Le’Veon Bell wants to retire Steeler, doesn’t rule out playing for team again: ‘Could come back for pre-season game’

Le’Veon Bell was one of the best running backs in the NFL during his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He appeared three times in the Pro Bowl and was named to the All-Pro first team twice, all in his first five seasons. Then came the contract dispute, the rejection and the eventual transfer to the New York Jets for the 2019 season. Pittsburgh and the Steelers organization.

Bell, appearing on the steel here podcast with Kevin Adams and Jersey Jerry, offered thoughts on many different topics, including where he is with his NFL career after not playing in the 2022 season.

“I never really officially retired,” said Bell, who played five games with the Baltimore Ravens and three with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021. “The day I retire will be with Pittsburgh. I’m going to try and retire with Pittsburgh. But before I do that, I might say, hey bro, let me run some errands in preseason so I can show you all.

It would certainly make a splash, the return of a running back who was such an integral part of the Steelers before contract talks went so far south that he left town. In five seasons, Bell averaged 4.3 yards per carry with 5,336 rushing yards and 35 rushing touchdowns. He was a dual-threat leading running back and had 312 receptions for 2,660 yards and seven touchdowns in the same span. When the Steelers made the playoffs in 2016 and 2017, Bell averaged 5.2 yards per carry over four games with 424 yards and three rushing touchdowns. In the air, he had 13 receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown as well.

While that’s great, Bell hasn’t played for the Steelers in six seasons and didn’t play at all last season. How much juice could he still have in the tank? For one, Bell had just 39 carries for 101 yards and two touchdowns in eight games during the 2021 season while catching the ball five times for 30 yards and a touchdown. In fact, since leaving Pittsburgh, his impact in the running game has diminished significantly. However, considering he didn’t play last season, it’s entirely possible he’s fresh.

Now, part of the reason Bell didn’t play last season was his desire to start a boxing career. He appeared in three fights, the first an exhibition match against former NFL running back Adrian Peterson which Bell won with a fifth-round knockout. He lost his first professional fight to Uriah Hall, a former UFC fighter, before picking up his first professional victory in April.

Interestingly, Bell believes boxing has actually rejuvenated him rather than exhausted him.

“You should wake up full of energy, energized every day. That’s how I am. I’m not going to lie, I think boxing has really helped me. Just in the sense of having my body Right now I walk around like 210 [pounds]. I would be so flamboyant if I were to hit the pitch right now… I just haven’t really thought about playing football.

“I still have so much juice. I might even, I don’t know, we’ll see what I do with Pittsburgh or something. I might just come back for a pre-season game or something, just to show people I’ve got some juice…I’m running 4.4 right now.

So why hasn’t Bell tried to make a comeback before now? He’s only 31 and has missed two seasons for reasons other than injury. He played 96 games in total in eight seasons. If he really is as healthy and energetic as he says he is, why couldn’t he be a ball-catching deep option? The reason he didn’t attempt to return to the NFL, Bell said, is that his focus was simply elsewhere.

“I didn’t really think about it,” Bell said. “I’ve boxed, I’ve fought, but it’s like now we’re talking about football. I think if I go to Miami and start training a bit, maybe I’ll just have to get into an OTA and let me get my little football skills back because physically it’s the best I’ve ever felt.

So whether Bell is attempting a comeback or just wants to formalize his retirement, he still has a lot of love for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Revealing and entertaining, be sure to check out the full interview between Bell and the Steel Here podcast below.

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