Jerome Bettis is many things to many people.
To many, Bettis is a former Steelers great and now Hall of Fame running back. He's also a leader in the community with his many charities. Bettis is also an ESPN analyst, and is often asked to give his honest, objective opinion.
That's exactly what Bettis was doing when asked about DeAngelo Williams' chances at catching on with another team after the now Steelers running back was released by the Panthers this past offseason. After spending his first nine years with the Panthers, Carolina cut Williams after the majority of his 2014 season was spent trying to overcome several injuries.
"It’s especially hard when you have a history of injuries. Not just this past year, but in prior years, you haven’t been able to stay healthy," Bettis said the day Williams was officially released. "That becomes a problem, especially when you’re 32-years-old. Teams are looking at you, and saying, ‘If you can’t be durable, and if you’re not available, how good are you going to be to me?’ I think there’s a lot of concern there, and it’ll be hard for him to find a job early in training camp. Maybe somebody gets hurt."
Little did Bettis know that it would be his former team that would sign Williams, who barring injury will be Pittsburgh's starting running back while Le'Veon Bell serves his three-game suspension. The 5'8'', 210-pound Williams put together a solid career in Carolina, as he is the team's career leader with 6,846 yards with an average of 4.8 yards per carry. Last season was Williams' least productive yet, as he rushed for just 219 yards in six games.
Bettis knows a thing or two about being a 32-yard-old running back and hearing doubts about his ability. At 32, Bettis watched as the Steelers brought in Duce Staley to start at running back, while 'The Bus' was delegated to a short yardage specialist. But after Staley was injured in Week 8, Bettis was back in the starting lineup, where he rushed for over 100 yards six times in his eight starts while earning a Pro Bowl berth. One year later, Bettis was on the podium in Detroit, hoisting up the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
There should be no ill-will in regards to Bettis' prior remarks of Williams; Bettis is paid (and certainly paid well) to offer his professional opinion after spending 13 years as an NFL running back. Williams is a professional too, and hopefully, he uses the doubts from analysts and media "experts" as motivation to ensure that his first season in Pittsburgh is one to remember. Most athletes thrive when doubted, and hopefully, that's the case for Williams as he looks to anchor the Steelers' rushing attack to kickoff the 2015 season.