when he was playing. If he fails, Bettis says, it won’t be because
he fell short in accumulating useful knowledge. “I’ve watched
people try to perform in the studio,” he says. “What you notice
immediately is that when they struggle it’s because they don’t
have any information to offer. When you don’t bring anything
to the studio other than yourself, you’re going to fight to survive
on the air.”
His first outing was a success. Bettis made his regular season
debut on NBC in grand fashion—in the stadium where he played
no less—as the Steelers took on the Miami Dolphins for the
NFL’s first game on Sept. 7. With 19. 3 million viewers watching—
the record for a Thursday night season opener—Bettis rolled
onto the field inside a No. 36 school bus and sprinted out, waving
the famed Pittsburgh terrible towel, blowing kisses to the crowd.
He and his former coach, Bill Cowher, embraced, and when he
made it to the broadcast booth, Bettis acknowledged that the
scene was a great chapter ending to a great story. Then he got
down to work.
Bettis is building this next chapter to last the long haul, not
as a short-term cash-in on his on-field fame. Even without his
amazing football career finish, Bettis would have been in huge
demand in TV sports circles.