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Le'Veon Andrew Bell Sr. (/ˈlviɒn/ LAY-vee-on;[1] born February 18, 1992) is an American football running back for the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Michigan State, and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Le'Veon Bell
refer to caption
Bell with the Steelers in 2013
No. 26 – New York Jets
Position:Running back
Personal information
Born: (1992-02-18) February 18, 1992 (age 27)
Reynoldsburg, Ohio
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:225 lb (102 kg)
Career information
High school:Groveport Madison
(Groveport, Ohio)
College:Michigan State
NFL Draft:2013 / Round: 2 / Pick: 48
Career history
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 1, 2019
Rushing yards:5,396
Yards per carry:4.3
Rushing touchdowns:35
Receptions:318
Receiving yards:2,692
Receiving touchdowns:8
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

After a decent rookie season where he ran for over 800 yards, Bell broke out in his second season with the Steelers, totaling over 2,200 combined yards and made the Pro Bowl. Bell missed several games in the 2015 and 2016 seasons due to drug-related suspensions and injuries, but still put up solid numbers and was voted to the NFL Top 100 both times. In 2017, he had a league-high 321 carries for 1,291 yards, as well as 85 catches for 655 yards, and made the third Pro Bowl of his career. The next year, Bell refused to sign the franchise tag placed upon him by Pittsburgh, resulting in him sitting out the entire 2018 season. He signed with the Jets the following off-season.

High school careerEdit

Bell attended Groveport Madison High School in Groveport, Ohio, where he played football, basketball, and ran track.[2] He played running back for the Groveport Cruisers football team. As a sophomore, Bell ran for 789 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. As a junior, Bell ran for 1,100 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, and as a senior, Bell ran for 1,333 yards on 200 carries with 21 touchdowns. He was selected first-team All-Ohio Capital Conference Ohio Division as a senior. In basketball, Bell earned second-team All-OCC Ohio Division honors as a junior. He also participated in track & field while at Groveport, where he ran the 100 and 200-meter dashes and was one of the state's top performers in the high jump (personal-best of 6 feet and 8 inches or 2.03 meters).[3]

Considered a two-star recruit by ESPN.com, Bell was listed as the No. 211 running back in the nation in 2010.[4] Although he was a 3-year starter in high school, Bell had limited scholarship offers from Bowling Green, Marshall, and Eastern Michigan, but he hoped to attend Ohio State. Bell's high school principal, Donis Toler Jr., believed he was under-recruited and reached out to Michigan State's head coach Mark Dantonio. Although Dantonio had heard of Bell, they had never scouted him personally or had thought of offering him a scholarship. With football season over, Dantonio sent his running back's coach to scout Bell at his high school basketball game.[5] After he finished his senior football season, he finally received a scholarship offer from Michigan State after a number of players got into trouble and Michigan State had open scholarships available with a need at running back.[6] In 2010, he graduated from high school early and began attending Michigan State that spring semester.[7]

College careerEdit

Bell enrolled in Michigan State University, where he played for the Michigan State Spartans football team from 2010 to 2012.[8]

Freshman seasonEdit

As a freshman in 2010, he appeared in 13 games, rushing for 605 yards on 107 carries with eight rushing touchdowns. He also added 97 yards on 11 receptions and returned six kickoffs for 142 yards.[9] In total, he had 844 all-purpose yards.[10] He received All Big-Ten Freshman honors from ESPN.com and Rivals.com.[11]

Sophomore seasonEdit

As a sophomore in 2011, Bell led the Spartans in rushing with 948 yards on 182 carries and 13 touchdowns.[10] Against the Iowa Hawkeyes, he had 161 yards of total offense and a rushing touchdown. Against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, he had 165 all-purpose yards (96 rushing, 38 receiving, and 31 kickoff return yards) and two total touchdowns in the game.[12][10] Against #18 Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl, Bell rushed for 48 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns and had five receptions for 39 yards in Michigan State's 33–30 victory.[11][13]

Junior seasonEdit

Against Eastern Michigan in 2012, Bell ran for a career-high 253 yards while also claiming the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week Award.[14] He finished the season with 1,793 rushing yards, which was the second most in the Big Ten Conference.[15][16][17] He was voted to the First Team All-Big Ten by the coaches and media, ESPN.com, College Football News, and Phil Steele.[11]

After his junior season in 2012, Bell decided to forego his senior season and entered the 2013 NFL Draft.[18]

