PITTSBURGH — Former Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell says he smoked marijuana before playing a few NFL games during his career.
“That’s what I did,” Bell narrated the Barstool Sports podcast Steel Here which was released on Friday. “When I played football I smoked, brother. Even before the games I was smoking and going out and running 150 (yards) and two (touchdowns).”
Jersey Jerry, who co-hosts the podcast with Kevin Adams, then asked, “In the NFL?”
“Yes,” said Bell, 31, who has not played in the league since the 2021 season.
Bell was suspended twice for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy while playing for the Steelers. He began his pro career in Pittsburgh in 2013 and has become one of the most dynamic and productive players in the league. Bell was selected once to the All-Pro and three times to the Pro Bowl for being a dual threat from the Steelers’ backfield.
He was forced to sit out the 2018 season over a contract dispute after refusing to sign the franchise name Pittsburgh had used for him for the second year in a row. Bell told the podcast that the Steelers only wanted to guarantee his first year of a potential renewal, but he wanted more than that.
“Yeah, it was a bit petty, the little guarantee stuff,” Bell said. “I’m like, damn, could I have really just eaten it? Yes, I probably could have done that. I probably really could have eaten it.”
Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 million, $35 million guaranteed contract with the New York Jets the following offseason.
But his tenure with the Jets was disappointing, lasting less than two years before he was fired midway through the 2020 season. The running back slammed then-New York coach Adam Gase on the podcast and said he was a “terrible” play caller.
“Bro, we come to New York and you can tell straight away that head coaches make a big difference,” Bell said. “As soon as I arrive in New York, I experience it like the first week.”
Bell said then-quarterback Sam Darnold had trouble knowing offensive line protections “because he’s so confused about our offense because the coach confuses him.”
The Jets went 7-9 in Gase’s first season in 2019 and 2-14 the next season, leading to the coach’s sacking.
“Bro, the team wasn’t great, don’t get me wrong,” Bell said. “But I feel like if (Steelers) coach (Mike) Tomlin coached this team, we would win at least nine games.”
Bell had brief stints with Kansas City in 2020 and Baltimore and Tampa Bay in 2021 after leaving the Jets. During his career, he has rushed for 6,554 yards and 42 touchdowns, caught 399 passes for 3,289 yards and scored nine.
Although he didn’t play last season and is trying to pursue a professional boxing career, Bell said he hasn’t officially retired from football just yet. He told the podcast that he’d love to retire with the Steelers but would like a chance to get a few appearances in the preseason “so I can show you all” he can still play.