Le’Veon Bell quickly reacted to his new team’s matchup against his old team as soon it was announced that the Jets would host the Steelers in Week 16. Vince Williams, Pittsburgh’s starting inside linebacker, has responded to Bell’s message with one of his own.
Bell isn’t the most popular person in Pittsburgh after sitting out the entire 2018 season, then signing a longterm deal with the New York Jets earlier this offseason. Bell, voted twice by his former teammates as the Steelers’ team MVP during his time in Pittsburgh, will play against the Steelers when the Jets host Pittsburgh during the 2019 regular season.
While he upset many of his teammates after deciding not to show up last season, Bell and his former teammates have appeared to have patched things up. Bell and Cam Heyward shared pleasantries on Twitter last week after Bell posted a video of himself making a big play in Madden ’19.
Earlier in the week, Bell shared a recent message sent to him by the man that replaced him in Pittsburgh, James Conner. In light of Antonio Brown’s public criticism of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Conner felt that he needed to show his appreciation for Brown and his unwavering support. Bell, according to Conner, sent Conner encouraging messages throughout the 2018 season.
While Bell’s career has taken him to a new city, the 27-year-old running back provided plenty of memories during the first four years of his NFL career. After struggling during his first two NFL games, Bell’s 93-yard rushing performance helped the Steelers edge the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4 of the 2013 season to give Pittsburgh their first victory of the season. Bell’s solid play down the stretch helped Pittsburgh finish the year with an 8-8 record after a 2-6 start. That season, Bell broke Franco Harris’ 41-year-old record for the most yards from scrimmage by a Steelers’ rookie.
Bell’s breakout season took place in 2014, as the former Michigan State standout rushed for 1,361 yards and eight scores while also catching 83 passes for 854 yards and three touchdowns. Bell’s performance that season earned him his first All-Pro selection as well as his first team MVP award. He also helped Pittsburgh make the playoffs after a two-year absence while winning their first division championship since 2010.
After an injury wiped out most of his 2015 campaign, Bell enjoyed his best NFL season in 2016. Despite missing four games, Bell still racked up 1,884 all-purpose yards while rushing for a franchise record 236 yards and three scores in a late season victory in Buffalo over the Bills. Bell spearheaded Pittsburgh’s nine-game winning streak that included rushing performances of 167 and 170 yards (the later the most rushing yards by a Steeler in a playoff game) in the team’s postseason victories over the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. But for the third consecutive season, Bell’s season would end with an injury, as he was forced to leave Pittsburgh’s AFC title game loss to New England in the second quarter.
Bell enjoyed another strong season in 2017, amassing 1,944 all-purpose yards in 15 regular season games. After scoring two touchdowns in Pittsburgh’s playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bell embarked on a tumultuous offseason with regard to his contract situation. While both sides tried, Bell and the Steelers were unable to come to terms on a longterm contract, essentially marking the end of Bell’s time with the organization.
While Bell’s legacy with the Steelers isn’t what it once was, it appears that his relationship with his former teammates has been repaired, as both sides are apparently choosing to remember the good times during their four seasons together.