College statisticsEdit

Year Team GP–GS Rushing Receiving Kick returns
Att Gain Avg TD Long Avg/G Rec Yards Avg TD Long Avg/G No. Yards Avg TD Long
2010 Michigan State 13–0 107 605 5.7 8 75 46.5 11 97 8.8 0 35 7.5 6 142 23.7 0 32
2011 Michigan State 14–6 182 948 5.2 13 35 67.7 35 267 7.6 0 45 19.1 1 31 31.0 0 31
2012 Michigan State 13–13 382 1,793 4.7 12 40 137.9 32 167 5.2 1 20 12.8 4 46 11.5 0 31
Total 40–19 671 3,346 5.0 33 75 83.7 78 531 6.8 1 45 13.3 11 219 19.9 0 32

Professional careerEdit

Coming out of Michigan State, Bell was projected by the majority of analysts to be a second or third round selection. He was ranked as the fifth best running back by NFLDraftScout.com and ranked the best overall running back by NFL analyst Bucky Brooks.[19][20] He received an invitation to the NFL Combine and participated in all workouts and positional drills.

External video
  Le'Veon Bell's NFL Combine Workout

Bell was satisfied with his combine performance and only performed positional drills at Michigan State's Pro Day.[21] Bell, Dion Sims, William Gholston, Johnny Adams, and five other Michigan State prospects worked out in front of scouts and representatives from 29 NFL teams.[22] The only head coach that attended was Pittsburgh Steelers' head coach Mike Tomlin.[22] Scouts considered Bell a big bruising back with quick feet and lower body strength and also gave him positive reviews for his ability to run north-south, for his strong cuts, and nice bursts through holes. The only negative reviews were based on his limited ball-carrier vision, inconsistent blocking, and his height that would possibly affect his speed and ability to dodge tacklers.[21]

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt Arm length Hand size 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert jump Broad BP
6 ft 1 38 in
(1.86 m)
230 lb
(104 kg)
31 12 in
(0.80 m)
9 58 in
(0.24 m)
4.60 s 1.57 s 2.64 s 4.24 s 6.75 s 31 12 in
(0.80 m)
9 ft 10 in
(3.00 m)
24 reps
All values from NFL Combine[21][23]

Pittsburgh SteelersEdit

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Bell in the second round (48th overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft. He was the second running back to be selected that year, only behind Giovani Bernard (37th overall, Bengals).[24][25]

External video
  Steelers draft Le'Veon Bell 48th overall
  NFL Draft Profile: Le'Veon Bell

2013 season: Rookie yearEdit

On June 3, 2013, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Bell to a four-year, $4.12 million rookie contract that included $2.27 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $1.37 million.[26][27]

Bell entered training camp competing with veteran Isaac Redman for the Steelers' starting running back position.[28] In his second preseason game against the Washington Redskins, Bell was tackled on a running play and suffered a mid-foot sprain. His injury did not require surgery, but forced him to miss the first three weeks of the regular season.[29]

On September 29, 2013, Bell appeared in his first NFL game at Wembley Stadium in London and rushed for 57 yards on 16 carries and a season-high two rushing touchdowns while also catching four receptions for 27 yards against the Minnesota Vikings. His first NFL touchdown came on an eight-yard run in the first quarter of the game and the Steelers lost, 34–27, in his first NFL start.[30] The Steelers chose to release Isaac Redman on October 21, 2013. On November 28, 2013, Bell had 16 carries for 73 yards and ran for a season-long 43-yard touchdown, while also racking up a season-high seven catches for 63-yards during a 22–20 road loss to the Baltimore Ravens.[31] During a Week 16 road matchup against the Green Bay Packers, Bell had a season-high 26 carries for 124 yards and a rushing touchdown.[32] On December 29, 2013, in a game against division rival Cleveland Browns, Bell was able to break Steeler's legend Franco Harris's rookie record for total yards from scrimmage with a total of 1,259 yards.[33]

Bell finished his rookie season with 244 carries, 860 rushing yards, and eight rushing touchdowns. He also had 45 receptions for 399 yards and started the last 13 games of the season.[34][35]

2014 seasonEdit

Bell began his second season as a starter in the season opener against the Cleveland Browns and finished the game with 21 carries, 109 rushing yards, a rushing touchdown, and six receptions for 88 yards in a 30–27 home victory.[36] On September 21, 2014, Bell and LeGarrette Blount both rushed for over 100 yards each against the Carolina Panthers. He finished the 37–19 road victory with 21 carries for 147 rushing yards.[37][38] On October 20, 2014, Bell had eight catches for 88 yards and made his first NFL receiving touchdown in a 30–23 victory over the Houston Texans.[39] Bell became the first running back in Steelers' history to have seven consecutive games with 100 yards from scrimmage. Bell had his best game of the season, statistically, against the Tennessee Titans on November 17, 2014, gaining 204 rushing yards on a season-high 33 carries and a rushing touchdown.[40]

