(Photo: AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

(Photo: AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

By Mike Reiss - June 21, 2017

Originally appeared here in ESPN.com 

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis bleeds Pittsburgh Steelers black and gold, but as he boarded an airplane Tuesday set to return from Israel to the United States, he reflected on spending a week with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and laughed.

"I told my wife [Trameka], he has a new fan," Bettis said. "My phrase was 'I'm a friend of him, not of them.'"

That's how strongly Bettis -- who played several high-stakes games against the Patriots during his lengthy career with the Steelers -- felt about what transpired from June 13-21. Bettis was one of 18 Hall of Famers who joined Kraft on a trip to Israel.

"To have an opportunity for me and my wife to be baptized in the Jordan River, that was amazing. To have an opportunity, as a Christian, to see where Jesus Christ was born, was amazing. To walk in his footsteps. To go to the Church of Holy Sepulchre, those kind of things, things I read about in a Bible but to actually have an opportunity to walk and see it with my own eyes, they were amazing," Bettis said in a phone interview. Read More