It’s been a long time coming, but Hall of Fame Steelers running back Jerome Bettis has graduated from Notre Dame after leaving the school early to pursue his football career.
Bettis, 50, is a 2022 graduate of Notre Dame’s Mendoza Business School.
“A promise made, a promise kept. 28 years after leaving Notre Dame, I’ve completed my degree from the Mendoza School of Business,” Bettis said in a post to social media. “I hope my journey serves as reminder that education is the true equalizer in life and it is never too late to start.”
A promise made, a promise kept. 28 years after leaving @NotreDame, I’ve completed my degree from the Mendoza School of Business. I hope my journey serves as reminder that education is the true equalizer in life and it is never too late to start. pic.twitter.com/J0Xn7Up47n
— Jerome Bettis (@JeromeBettis36) May 12, 2022
Bettis enrolled at Notre Dame in 1990 after growing up in Detroit, Michigan. He spent three years in South Bend, the last two as the Fighting Irish’s starting running back. In 1991, he set a Notre Dame record that still stands with 23 total touchdowns.
After the 1992 season, Bettis left Notre Dame to pursue his NFL career and was the No. 10 overall pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 1993 NFL Draft. Bettis was an All-Pro as an NFL rookie, but just a few years later, he found himself in a dispute with the Rams, and returned to Notre Dame to take more classes.
Bettis was then traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers and revitalized his NFL career. He rushed for 1,431 yards and scored 11 touchdowns in 1996, his first of six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with the Steelers. Bettis was named the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year that season and was a first-team All-Pro.
Bettis finished his career in 2005 with 13,662 yards, at that time fifth in NFL history and still the eighth-most ever. After Bettis’ final regular season, the Steelers won Super Bowl XL in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan, with Bettis retiring on stage as a champion. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
In 2021, he returned to Notre Dame with the intention of finishing his degree, and did so by attending regular classes with the rest of the student body.
“If I was going to come back, I wanted to be 100 percent engulfed in the experience, I didn’t want to come back and try to be secluded, or hard to touch or reach or contact,” Bettis said to The Athletic. “My thing was, I’ll never do it again. So let me provide all of the access as much as I can. Because if I can pay it forward, and provide any kind of information that’s going to help, that’s what I want to do.”
Bettis lives in the Atlanta area. He owns a trucking company, among other ventures, and works with his Jerome Bettis Bus Stops Here Foundation.