On November 30, 2014, Bell had a season-high eight receptions for 159 receiving yards while also accounting for 21 carries, 95 rushing yards, and a rushing touchdown in a 35–32 loss to the New Orleans Saints.[41] The next game, he carried the ball 26 times for 185 yards and made six catches for 50 yards while also scoring three total touchdowns in a 42–21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.[42] He earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his effort against the Saints.[43] Bell tied Walter Payton for most consecutive games with 200 or more yards from scrimmage with three after his performance against the Bengals. On December 29, Bell was injured against the Bengals as he hyperextended his knee when being tackled by safety Reggie Nelson.[44] Bell did not play against the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card Round of the 2014 playoffs, so the Steelers signed veteran and former Cleveland Browns' running back Ben Tate.[38]

Bell broke out in the 2014 season, going from rookie to All-Pro, finishing second in rushing yards, yards from scrimmage, and all-purpose yards to Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray.[45] He led all running backs in receiving yards and yards per reception.[34][46] He finished the season averaging 4.7 rushing yards per carry (YPC), up from 3.5 YPC in 2013.[47] Bell finished his first complete regular season with a career-high 290 carries, 1,361 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns, 83 receptions, 854 receiving yards, and 3 receiving touchdowns.[48] He was named to the Pro Bowl and was ranked 16th by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2015.[49][50]

2015 seasonEdit

After being arrested with then-teammate LeGarrette Blount on DUI and marijuana possession charges in August 2014, Bell was suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the 2015 regular season. On April 9, 2015, it was reported that the suspension was reduced to three games. On July 28, 2015, Bell's suspension was reduced from three games to two following a successful appeal.[51]

Bell made his 2015 debut against the St. Louis Rams in Week 3 on September 27, 2015. He finished the game with 19 carries for 62 yards and scored his first rushing touchdown of the season, while also accounting for seven catches for 70 receiving yards.[52] The following week, he had 22 rushing attempts for a season-high 129-yards and a touchdown in a 23–20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.[53] On October 12, 2015, Bell had 21 rushes for 111 yards and scored a last-second game-winning touchdown run out of the wildcat formation, helping the Steelers defeat the San Diego Chargers by a score of 24–20.[54][55] During a Week 6 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals, Bell rushed a season-high 24 times and finished the game with 88 rushing yards.[56][57]

On November 1, 2015, Bell suffered a season-ending torn MCL during the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals, after taking a tackle from linebacker Vontaze Burfict. The following day, the Steelers placed him on injured reserve, effectively ending his season. Bell finished the 2015 season with a total of 113 rushing attempts for 556 rushing yards and three touchdowns and 24 receptions for 136 receiving yards in six games and six starts.[58]

On November 6, 2015, it was reported by NFL Network analyst Jason La Canfora that Bell had undergone surgery to repair damage to the MCL/PCL. He was able to return in time for the 2016 off-season.[59] Despite the injury, he was ranked 41st by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016.[60]

2016 seasonEdit

On August 19, 2016, Bell was officially suspended for the first three games of the 2016 regular season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He stated in an apology on Twitter, that the suspension was due to a missed random drug test in December. The original suspension was four games, but was reduced to three on appeal and as a part of a settlement between the league and the NFL Player's Association.[61]

Bell played in his first game of the season on October 2, 2016, and had 18 carries, 144 rushing yards, five catches, and 34 receiving yards in a 43–14 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.[62] In a Week 7 matchup against the New England Patriots, Bell caught a career-high 10 passes for 68 receiving yards and had 21 carries for 81 rushing yards in a 27–16 loss.[63] On November 13, 2016, Bell carried the ball 17 times for 57 yards and scored his first rushing touchdown of the season during a 30–35 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He also accounted for nine receptions for 77 receiving yards and caught his first receiving touchdown of the season.[64] The next game, he had 28 carries for 146 yards and a touchdown during a 24–9 victory over the Cleveland Browns.[56][65]

On December 11, 2016, against the Buffalo Bills, Bell broke the Steelers franchise record for rushing yards in a game with 236 rushing yards on a career-high 38 carries while scoring three touchdowns.[66] The previous record was set by Willie Parker when he rushed for 223 yards in 2006.[67] Bell was named as the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in Week 14.[68] He was named to his second Pro Bowl on December 20, 2016.[69] Bell finished the 2016 regular season with 261 carries for 1,268 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, while also making 75 catches for 616 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 12 games and 12 starts. He also had a career-high four fumbles and lost only one.[70] Despite missing 4 of 16 games, he finished 3rd in the NFL (and 95th all-time) with 1,884 yards from scrimmage. He was also ranked ninth by his peers on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2017.[71]

