Caught: Sidney Crosby plagiarized Jerome Bettis' emotional speech to teammates to 'get me back to Detroit'

On the plane ride back to Pittsburgh in the wee small hours of the morning following the Penguins' victory-for-the-ages over the Detroit Red Wings in game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals, Sidney Crosby stood up and gave what his teammates thought was an impromptu and heartfelt speech urging them to "get me back to Detroit" for game seven. Crosby's emotional plea was met with a tumultuous ovation, and most of the players reportedly had tears in their eyes.

It turns out the speech was a fraud.

Crosby lifted it, line for line, from former Steelers great Jerome "The Bus" Bettis who delivered it to this teammates before the AFC Championship game in January 2006. Bettis, who had never been to a Super Bowl in his storied career, implored the Steelers to "just get me to Detroit," his hometown, where Super Bowl XL was to be played.

Crosby implored his teammates to do the same thing for him but didn't bother attributing the words to Bettis. Some Penguins, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they should have realized "something was off" when Crosby said this: "Who would have ever guessed that a poor black kid from a Detroit ghetto would grow up to be the fifth leading rusher in NFL history?" Jordan Staal said he knew the speech "was kind of weird" when Crosby urged everyone to "stop by my restaurant, Jerome Bettis' Grille 36." Ryan Malone said he felt that Crosby "toyed with my emotions. I started feeling bad for him when he talked about what it means to grow up black. I feel manipulated."

It marked the second time a Penguin was caught in a plagiarism scandal. On January 24, 2006, when Mario Lemieux announced his second retirement, he said, "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth," stealing a line from baseball great Lou Gehrig. Lemieux was suspended from hockey for five years by former baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn, but when it was determined Kuhn had no jurisdiction over the matter, Lemieux was reinstated.