SI.com's Tommy Alter caught up with Jerome Bettis to get the six-time Pro Bowl running back's observations about the latest happenings in the league. Bettis retired from the NFL in 2006 after a 13-year career. He's the NFL's fifth-leading rusher of all-time.
• I wasn't frustrated by the lockout. I understood both sides of the issue. When the owners decided to opt out of the CBA in 2008, it was clear that this stoppage was going to last a while. One thing I take issue with is that some fans say they are owed an apology. Football is a business just like anything else. When Delta pilots go on strike it's just something that the company has to deal with. If it causes an inconvenience, then you apologize, but ultimately nobody was inconvenienced here because we didn't miss any games.
• The players got a good deal. When I was playing, I would have been against an 18-game schedule. It would have been really demanding on everybody's body, but even worse considering my typical workload. Likewise, I didn't like two-a-days because they wore me down before the season started. The fact that the players were able to keep a 16-game schedule and get rid of two-a-days is a definite win for them.
• I'm disappointed in James Harrison. I was disappointed that James chose to speak publicly about his teammates. It should have been handled internally, especially because these same teammates stuck up for him last year when Roger Goodell fined him pretty hard for his hits. There's a place where you can express criticism of your teammates, but a magazine isn't it.
• The two-back system isn't effective. It seems that having two running backs is the new big thing in the league, but I'm not a fan. Running backs need multiple carries per series to be effective. It allows you to set up plays and bait defenders. If you don't get multiple touches, you'll be out of rhythm and less likely to have this mental advantage.
• Jamaal Charles will be the best running back in the league this year. Charles is fast and tough, but what will make him the best is the stability in the Chiefs' offense. Unlike running backs like Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson, Charles knows his system and head coach and knows that he has people around him who can make plays.
• Why Nnamdi Asomugha is the best free agent. It's not exactly a bold statement to say that Asomugha is the best free agent available this summer. What people don't necessarily understand, however, is why. He's either the first- or second-best cornerback in the league, with Darrelle Revis being the only guy who's even close. Because he's a cornerback, he can step in and be successful right away. It's not like playing quarterback or offensive line where you have to learn a new system. When you're a cover corner, the coach tells you, "go out there and sic 'em!" If he goes to the Jets and teams up with Revis, they'd make up maybe the best cornerback pair in NFL history.
• The draft is the path to success, not free agency. In fact, the draft is 10 times more important than free agency when it comes to building a team. Look at last year's Super Bowl teams. Both the Steelers and Packers built the foundation of their teams through the draft. It's good to add a missing piece here or there from the free agent market but you won't win a Super Bowl without being a strong drafting team.
• Plaxico Burress will make an impact this year. There's no question in my mind that Plaxico Burress can help a team this year. He's a smart, veteran player. He's never been a super speedy guy; his biggest attribute is his height. You don't ever lose height. He'll be very effective wherever he plays, because he knows how to use his body.
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