Le’Veon Bell’s Legacy with the Pittsburgh Steelers

Bell's Legacy in Pittsburgh

Le’Veon Bell’s legacy with the Pittsburgh Steelers will be a complicated one. He was injured, suspended for substance abuse, held out in 2017, turned down a massive contract, and could sit out the entire 2018 season before he leaves as a free agent next spring. Despite all of that, when Bell was in his peak form he was and still is (if he decides to join the team this year) the best running back in team history in terms of talent. Contribution wise he is nowhere near Franco Harris or Jerome Bettis, but Bell’s ability to catch and run puts him on a whole different level. He’s one of the few players in the league right now who could have 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in a single season before he retires. Only two other backs have done that in NFL history, Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig.

Bell’s running style is also an innovation in the game of football as a whole. His patience and stutter steps behind the line of scrimmage has become a trade mark of his game and inspired a whole new era of rushers to follow suit. Obviously in the grand scheme of the game this is a very small contribution, but none the less Bell has introduced or maybe re-introduced a way to attack defenses as a runner.

Maybe even beyond Bell himself, his legacy is forever tied to the Steelers killer B’s: Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and himself. The three of them have been the best offensive trio in the league for years and have become an iconic record setting bunch. In terms of Steelers history, the three have been a part of the best offensive units in the team’s storied history. Bell himself has 1,229 rushes, 5,336 rushing yards, 35 rushing touchdowns, 312 receptions, 2,660 receiving yards, seven receiving touchdowns, three Pro Bowl selections, and two First Team All-Pro selections in his five seasons with the Steelers so far.

As a Steelers fan I am extremely sad and disappointed that the team couldn’t sign Bell to a long-term deal. But I can’t really blame the team or Bell. The organization needs to leave cap room to improve the struggling defense and of the three b’s Bell is probably the most replaceable, not that it will be easy. And I can’t blame Bell. Even though he turned down a massive contract, he has every right to chase a massive pay day while he can. Running backs don’t last forever after all and neither does football, players need to prepare for their futures and for the futures of their families as well. So yes I am sad, but also grateful for what Bell has done for the Steelers the last few years.

It would be a shame if Bell leaves the Steelers after the 2018 season without a Super Bowl ring to show for all of the victories and records they’ve produced since he joined the team. So it would be nice if he showed up this year for one final push. The team has been close the last few seasons and if the defense is fixed at all, they’ll at least make the conference championship game.

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