South Bend, Indiana — Jerome Bettis left him with one more special Notre Dame Stadium moment.
Perhaps the most special.
Now a Notre Dame student and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the student will receive her diploma on a Sunday morning after 28 years of leaving school to pursue her NFL dream.
Bettis, 50, returned to South Bend last semester after completing her degree requirements at the Mendoza School of Business. She also kept her promise to her mother.
“I sat in Lou Holtz’s office a few years ago and promised her that I’d graduate,” Betis told a Pod of Gold podcast last month. “So I owe her something.”
After three brilliant years at Irish backfield with quarterback Rick Mirer and tailback Reggie Brooks, Holtz and Bettis agreed it was time for him to head to the NFL.
After his Hall of Fame career with the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers, his promises remained and the example Betis wanted to pass on to his high school children.
“I understand how important it is to have children now,” he said. “I want my kids to understand how important it is to get a college degree.”
After leaving Notre Dame at the end of the 1992 season, Betis was drafted by the Rams with the 10th overall pick and won the NFL Attacking Rookie of the Year award after a 1,429 yard, seven touchdown season.
Bettis was traded to the Steelers in 1996 and continued to take a hit. His last game was 10 years later at Super Bowl XL (40), when the Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Betis’ hometown of Detroit.
He finished his career with 13,662 yards (8th in NFL history) and 91 rushing touchdowns (11th in NFL history).
After returning to Notre Dame, Bettis took part in group projects, attended basketball games and helped the football team led by first-year manager Marcus Freeman. He has experienced many activities that college students can do. What he couldn’t do the first time while providing help to the person he asked for.
“If I can pay upfront and provide helpful information, that’s what I want to do,” Betis said. “This is a program I love. I am responsible for giving me the opportunity to get where I can reach. So if I hadn’t played here, I wouldn’t have been in the Pro Football Hall of Fame if I hadn’t been successful here.” .”
Bettis says he will use the knowledge he learns in the classroom and apply it to many of his businesses.
Bettis was only a few credits short of the 1993 draft. Now he closes a chapter in his life in 2022.
“I’m so excited,” Betis explained. “It’s the culmination of years of hard work to get things done. Being able to start something and now finish it is a big highlight for me.”