Five years ago, Le'Veon Bell was an All-Pro running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now 30, Bell is out of football and is putting his energy into his new career as a professional boxer. After winning his first bout against fellow former NFL running back Adrian Peterson last month, Bell is preparing for his upcoming fight against longtime UFC fighter Uriah "Prime Time" Hall.
Bell appears happy in his new profession. He said that there is a "one-percent" chance that he will play football again after playing for four different teams during the previous two seasons.
"It would have to be playoffs," Bell recently told NFL.com. "And then like I got a starting job and it's for a contending team – I have a chance to win a Super Bowl. That'd literally be the only chance."
Bell technically played for a Super Bowl in 2020, although he did not receive a snap during the Chiefs' Super Bowl loss to the Buccaneers. The Chiefs and Buccaneers were two of the teams Bell played for during the 2020 and '21 seasons. Bell played in five games for the Ravens in 2021 and spent the entire 2019 season with the Jets after signing a four-year, $52.5 million contract with New York during the offseason. Bell received a little over half of that contract before he was released during the 2020 season.
A 2013 second-round pick out of Michigan State, Bell quickly established himself as a versatile playmaker in Pittsburgh. He earned his first All-Pro nod in 2014 while helping the Steelers return to the playoffs after a two-year hiatus. In 2016, after missing most of the 2015 season with a knee injury, Bell won team MVP honors for a second time after leading the Steelers to within a game of the Super Bowl. That season, Bell set franchise single-game regular-season and postseason rushing records.
Le’Veon Bell’s single best performance of his career came against the #Bills when he totaled a career high 298 yards and 3 TDs.❄️— Brandon Carr (@bcarr_13) August 19, 2022
Nothing flashy, but Bell showed why he was one of the #NFL’s best workhorse running backs during that time.
🎥: @NFL#NFL | #Steelers | #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/NwbhZkLYhM
Bell held out during the 2017 training camp over a contract dispute. He was an All-Pro again that season as the Steelers finished the season with a 13-3 record. The Steelers were upset in the playoffs, however, marking the end of the "Killer B" era in Pittsburgh. Bell sat out the following season after he and the Steelers once again failed to come to terms on a long-term contract.
"Obviously, I wish things would've played out differently in 2018," Bell recently said on social media. "Like if I legit had a time machine to go back to 2018, that would be soo litttt for soo many reasons but I [can't] … all I can do, all WE can do is keep moving forward with life… & life has taught me a lot of valuable lessons & formed me into the person I am today."
Bell has moved on with his life, even if he hasn't totally closed the door on a future return to the NFL. The Columbus, Ohio, native is hoping to do something in boxing that he -- to this point -- was not able to achieve during his pro football career.
"I want to be champion," Bell said, "and show people that, I made first-team All-Pro in the NFL and I changed over sports to be the best pro that I am. At one point I was the best, I reached the highest peak and [now], it's boxing."