Jerome Bettis will always have a place in the hearts of Notre Dame fans. He’ll be a legend forever in Pittsburgh. And he may never have to buy a drink again in his hometown of Detroit. But for another group entirely, he’s that football player who appeared in the third season of The Office.
It’s almost unthinkable that it’s been 10 years since Bettis made a cameo in the workplace drama. The episode premiered on Sept. 26, 2006. Since then, Bettis became a commentator and got himself inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Stars from The Office like Steve Carell and Ed Helms became bonafide stars in Hollywood. Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) was in that Benghazi movie. Writer Michael Schur (who played Cousin Mose in the show) created Parks and Recreation with Greg Daniels, as well as Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and The Good Place. The Steelers won another Super Bowl in 2009. And you found your way to this website to read about it in the year 2016. Fun times.
But why was Bettis the one picked in the first place?
That’s the magic of television contracts. Bettis retired from football after Super Bowl XL and joined NBC for their Football Night In America show. NBC, of course, was the home of The Office. When the show needed a football player for “The Convention,” they went to NBC, and Bettis got the call.
The premise of the episode was that Michael Scott (Carell) and Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) attended a paper convention, and while there, they ran into Jim (Krasinski), who had recently joined a rival branch of the company. The convention was no different from any other trade show. There were vendors, giveways and freebies, silly contests, and special guest appearances. Bettis was one of the special guests who paper salesmen could chat up, get autographs and take pictures with.
The network got in touch with Bettis thinking maybe he’d be averse doing it, and that he’d have to be coaxed a little bit. That was not the case.