In August of 2014, Pittsburgh Steelers’ running backs Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were cited for marijuana possession and Bell was to have the added charge of driving under the influence. This occurred the same day the team was to fly to Philadelphia for a preseason game with the Eagles.
Eventually, Bell was suspended and would miss the first two games of the 2015 season. Blount would go on to “quit” the Steelers and win a Super Bowl with New England.
In an interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson that was published just over a year ago today, Bell said,
“Marijuana is not an important thing for me,” he said. “It’s something I easily can set by. If I wanted to do it later on down my life, I’ll enjoy it later on. It’s something that got me in trouble. Football is what I love. I love the game of football and nothing will come to jeopardize that.”
One year later, Bell has suffered a horrible knee injury where the PCL and MCL were damaged and he missed yet another postseason for the Steelers. He’s also released a rap album and continues to “Snapchat” his workouts and abs to us at will. It isn’t so much what Bell has done recently that has the Steelers’ front office concerned, its what he wants to do that is raising some red flags.
Bell has been very open and adamant about the fact that he’d like to do a rap song with Snoop Dogg, the talented and often outspoken rapper from Southern California. Getting together for the collaboration of the song isn’t such a huge problem for anyone but the fact that Mr. Dogg is a known user and advocate for the use of marijuana cannot sit well with Art Rooney II, Kevin Colbert and company.
Since his arrest in 2014 Bell has done all of the right things. As far as any of us know, he’s stayed clean and he’s worked very hard to rehab his injured knee. This is after all a huge year for Bell. It’s the final year of his rookie deal and when healthy, he’s been one of the top running backs in all of football.
The question of whether the Steelers will “take care of him” contractually is in my mind right now a 50/50 proposition simply because he has to prove he can stay healthy. But to take it further and perhaps just as importantly, he has to prove he can make good decisions off the field. I don’t think anyone could blame the Steelers for being concerned could they?
Look at what’s happened with Martavis Bryant. He had issues at Clemson, got popped for four-game suspension and is now serving a one-year ban for repeated failures of the league’s drug-testing policy. When reports surfaced that another rapper and marijuana advocate, Wiz Khalifa was in the Steelers’ locker room with Bryant then things started to take shape and the shape wasn’t pretty.
The Steelers’ brass now look at Bell who is more valuable than Bryant as a guy potentially going down the same road. Therefore I can’t blame the front office for being concerned and not thrilled about Bell’s plans. I’m sorry marijuana isn’t legal for NFL players but right now the rule is what it is. Hanging out in the studio with Snoop probably isn’t the best way for Bell to exhibit to everyone just how much he “loves football.” Sometimes the company you keep is the best reflection of who you are.
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