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Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Bowling Hall of Fame pins Bettis selection on celebrity

Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Just a little more than two months after announcing his retirement from football, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis is already headed for the Hall of Fame -- the Bowling Hall of Fame.

The International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame sits near Busch Stadium in St. Louis. For the first time, the hall is honoring celebrity bowlers. Bettis, 34, will be the first inductee into the Celebrities Bowling Hall of Fame, the organization announced Tuesday.

"I have bowled my entire life and gained great pleasure and enjoyment from the sport," Bettis said in a statement. "This is a tremendous honor."

Bettis has bowled since growing up in Detroit and, according to the Bowling Hall of Fame, maintains an average of more than 200. He has rolled a perfect 300 game.

Bettis is scheduled to be enshrined June 28 during the Bowling Proprietor's Association of America's International Bowl Expo in Las Vegas, which worked with the museum in establishing the new wing.

John Bergland, executive director of the association, said Bettis was an easy choice for the first celebrity inductee.

"Two things. One, he's an outstanding bowler," Bergland said. "Number two, he has great passion for the sport and he regularly promotes it."

Bettis hosted a bowling charity event in Detroit during Super Bowl week. The gregarious Bettis has been known to call up fan club members and invite them to go bowling. In interviews and on talk shows, he has often said how much he enjoys the sport.

The museum honors bowling's long history, as well as pro bowing legends such as Earl Anthony, Dick Weber, Don Johnson and Don Carter.

It may not be the last Hall of Fame for Bettis, who called it quits after the Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in Super Bowl 40. He began his career with the Los Angeles Rams and came with the team to St. Louis for one season before being traded to Pittsburgh prior to the 1996 season.

Known as the Bus for his wide body and hard-running, straight-ahead style, Bettis gained 13,662 yards and scored 91 touchdowns in 13 NFL seasons. He is fifth on the league's all-time rushing list, behind only Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Curtis Martin.