Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell was the first player in the league to be disciplined for substance abuse in conjunction with a DUI under the newly revamped personal conduct policy, which was revised during the 2014 season in light of the controversy stemming from the league’s handling of Ray Rice’s suspension.
Despite the fact that Bell’s infraction occurred prior to the new rules being in effect, the policy became retroactive, and when his penalty was finally announced, it turned out to be a three-game suspension, which was a more severe discipline than most anticipated. Bell will also be docked a fourth game check.
Bell immediately appealed his suspension, but he acknowledges that he will accept whatever the punishment turns out to be upon appeal. He has seemingly done everything right since that August night indiscretion.
While he hopes that that will factor in helping him have his suspension reduced, he has also committed himself more than ever to football, recently telling ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he has given up marijuana in favor of his NFL career, indicating that it would never be an obstacle in his professional career again.
It goes beyond football for Bell, however, as he told Anderson that the entire ordeal was an “embarrassment”, not only on a personal level, but also for his friends, family, and teammates. He wants to set a better example for them, and says that he has learned from the experience. Here is the choice quote on that matter:
“Marijuana is not an important thing for me. 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”.
Everybody makes mistakes in their lives, but not everybody demonstrates the ability to learn from them. On the surface, it certainly appears that Bell has done so, and has decided not to put his professional life at risk again for a recreational hobby.
Bell, who was 22 at the time, may or may not have been influenced by his then-teammate, LeGarrette Blount, who was also suspended by the league for one game relating to the same incident that got the Steelers ball carrier in trouble. But the bottom line is that Bell is his own man, making his own decisions.
It sounds like he has grown up from his incident last year, following which he had a breakout season in which he broke the Steelers’ single-season yards from scrimmage record. Seeing the damage that he has caused his team by forcing them to play three games without him was probably part of that wakeup call.
Though his 2015 debut will be delayed, he will once again get the opportunity to show how much his career means to him on the field. He became an integral part of a potentially championship-caliber offense last season, and he will look to help take them to the next level this year.