This Saturday the Steelers will be taking on the Rams in what will likely be the last home game of the season for Pittsburgh. Because the game will be played on Christmas Eve, I thought that it would be nice to take a look back at the best gift that has ever been given to the Steelers by the St. Louis Rams franchise: RB Jerome Bettis. So hit that “Continue Reading” button and let’s get started:
Thank Whatever Deity is in Charge for Rich Brooks:
How the already 2x Pro Bowler Bettis even made his way onto the “trading block” was crazy to say the least. Bettis burst on the N.F.L. scene as a Rookie in 1993, finished with 1,429 yards rushing, and won the A.P. N.F.L. Rookie of the Year Award while flourishing in then-Head Coach Chuck Knox’s run-heavy Offense. 1994 saw Bettis’ stats drop off a tad, but he still ended the season with 1,024 yards and earned his 2nd Pro Bowl berth.
Unfortunately for Bettis, Knox was fired after the 1994 season and former Oregon Head Coach Rich Brooks was brought in to replace him. Bettis wasn’t a fan of the move because Brooks didn’t want to continue to employ the “Ground Chuck” attack that helped Jerome to become a star under Knox.
Moreover, Bettis wanted a new contract that he felt like he deserved after he put together two fantastic seasons for the Rams. Thus, Jerome held out during Training Camp prior to 1995 and the issues between Brooks and Bettis continued throughout the season.
With Brooks’ negative attitude towards him, playing time taken away from him, and a bum foot to boot, Bettis’ numbers and productivity diminished to the tune of 637 yards rushing in 1995. Angered and disheartened by the rocky 1995 season, Bettis appeared to be floundering in St. Louis and was in need of a change of scenery. Bettis’ situation in St. Louis was so bad that he was even asked to start taking reps at FB in 1996! With Rich Brooks and the Rams’ Front Office firmly planted on the anti-Bettis bandwagon, the Rams (who were picking 6th) were interested in getting a new RB in the 1996 N.F.L. Draft.
The Traffic Stop that Changed Steelers History
For those of you that don’t remember, Byron “Bam” Morris was a pretty darn talented player. The 1993 Doak Walker Award winner from Texas Tech had over 1,000 yards of Total Offense during his Rookie season in 1994 with the Steelers (836 rushing and 204 receiving). In 1995, the 250-260 lb. Bam scored 9 TD’s while splitting time with scat-back Eric Pee-Wee Pegram. Bam and Pegram were nice compliments to each other that season and had a nice “Thunder & Lightning” thing going. Morris even had a decent day in Super Bowl XXX and gained 73 yards on the ground with a TD.
Yep, things were looking up for the 24 year old Bam and the Steelers heading into 1996. But then a traffic stop changed the face of Pittsburgh Steelers history and Bam Morris’ life forever.
In late March of 1996, Bam was pulled over in a traffic stop by the Police in Texas. Unfortunately, Morris’ car had 6 lbs. of marijuana in it as well as 1.5 grams of cocaine! With that one idiot move, Bam’s bright future in Pittsburgh came to a screeching halt.
After pleading guilty to a lesser charge of felony possession of marijuana, Morris was cut before the 1996 season started, and the Steelers were in need of a “Power Back” to fill Bam’s old role. Luckily, Rich Brooks had an RB available that did exactly what the Steelers wanted to do: pound the rock.