While Le'Veon Bell's NFL career is most certainly over, the running back offered several admissions during an appearance in a podcast that published during the weekend.
Among them: Bell admitted that he smoked marijuana before games, that he regretted the way his tenure ended with the Pittsburgh Steelers – where he starred for five seasons – and blasted former New York Jets head coach Adam Gase, for whom he played only one season.
Bell made the comments on the "Steel Here" podcast that published Friday.
A second-round selection in the 2013 NFL draft for the Steelers, Bell recorded two All-Pro seasons and three Pro Bowl selections in Pittsburgh – the only ones of his career. Bell missed the entire 2018 season as he sat out during a contract dispute with Pittsburgh because he was seeking more guaranteed money.
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Bell then latched on with the Jets for the 2019 season, though the relationship there soured as the team released him midway through the following season. He has since spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers but did not play last season.
Le'Veon Bell opens up about marijuana use during NFL playing career
"Looking back on this, that's what I did," Bell said. "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, two (touchdowns)."
— STEELHERE (@_STEELHERE) May 26, 2023
When he was 23, Bell and then-Steelers teammate LeGarrette Blount were arrested Aug. 20, 2015 after police said they found about three-fourths of an ounce of marijuana in Bell's car during a traffic stop. He was suspended two games for the matter.
Le'Veon Bell trashes former Jets coach Adam Gase
From the moment Bell arrived in New York, it became clear that his previous levels of production in Pittsburgh would not be happening. The Jets struggled to find ways to get Bell the ball, and the offensive system run by then-coach Adam Gase did not emphasize running backs as Bell's previous offenses.
"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 …
"Bro, the team wasn't that great, don't get me wrong, but I feel like if Coach (Steelers coach Mike) Tomlin was coaching that team, we win nine games at least. It's to the point where (then-Jets quarterback) Sam Darnold don't even know like the actual line's protections because he's so confused about our offense because the coach is confusing him."
Bell also said that the playcalling under Gase was "terrible."
Le'Veon Bell says he wants to retire with Steelers, regrets departure from team
Bell, after he led the league in carries and touches in the 2017 season, was seeking a contract with long-term stability and plenty of guaranteed money. The Steelers used the franchise tag on Bell, but could not complete a long-term deal, before a July 16 deadline, which led to his sitting out the 2018 season.
"I didn't want to leave Pittsburgh, because at the end of the day, that's where I was at," Bell said. "That's where I got drafted. Especially after going to different teams and seeing how it is, it's like when the team has their guy, you're their guy. I was Pittsburgh's guy.
"Now I see this thing like, bro, it was a little petty. … The guarantee stuff in the first time, I’m thinking: 'Damn, could I really have just ate (the money)? Yeah, I probably could’ve."
Bell said that he would like to retire with the Steelers, but he would like the chance to "get a couple of carries in the preseason so I can show y'all" that he can still play.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Le'Veon Bell regrets Steelers ending, admits smoking weed before games