On January 8, 2017, Bell started in his first NFL playoff game and finished with 29 carries for a playoff franchise-record 167 rushing yards and two touchdowns in a 30–12 defeat of the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card Round. His first career playoff touchdown came on a one-yard run in the second quarter and he also caught two passes for seven yards.[72][73] After the game, it was reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers will use their franchise tag on Bell while attempting to reach an agreement on a long-term contract. The next week, he broke his own team record with 170 rushing yards on 30 carries in an 18–16 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round.[74] As the first NFL player to rush over 150 yards in his first two playoff games, he set a record for most rushing yards in the first two playoff games, became one of four players to ever rush for 150+ yards in back to back playoff games, and one of three players with two 160+ yard playoff games in a career.[75] However, he suffered a groin injury late in the game, which grew unmanageable during the AFC Championship loss to the New England Patriots, and he was forced to leave in the second quarter.[76][77] He was ranked #9 by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2017.[78]

2017 seasonEdit

On February 27, 2017, the Steelers placed the franchise tag on Bell.[79][80] On September 24, 2017, Bell had six receptions for 37 receiving yards, 15 carries for 61 rushing yards, and scored his first touchdown of the season on a one-yard run as the Steelers lost to the Chicago Bears by a score of 23–17.[81] The following week, he had a season-high 35 carries for 144 rushing yards and two touchdowns during the Pittsburgh Steelers 26–9 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.[82] In Week 6, Bell rushed for 179 yards in a 19–13 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, earning him AFC Offensive Player of the Week.[83][84][85] In Week 12, against the Green Bay Packers was even more productive, with 95 rushing yards and 88 receiving yards on a season-high 12 receptions.[86] During Monday Night Football against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13, Bell provided 182 total yards of offense, with 106 receiving yards, 76 rushing yards, and a touchdown as the Steelers won 23–20.[87] On December 19, 2017, Bell was named to his third Pro Bowl.[88] In addition, he was named as a First Team All-Pro for the second time in his career.[89] The Steelers had locked a second round bye for the playoffs after going 13–3 in the regular season.[90] Overall, he finished the 2017 season with a league-high 321 carries for 1,291 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns to go along with 85 receptions for 655 yards and two receiving touchdowns.[91] He was ranked fifth by his peers on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2018.[92]

On January 11, 2018, Bell said that if the Steelers franchise tagged him again, he would definitely consider sitting out for the year or retiring from the NFL. In 2016, Bell reportedly turned down a two-year deal worth $30 million. Bell said he was not concerned about making the most money possible, but instead wanted to be paid in relation with his value to the team, reportedly saying, "I just want to be valued where I'm at" and "Just get the numbers straight, exactly where we want them. I'm not going to settle for anything. I know what I do and what I bring to the table. I'm not going out here getting the ball 400 times if I'm not getting what I feel I'm valued at." After news broke across the internet, Bell tweeted: "I’m trying to win a super bowl...I can care less about what happens after this season...my biggest thing I’m focused on is this team I’m on right now, playing for/with my brothers, & bringing back a 7th ring! what happens next year is irrelevant to my goals".[93]

On January 14, 2018, Bell sent a tweet before playing in the AFC Divisional Round against the Jacksonville Jaguars saying "I love round 2’s...we’ll have two round 2’s in back to back weeks...",[94] referring to their rematch against the Jaguars, along with a possible rematch against the Patriots. The Steelers ended up losing to the Jaguars in a high scoring 45–42 affair in which Bell carried the ball 16 times and gathered 67 rushing yards and a touchdown. Bell also caught nine passes for 88 yards and a receiving touchdown.[95]

2018 seasonEdit

On March 6, 2018, the Steelers placed the franchise tag on Bell for the second straight year worth $14.5 million.[96] Bell refused to sign the franchise tag and did not attend any team activities after contract negotiations stalled on July 16.[97][98]

Bell missed the first nine regular season games, and then did not report to the Steelers prior to the NFL's November 13 deadline to sign his franchise tender, therefore making him ineligible to play in the 2018 NFL season.[99][100]

On February 20, 2019, the Steelers announced that they would not use the franchise tag on Bell, making him a free agent at the start of the new official NFL year on March 13.[101][102]

New York JetsEdit

2019 seasonEdit

On March 13, 2019, Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the New York Jets with $35 million guaranteed, making him the second highest paid running back in the NFL.[103][104]

