You won your first Super Bowl ring with the Pittsburgh Steelers last
year. Was it tough to retire, or great to leave the game on the highest of
After playing for 13 years and winning in my hometown, it was easy to walk
away. I have no regrets. My career dreams were fulfilled.
You are one of 20 million Americans who have asthma. Did you need to
take special precautions before playing football?
Yes, I took a nebulizer treatment before every game and worked closely with my
doctors and team physicians to come up with a healthy game plan. Plus, I take
my meds daily.
You’ve been battered by a recent layoff, and high-stakes job interviews are taxing your nerves. As your financial worries mount, so do your attacks of shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. Is there a relationship between asthma and stress?
Yes, says Peter Gergen, MD, MPH, a senior medical officer at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Although stress won’t prompt a new case of asthma, it may worsen the disease in people who already have it, Gergen says. “During periods...
You had a serious asthma attack on the field once, didn't
In 1997 I had such a terrible attack I almost died. I was playing in
Jacksonville, Fla., it was late in the game, and the weather was really humid,
which is bad for asthma. My lungs tightened and I had to be rescued -- I was
given a nebulizer treatment on the sidelines. Back then my asthma was
uncontrolled, I didn't take it seriously. I did from that point on.
What advice can you give to others dealing with the challenge of
asthma, to keep them physically active?
Get educated. Work closely with your doctors to determine how in control your
asthma is. The results will help you create your own game plan to keep you
Has your diet changed since retirement?
I'm a big guy. I like to eat. I have to eat less now. That's it.
What foods do you go for most, and what do you try to
My downfall is oatmeal raisin cookies. I stay away from shellfish because I'm
allergic to it.
How about your training regimen? Have you taken up any new
I just retired in February! I haven't had time to take up new sports! But I do
train regularly to maintain my health.
You endured one of the most physically punishing careers on the
planet. Do you have ongoing aches and pains from your career?
Every day. But the key is staying active, loose, and limber.
How did you get your nickname, "The Bus"?
At Notre Dame whenever I scored I always dragged a few players with me into the
end zone, so they used to chant it in the stands. It disappeared when I played
for the Rams, but when I was traded to the Steelers, the broadcaster Myron Cope
dug it up, and the nickname was reborn.
Tell us about the Jerome Bettis Bus Stops Here Foundation and its
"Cyber Bus" program.
It's my charitable foundation. When I came to Pittsburgh the city gave me so
much, and I wanted to give back. Its mission is to help underprivileged kids,
to give them the same opportunities I had. We give out scholarships, offer
mentorships and college prep classes, and the "Cyber Bus" program
teaches computer literacy to kids who don't have access to computers.