With one of his former teams in the Super Bowl this Sunday, Jerome Bettis has found himself a popular guest along radio row in Atlanta this week. However, while his experiences with the Los Angeles Rams are among the questions he is being asked, it should come as no surprise to learn that it was his insights about the Pittsburgh Steelers that dominated the conversation.
Appearing on a number of shows on Tuesday the included interviews with 93.7 The Fan on the Cook and Joe Show, a sit down with Dave Dameshek of the NFL Network, a segment for First Call on Fox Sports and a conversation with Boomer and Gio on CBS, Bettis was in high demand.
But regardless of who he spoke to, the message coming from the Hall of Fame running back was clear and consistent - From ownership through to players, everyone in Pittsburgh was responsible for the situation they found themselves in with Antonio Brown.
“This goes all the way to the top. This is ownership, head coach, coaches, players, everybody is a part of the problem and the only way it works is everybody is a part of the solution.”
Believing the situation was salvageable, Bettis suggested a firm set of rules needs to be put in place that will apply to EVERYONE on the roster. How Brown responds to those rules would then determine his future with the Steelers.
“You let him know, ‘hey You’re welcome, we expect to see in training camp, here’s what happens if you don’t show up to training camp, here’s what happens if you don’t show up to the first game . . . here’s what we expect out of you’ and you put the parameters out there. Now, if he comes and he’s willing to conform to the expectation that is put in place and if he doesn’t then clearly that’s his decision and you go forward from there.”
“There needs to be clarity on what the expectations are and this has to go for every single person. It can’t be only rules for certain people now because it’s been proven it doesn’t work when you do certain things for certain guys. Now you have to do it one way for everyone. Now it’s crystal clear this is what we have to do, where what is happens if you don’t do that and you move on.”
Sentiments he would echo when talking to Dameshek:
And again with Boomer and Gio:
Noting a lack of leadership in locker room since his time in Pittsburgh, Bettis seems to feel that many of the issues on the team started because of the leniency Tomlin showed towards certain players early on in his career.
Despite all the issues as he sees them, the former Steelers running back left no doubt that he would like to see Brown remain in Pittsburgh for the rest of his career.
"The 2018 Steelers had a championship-caliber team that imploded."— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 29, 2019
Former Steelers RB Jerome Bettis talks about his disappointment in the Steelers' organization this season. pic.twitter.com/k096qxdioD
Perhaps the most glaring omission from these multiple interviews is the relative lack of mention of Antonio Brown, especially when compared to the number of times Tomlin is individually singled out. Effectively characterize the actions of AB as that of a misbehaving given too much freedom, rather than the behavior of a 30-year old man, some fans might question how little Bettis appears to hold Brown culpable for own actions.
That being said, he is not wrong in holding the entire franchise responsible for this allowing things to become so dysfunctional, nor is he wrong when he suggests the team needs to set new standards going forward. Whether these are standards Brown is willing to conform to remains to be seen.