Peter Diana, Post-Gazette
Jerome Bettis rolls the first ball in front of a bevy of cameramen Feb. 2, 2006, at the Jerome Bettis Super Bowling Extravaganza at the Garden City Bowl in Detroit. Bettis will be inducted into the Bowling Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame has decided to induct Jerome Bettis this year, two months after his retirement from the Steelers.
He won't go in for his 13 years as a pro football player, not yet anyway, because he must wait five years before he's a candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Bowling Hall of Fame, however, does not have such a wait.
Bettis, who became an accomplished amateur bowler long before he played football, will be the first person inducted into the new Celebrities Bowling Hall of Fame, part of the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in St. Louis.
The Bus, who counts a perfect 300 game he rolled in competition among his favorite moments, will be enshrined June 28 at the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America's International Bowl Expo at the Las Vegas Hilton.
While Bettis has not bowled professionally, the Hall of Fame chose him for its new wing because of his long support of the sport and his participation as an amateur. Bettis bowls often and averages over 200. He annually puts on a "Super Bowling Party" in Detroit during Super Bowl week for his The Bus Stops Here Foundation.
He started bowling as a youngster and dreamed of playing professionally until his interests later turned to another sport.
"I have bowled my entire life and gained great pleasure and enjoyment from the sport," Bettis said. "This is a tremendous honor. I hope my enshrinement and continued involvement in the sport will inspire others to enjoy the camaraderie, fun and great competition that bowling offers."
"We feel that no one has served the sport of bowling more effectively as a non-bowling industry participant than Jerome Bettis," said Jeff Boje, president of the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America. "We feel he is the ideal person to be the first celebrity inductee into the Hall of Fame."
Said Jerry Baltz, the museum's executive director: "The new Celebrities Hall of Fame will honor those non-bowling celebrities who by their public actions and comments have significantly increased the general public's positive awareness of the sport of bowling. Jerome exemplifies all of these attributes and we're proud to welcome him to the Hall."
An exhibit honoring Bettis and future celebrity inductees will be housed at the bowling museum in St. Louis. Bettis will join such bowling notables as Earl Anthony, Dick Weber, Don Johnson and Don Carter who are honored at the International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame.
Elbert Avery, the agent for Willie Parker, met with Steelers negotiator Omar Khan yesterday afternoon at their offices on the South Side, trying to get a new deal for the running back. Parker's contract expired after last season but because he has only two years in the NFL, he is not a free agent. If he does not come to terms on a long-term deal, he must play for a $445,000 salary this season and would become a restricted free agent in 2007. He cannot become unrestricted until 2008, after his fourth season in the league. Parker led the Steelers with 1,202 yards rushing last season and set a Super Bowl record with a 75-yard touchdown run.
Ed Bouchette can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-3878.