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WKCTC Professors on Ancestry Program

Retired NFL superstar Jerome The Bus Bettis traveled to Paducah in December in search of his roots. West Kentucky Community and Technical College professors helped him do that and will appear with Bettis on NBCs Who Do You Think You Are Friday night.

In its third year, the program, which airs Friday, March 9 at 7:00 p.m. on WPSD Local 6, helps celebrities trace their family trees to uncover the past with a journey of deep discovery. WKCTC History Professor Berry Craig of Mayfield and History Professor Emeritus John Robertson of Paducah worked with Bettis during his visit to help him figure out details about his great-grandfather, Abe Bogard, who stood against injustice in the Jim Crow era.

Bettis, 40, played halfback for the NFLs Los Angeles / St. Louis Rams and Pittsburg Steelers. He is currently sixth on the National Football Leagues all-time rushing list. He retired in 2006 after a Super Bowl victory. He is a commentator for the NFL Network and a former NBC studio analyst for Football Night in America.

As a history professor and avid football fan, Craig said meeting Bettis and helping him learn about his family who lived in Paducah was a great experience. Our job was to put the information he learned into historical context, Craig said. We helped him understand what Paducah was like during the time his great-grandfather lived here.

Robertson, Paducah historian and an official on the Illinois Central Railroad during the 1940s, learned about an incident involving Bettis great-grandfather. When I was a young man, I heard about Mr. Bogards story and it made such an impact on me that I still remember it 60 years later, Robertson said.

Robertson and Craig aren't the only WKCTC faculty to be a part of Bettis journey to Paducah. During his visit, Political Science Professor and Paducah City Commissioner Gerald Watkins collaborated with city officials to honor Bettis as a Duke of Paducah.

I was thrilled to get to meet Jerome and present him the highest honor the City of Paducah bestows upon outstanding individuals, Watkins said. He is a real gentleman and it was so exciting to have him in Paducah.

See a preview of Bettis interview.