Jerome Bettis latest Papa John's owner

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

The former Steelers running back announces purchase of three Pittsburgh-based pizza joints.

Perhaps former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis was impressed with all the Papa John's commercials Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning did this past season.

Whatever his reason, Bettis purchased three Papa John's stores in Pittsburgh recently, joining Manning as the most recent NFL icon to sling pizzas.

According to WTAE-TV, "Bettis' locations are on Centre Avenue in Pittsburgh, South Main Street in Greensburg and Frankstown Road in Penn Hills.

Bettis partnered with Bajco Group in the purchase, and the pair plan to open more outlets in the next couple of years.

"Having Jerome as a franchisee is huge for the Papa John's brand and for our customers in Pittsburgh," said John John Schnatter, Papa John's founder, chairman and CEO. "After getting to know him over the years I have no doubt that he will be able to replicate his success on the field at the restaurants."

Bettis and Manning appeared with Schnatter in a Papa John's commercial that aired during Super Bowl XLVI. Bettis and Schnatter were the parties involved in a coin toss officiated by Manning. Bettis expressed surprise that Manning, decked out in full official's uniform, was flipping the coin. Manning responsed, "Hey, a man's gotta work," in a jab at the fact Manning sat out the 2011 season with a neck injury.

Bettis called heads in the coin toss, and Manning confirmed to Schnatter he called "tails," a wink at the infamous Thanksgiving Day game coin toss fiasco in 1998. Bettis and then-captain (now Steelers secondary coach) Carnell Lake were at the 50-yard line for the coin toss to determine possession in overtime. Phil Luckett, the official, notified all in attendance Bettis ("Who will call it for Pittsburgh? Number 36.") would be the one calling heads or tails. In some versions, it seems like Lake may have said something before Bettis clearly says "tails."

Luckett said Bettis called "heads," and it landed tails. Detroit got the ball, and a 42-yard Jason Hanson field goal later, the Steelers fell to 7-5 on the season.

They would not win another game that year, and thus began the longest stretch of playoff inactivity in the franchise in a decade.

What does that have to do with pizza? Nothing, just worth rehashing.


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