Steelers. Ravens. December weather. Does football get any better than this? You can bet Le’Veon Bell is ready to play. It’s conditions Bell thrives in like few backs in the league and talking with reporters, he explained why the cold isn’t going to be a factor.
“I think I play the same when it’s cold and there’s snow outside,” he said via Steelers.com. “I think I play the same way. I think other guys don’t. Other guys play worse when it’s cold. Their mindset is that it’s cold outside. Guys don’t want to tackle, block, or whatever it is, catch the ball. I think my game doesn’t change. I think I play the same as if it was sunny outside.”
Earlier this year, rookie running back Leonard Fournette lamented about having to play in the cold. A good ‘ol southern boy who spent his life in Louisiana got a taste of December weather.
“The little things [are what bother him the most],” Fournette told ESPN’s Michael DiRocco last month. “You take a little hit and it hurts. You’re falling … I wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t cold. I have to get ready, that’s all.”
To his credit, he had an excellent game following those comments, running all over the Cleveland Browns in a 19-7 win. But it’s a mentality that Bell doesn’t have to overcome. It’s one he’s always had.
Bell has always played in bad weather. Born in Ohio, played college ball in Michigan, and the NFL in Pittsburgh, is pretty much the Mecca of freezing temps. So has his fullback, Roosevelt Nix, who grew up in the same town as Bell and played in Ohio throughout college, too.
Statistically, Bell has thrived in December. In his career, he averages no better yards per carry than this month, a whopping 4.5 and 99 yards per game. His 12 rushing touchdowns is also a month-high. He torched Buffalo last December for 236 yards and three scores and in Week 16 against the Ravens, he averaged over six yards a pop and found the end zone once.
Put on your puffy coat and grab your handwarmers. It’s December. Time for Bell to go to work.