PITTSBURGH (AP) — Former Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell says he smoked marijuana before playing some NFL games during his career.
“That’s what I did,” Bell told Barstool Sports’ “Steel Here” podcast which was published Friday. “When I was playing football, I smoked, bro. Even before the games, I’d smoke and I’d go out there and run for 150 (yards), two (touchdowns).”
Jersey Jerry, who co-hosts the podcast with Kevin Adams, then asked: “In the NFL?”
“Yeah,” said the 31-year-old Bell, who hasn’t played in the league since the 2021 season.
Bell was suspended twice for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy while he played for the Steelers. He began his professional career in Pittsburgh in 2013 and became one of the league’s most dynamic and productive players. Bell was a one-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl selection as a dual threat out of the Steelers’ backfield.
He sat out the 2018 season because of a contract dispute after refusing to sign the franchise tag Pittsburgh used on him for a second straight year. Bell told the podcast the Steelers wanted to guarantee only his first year of a potential extension, but he wanted more than that.
“Yeah, it was a little petty, the little guarantee stuff,” Bell said. “I’m thinking like, damn, could I have really just ate it? Yeah, I probably could’ve. Probably could’ve really ate it.”
Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract, including $35 million guaranteed, with the New York Jets the following offseason.
But his tenure with the Jets was disappointing, lasting less than two years before he was released midway through the 2020 season. The running back blasted then-New York coach Adam Gase on the podcast, saying he was a “terrible” play caller.
“Bro, we get to New York, and that’s when you instantly find out that head coaches make a huge difference,” Bell said. “As soon as I get to New York, I find that out like the first week.”
Bell said then-quarterback Sam Darnold struggled with knowing the offensive line protections “because he’s so confused about our offense because the coach is confusing him.”
The Jets went 7-9 in Gase’s first season in 2019 and then 2-14 the next season, leading to the coach being fired.
“Bro, the team wasn’t that great, don’t get me wrong,” Bell said. “But I feel like if (Steelers) Coach (Mike) Tomlin was coaching that team, we win nine games, at least.”
Bell had short stints with Kansas City in 2020, and Baltimore and Tampa Bay in 2021 after leaving the Jets. He has run for 6,554 yards and 42 touchdowns in his career, along with catching 399 passes for 3,289 yards and nine scores.
Despite not playing last season and dabbling in a professional boxing career, Bell said he hasn’t yet officially retired from playing football. He told the podcast he’d like to retire with the Steelers, but wants a chance to get a few carries in the preseason “so I can show y’all” he can still play.