’s also getting dividends from his fairy-tale
end of a career, with strangers—many of whom
were never Steeler fans—confiding in him that the
turn-of-fate immediately transformed them into
Jerome Bettis fans for life.
“I still have all kinds of people telling me that
they hoped and wished that my career didn’t end
with that fumble, and that they kept
following me through the playoffs
to see that I finally got my ring,”
Bettis says. “That’s very gratifying.
Now, the same people are asking
me what I know about the NFL.
That’s why I have to keep preparing the way I am. I don’t want to
have them ask something and not
have the answers.”
Bettis recently took part in a high-profile “conference”
in which he and other distinguished members of a panel
resolved to answer these questions:
1. Is it OK to ask out a girl who dumped your best friend?
If so, how long do you wait?
2. What’s the most appropriate way to clink a beer bottle with
a friend for a toast?
1. Yes, especially if she’s hot. Six months.
2. By clinking the bottom parts of the bottle. Clinking the
tops brings up the risk of “spit exchange.”
All this weighty discussion is part of the hit series of ads produced for
Miller Brewing, as Bettis and an all-star cast—including actor Burt
Reynolds, wrestler Triple H, comedian Eddie Griffin and bull-riding
legend Ty Murray—debate classic “guy” situations.
The spots have been dubbed the “Man Laws” ads,
and they’re a huge hit. The creative brainchild of
Miami-based Crispin Porter and Bogusky agency, the
ads have the potential to do for Miller what the leg-
endary “Tastes Great/Less Filling” campaign did in
the 1970s and ’80s. Originally, eight ads were shot in
March. Six more have been ordered. Thousands of
fans flock to the Web site, manlaws.com, to offer their
own ideas for future laws.
“We needed the right mix of guys for this ad,
and Jerome was a perfect fit,” says Paul
Keister, the creative director behind
the campaign. “He’s loved by everyone.
He engages everyone he meets. His
expressions and posture convey a complete sense of confidence about what
For Bettis, the experience was a blast.
“Burt is just a great, funny guy who
always wants to talk football,” he says
of Reynolds, a former football star at
Florida State. “And Eddie Griffin is just
amazing—he’ll improvise some lines right
there on the spot that are just flat-out hilarious. Now,
when I’m walking down the street, I have people com-
ing up to me chanting, ‘Man Laws! Man Laws!’”
Oh, and while he was shooting, an interesting
guest was sitting in the crowd of guys: Murray’s
girlfriend, who happens to be Jewel, the singer-songwriter who’d clearly be the exception to that
“I knew she was his girlfriend,” Bettis confesses,
“but I had no idea who she was.”