He always said he’d return one day!
NFL Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis has returned to finish college nearly 30 years after he left.
Bettis graduated from high school in 1990, attending the University of Notre Dame where he played as a fullback. There, he put up impressive numbers, rushing 337 times for a total of 1,912 yards, eventually dropping out of school to pursue a career in the NFL. In 1993, he was drafted 10th overall to the Los Angeles Rams, staying with the team for almost 3 years before being traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers just before the start of the 1996 season.
He spent the remainder of his glorious career with the Steelers, retiring in 2006 after a total of 13 seasons in the NFL and a 21-10 Super Bowl win against the Seattle Seahawks in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan. Bettis is considered one of the best running backs of all time. He is one of only six players in NFL history to rush for 13,000 yards, one of only eight players to rush for 1,000 yards for eight or more seasons, was selected to the Pro Bowl six times, including in his rookie season and ranks third in rushing attempts.
Even after his days on the field were over, Bettis has continued to set a remarkable example. Through his “The Bus Stops Here” Foundation, he helps improve the quality of life for under-resourced children and works around the clock as an advocate for asthma education and awareness. He serves as a sports analyst for ESPN and is one of the most requested corporate speakers for Fortune 500 companies in the nation. In 2002, in honor of his efforts, Bettis received the Walter Payton Man of the Year award from the NFL and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015.
Despite all of his accomplishments, the popular sports star still had some unfinished business he needed to take care of, taking to social media to announce that he’d be returning to college. Bettis left to join the NFL nearly three decades ago but with his children as his inspiration, “The Bus,” has finally decided to return to the school, headed back to his alma mater, Notre Dame.
“I have always told my kids that whatever you start, you finish. Today I started my final semester at the University of [Notre Dame]. I knew when I left 27 years ago to go to the [NFL] that I would be back one day,” Bettis captioned a video of himself on campus.
I have always told my kids that whatever you start, you finish. Today I started my final semester at the University of @NotreDame. I knew when I left 27 years ago to go to the @NFL that I would be back one day. It’s never too late to pursue your dreams and further your education. pic.twitter.com/N06qKjwkpH— Jerome Bettis (@JeromeBettis36) January 11, 2022
According to Next Pittsburgh, Bettis is pursuing a degree in business and admits that returning after such a long hiatus hasn’t been the easiest, especially while juggling all of his other responsibilities.
“It’s been a while in the works. I finally decided there’s no time like the present…I knew I had to physically be on campus, but I wanted the degree from Notre Dame. It’s been tough. Last couple of classes, my head is spinning a bit,” Bettis told reporters.
Still, he’s persisting, adding college student again to his repertoire after all these years and inspiring us all. His message to everyone - “It’s never too late to pursue your dreams and further your education.”
We couldn’t have said it better and we couldn’t be more proud. Wishing you a successful final semester in college, Mr. Bettis!
UPDATE: Bettis graduated on May 16, 2022. See post below.
Photo Courtesy of Gene J. Puskar/The Associated Press