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In NFL, mother knows best

Players benefit from support of association

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Every time Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis reaches into his pocket for change, he pulls out at least 10 business cards of people who want his time or money.

Wanting to protect him from people who may not have his best interest at heart, his mother, Gladys Bettis, made it her job to inform herself on everything from good agents and doctors to handling wills and trusts.

"Even though they're men, they still kind of listen to their moms," the president of the Professional Football Players Mothers Association said. "If we can get the information, we can get it to them, especially if it's important."

Providing guidance that their multimillionaire sons can trust is a goal of the PFPMA, which is meeting in Nashville this weekend.

The group was organized in 1998 by Cassandra Sneed Ogden, mother of Baltimore Ravens tackle Jonathan Ogden, after learning about an NBA moms group started by Charlotte Brandon, mother of Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Terrell Brandon.

Ogden said she wanted to form an information network where mothers could share information and provide support for one another while trying to keep their sons grounded and connected to their families and communities.

The women first worked at just getting to know each other and helping new NFL moms deal with their sons' sudden success. They encouraged the mothers to listen and offer informed advice, and not to be another person grabbing for their son's money or celebrity.

Although not an official NFL organization, the moms group was welcomed by the league, which invites the mothers each year to the April draft and its rookie orientation each June.

"There's a reason why players always seem to say, 'Hi, Mom,' on TV," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. "These mothers installed discipline, responsibility and character. Players don't want to disappoint their mothers on or off the field."

Bettis said she never had anyone outside of her own family who understood what it was like to have a son who played professional sports. She said making that connection with other people, especially mothers, has helped her deal with the concern she feels when her son steps on the field.

And while loyal to their sons' teams, Gladys Bettis said the moms sit together at games and keep their friendships intact.

"We don't let our sons' teams and their professions bother us," she said. "We're all in it for the same reason. It's all the same — one big team."

The 80-member association provides information on wills and trusts, charities and maintaining Web sites. The mothers also kicked off a scholarship fund-raising drive.