After holding out for the preseason, Bell played his first game with the Jets on September 8, 2019, against the Buffalo Bills where Bell rushed 17 times for 60 yards and caught 6 passes for 32 yards and a touchdown as the Jets lost 17–16.[105] Dealing with shoulder soreness, Bell played in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football, where he finished with 68 rushing yards and a lost fumble as the Jets lost 23–3.[106]

Playing styleEdit

Bell is known for his unconventional running style. While not the fastest runner, he is still considered elusive due to his patience in waiting for his blockers to create running lanes before suddenly accelerating for a big gain, despite coaches and analysts advising running backs to "hit a hole with authority". CBS sportscaster Phil Simms has nicknamed Bell the "Great Hesitator".[107][108]

NFL statisticsEdit

Legend
Led the league
Bold Career high

Regular seasonEdit

Year Team Games Rushing Receiving Fumbles
GP GS Att Yds Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Avg Lng TD Fum Lost
2013 PIT 13 13 244 860 3.5 43 8 45 399 8.9 43 0 1 1
2014 PIT 16 16 290 1,361 4.7 81 8 83 854 10.3 48 3 0 0
2015 PIT 6 6 113 556 4.9 42 3 24 136 5.7 20 0 0 0
2016 PIT 12 12 261 1,268 4.9 44 7 75 616 8.2 32 2 4 1
2017 PIT 15 15 321 1,291 4.0 27 9 85 655 7.7 42 2 3 2
2018 PIT 0 0 Sat out for the year
Total 62 62 1,229 5,336 4.3 81 35 312 2,660 8.5 48 7 8 4

PostseasonEdit

Source: [1]

Year Team Games Rushing Receiving Fumbles
GP GS Att Yds Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Avg Lng TD Fum Lost
2014 PIT 0 0 Did not play due to injury
2015 PIT 0 0 Did not play due to injury
2016 PIT 3 3 65 357 5.5 38 2 4 3 0.8 4 0 0 0
2017 PIT 1 1 16 67 4.2 21 1 9 88 9.8 22 1 0 0
Total 4 4 81 424 5.2 38 3 13 91 7.0 22 1 0 0

NFL recordsEdit

  • First NFL player to rush over 150 yards in his first two playoff games
  • Most rushing yards in a player's first two playoff games: 337

Steelers franchise recordsEdit

  • Most rushing yards per game: 86.3
  • Most receptions by a running back: 307
  • Most receiving yards by a running back: 2,632
  • Most receptions by a running back in a season: 85 (2017)
  • Most receiving yards by a running back in a season: 854 (2014)
  • Most scrimmage yards in a season: 2,215 (2014)
  • Most scrimmage yards in a season by a rookie: 1,259 (2013)
  • Most rushing yards in a game: 236 (2016)
  • Most rushing yards in a playoff game: 170 (2016)

Personal lifeEdit

Bell was born February 18, 1992, in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, to Lisa A. Bell.[11] His mother and grandfather have been lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fans.[109] Throughout his childhood, his mother raised Bell and his siblings by herself and struggled financially.[110] Bell has two older sisters and two younger brothers, both of whom also play football. He cites his high school principal, Donis Toler Jr., and his mother as the two people responsible for helping him achieve his success. Toler was a father figure in Bell's life and helped him get noticed by Michigan State.[111]

He has numerous tattoos including two scriptures. He has Jeremiah 1:5 on his left arm with a picture of his mother embracing him after Michigan State suffered a loss in the Big Ten Championship.[112] Bell also has John 3:16 on his left arm, along with "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."[111]

On August 20, 2014, Bell was driving with his then-Steelers teammate LeGarrette Blount and Bell's girlfriend at the time, Mercedes Dollson, when he was pulled over by the police. The officer searched the car after he claimed to notice the smell of marijuana.[113] The search yielded 20 grams of marijuana, and the three were arrested for marijuana possession. Bell was sentenced to 15 months of probation, a 60-day suspension of his driver's license, DUI education classes, and $2,400 in court costs.[114]

Bell is active in charity work and fundraisers. He works with PETA and posed for one of the organization's advertisements, which showed him without a shirt with a caption saying, "I choose ink, not mink... Because animals deserve better!"[115]

Musical careerEdit

Bell, going by the stage name "Juice", started his music career with a 16-song album released via SoundCloud on March 27, 2017.[116] On May 27, 2018 Bell released a single titled "Target" responding to critics in regards to his contract dispute with the Steelers among other things.[117] He followed up "Target" with a four-song project titled "My Side of Things" telling his side of the story regarding his second straight contract hold out with the Steelers.[118] On March 13, 2019, Bell released an album called "Life is a Gamble".[119]

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit