29 May, 2023
Le’Veon Bell recently made an appearance on a podcast. Over five years have passed since the former Pro Bowl running back played his final game wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform.
Bell made some startling confessions about his time in the NFL, which appears to be all but done as he pursues a boxing career, in an interview with the “Steel Here” podcast that was published on Friday. After splitting 2021 between the Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he did not play in the NFL in 2018.
The most unexpected statement came from Bell, now 31 years old, who said he never wanted to leave the Steelers but that he now regrets it more than ever after discovering what he gave up to increase his guaranteed salary during contract negotiations:
“I didn’t want to leave Pittsburgh, because at the end of the day, that’s where I was at. That’s where I got drafted. Especially after going to different teams and seeing how it is, it’s like when the team has their guy, you’re their guy. I was Pittsburgh’s guy.
“Now I see this thing like, ‘Bro.” it was a little petty … The guarantee stuff in the first time, I’m thinking, ‘Damn, could I really have just ate [the money]? Yeah, I probably could’ve.”
In 2017, Bell’s final campaign playing for the Steelers, he was named to his third Pro Bowl while still under the franchise tag. The Steelers once again franchised Bell for 2018, which caused Bell to reject the necessary agreement and sit out the entire season while pursuing an expensive extension.
Bell became a free agent after Pittsburgh declined to tag him for 2019, at which point he reportedly sought the highest-paying running back deal in NFL history. He didn’t get that; instead, he signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the New York Jets, with $35 million of that being guaranteed.
Le’Veon Bell slams Adam Gase once more and claims he smoked marijuana prior to games
You could argue that Bell’s fall from grace began when he declined to sign with the Steelers, but it actually began with his first encounter with Adam Gase, the Jets’ head coach at the time. Bell and Gase had a famously contentious relationship during Bell’s only season and a half with the Jets before the team released him. As you might expect, Bell continues to dislike Gase:
“Head coaches make a huge difference. As soon as I get to New York I find that out like the first week … Bro, the team wasn’t that great, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like if coach [Mike] Tomlin was coaching that team, we win nine games at least. It’s to the point where [quarterback] Sam Darnold doesn’t know the line’s protections because he’s so confused about our offense because the coach is confusing him.”
Despite the fact that Gase was largely to responsible for the Jets’ problems, Bell’s subsequent career did nothing to persuade the public that his abilities had been wasted. In his final 17 contests with the Kansas City Chiefs, Ravens, and Buccaneers, he rushed for a total of 355 yards and four touchdowns.
At the time of publication Le’Veon Bell’s net worth is just $12M. How much more money would he have made if he stayed in Pittsburgh and didn’t sit out?