Jerome Bettis

Similarities between 2017 Eagles and 2005 Steelers

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Similarities between 2017 Eagles and 2005 Steelers

Playoff football is here, baby! 

Six out of my 12 years in the NFL, I was blessed to be a part of the playoffs. My first two years with the Eagles, one year with the Lions, a year with the Giants and two with the Steelers.

During those playoff games I was one and done three times, done in the divisional round once, in the championship game twice, and I won Super Bowl XL.

As I watch the Eagles enter this divisional round, it brought me back to experiences that I will never forget. One impressive game was the Steelers at the Colts in the 2005 season. I remember the game clearly, as I looked across the sideline at Peyton Manning in his prime against our defense. There were so many key matchups in this battle with the Colts. Outside LB Joey Porter against perennial All-Pro left tackle Tarik Glenn. DT Casey Hampton against All-Pro center Jeff Saturday. The list of Pro Bowlers and future Hall of Famers on the field was evident, and it was very apparent at that point that this was a game for the ages.

When not on the field, I made it a point to take in the moment. I realized that I was in a special moment in my career, not because I was in my 11th year, but more so because I understood that there was something special going on. I knew we were going to win the Super Bowl because everything fell into place. This was the game when Jerome Bettis fumbled and Big Ben made the shoestring, saving tackle. 

I was at goal-line TE going into the end zone. Jerome was never a fumbler, and we ran 16 power to the right — our bread and butter play. Alan Faneca, our Pro-Bowl left guard, pulled to the right. All I had to do was cut the DE in the end zone. It was a guaranteed six points, and Bettis fumbled. Wow, what a play by Big Ben. 

This was one of the many plays during the year that led to Super Bowl XL in Detriot, Bettis' hometown. We as a team had to send JB into retirement with a ring. I just knew there was something special about this team going into the playoffs as a 6-seed.

Well ... Philadelphia, I feel like this team has the same mojo going on this year. I'm not saying that my Birds are going to the big game, but the Eagles have taken the next-man-up philosophy to a different level. Losing All-Pro players and future Hall of Famers throughout the season and still entering the playoffs as the No. 1 seed is an unbelievable accomplishment.

So I wrote all this to say, make sure you don't lose sight of the moment. Take in the experience of a top-seeded Eagles team ready to fight the odds and naysayers. It can be done as long as the 53 men and coaches believe, even when no one else does.

NFL Notes: Cowboys rookie WR Ryan Switzer finds mentor in Dez Bryant

NFL Notes: Cowboys rookie WR Ryan Switzer finds mentor in Dez Bryant

FRISCO, Texas -- Ryan Switzer exchanged a high-five with Dez Bryant, then two more, followed by a shoulder bump and a couple of dance moves with his celebrated Dallas teammate.

The rookie receiver isn't a typical fourth-round pick cloaked in anonymity. The 5-foot-8 speedster ran with the starters during offseason practices and he cooked up an elaborate handshake with Bryant, who wasn't the only Cowboys veteran to notice.

"Switz, man, that guy, he's the real deal. I love little Switz," Bryant said. "The way that he just loves being around this locker room and these guys, it was meant for him. Dallas was meant for him."

Switzer is almost a replica of teammate Cole Beasley, a slot receiver whose stature with the team has grown steadily over five seasons. But it's been Bryant who has taken the youngster under his wing. With Beasley and Lucky Whitehead sidelined with hamstring injuries, Switzer shared the field with Bryant frequently during the offseason, which wrapped up with minicamp last week.

"I think the love for the game is really what's hitting it off between us," Switzer said. "We're both very passionate about the game of football and what this game has done for us. It's been like that for everyone, especially the receiver room. Everyone enjoys what they do, and that's why it's such a close-knit group."

Lions: WR Golladay signs rookie contract
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions have all of their draft picks under contract now that third-round selection Kenny Golladay signed Monday.

The wide receiver was the only Detroit draft pick who didn't sign before the team's rookie minicamp last month.

The 6-foot-4, 213-pound Northern Illinois standout has an opportunity to be the Lions' No. 3 receiver this season behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones.

NFL: Bettis says league’s been cagey on concussions
JERUSALEM -- Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis says the NFL has taken advantage of its players by not sharing with them all the information it had about the risk of concussions.

After viewing an innovation expo in Jerusalem that included a presentation from ElMindA, an Israeli neuro-technology company that can help the NFL diagnose concussions, Bettis said Monday that he was encouraged by the progress but still perplexed about how transparent the league has been over the years.

"The problem is we don't necessarily know all the things the league is doing. For instance, working with this company here, you don't know if they are working with them closely to try to help solve the problem," Bettis said. "You definitely feel as though you were taken advantage of in a way that you weren't given that information, and you always want to have the choice of knowing, and when that is taken away from you, you feel as though you were taken advantage of."

Bettis, the NFL's sixth all-time leading rusher, said he suffered concussions during his 13-year career, adding, "I don't think you'll find many guys that had a long career, played 10-plus years, that didn't have a concussion."

After years of denials, the NFL eventually acknowledged the link between repeated blows to the head during football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE. The issue also garnered wide attention following the 2015 Will Smith film "Concussion" (see full story).

Packers: Fan sues Bears over gear on sideline
CHICAGO -- A Green Bay fan is making a federal case out of a dispute with the Chicago Bears, filing a lawsuit accusing the rival team of violating his free-speech rights by prohibiting him from wearing Packers apparel at Bears' pregame warmups.

Russell Beckman of Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, filed the 10-page lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago on Friday seeking a court order lifting the ban.

An email Beckman sent to Bears executives that he included in his court filing last week accuses the team of creating "segregated safe spaces for Bears fans" by banishing Packers gear.

"Stop coddling them," he wrote.

The filing includes a photograph of the lifelong Green Bay fan in a green-and-yellow Packers jersey and with his beard dyed green. Beckman lives just across the Illinois state line -- an hour drive north of Chicago -- and holds Bears season tickets, the lawsuit says.

The suit's focus is a Bears rewards program that lets season-ticket holders stand along the sidelines during certain pregame warmups at Soldier Field, something Beckman says he did in 2014 and 2015 in Packers apparel.

The Bears sent him an email before a December Bears-Packers game warning in capital letters, "NO OPPOSING TEAM GEAR WILL BE ALLOWED," according to the lawsuit. He went in Packers apparel anyway and was turned away.