One-time Pittsburgh Steelers stalwart Le'Veon Bell is giving it one more run with the pigskin before perhaps pursuing pugilism once again.
On Saturday, immediately after Jake Paul knocked out Tyron Woodley in spectacular fashion, Bell took to Twitter with a series of statements directed at Paul, one of which included: “fight me, stop trying to fight people who can’t box.”
On Wednesday, the 29-year-old half-back signed a deal with the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers to provide immediate support to an injury-depleted backfield.
"I'm not even gonna lie – I got to the point where I had thought about kinda calling it quits, just 'cause of the fact that it wasn't working out for me the last couple spots I've been at," said Bell.
"This was like literally the only spot that I felt like made me want to play football and go out there and be excited to play. This was like literally the only place that could have called me and got me to really go play. I was gonna start boxing and focusing on boxing."
Since entering the league in 2013, Bell has tallied 9,754 yards and 50 touchdowns total rushing and receiving over 93 games.
Ever since the star running back sat out the entire 2018 season due to a contract dispute with the Steelers, he’s bounced around the league unproductively with the New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens. He was cut from the Ravens on Nov. 16 after mustering off just 31 carries for 83 yards.
"The last three or four years have definitely been tough," Bell said. "I think it kind of humbled me in a really good way. It made me work so much harder. I know how bad I want it, to help a team win, and to still show people I'm still a great football player. I just think that will and desire and those last couple years of humbleness kinda helped me out."
On the night fellow running back and future Hall of Famer Frank Gore lost a split decision to former NBA star Deron Williams, Bell was directing serious ire toward Woodley on social media.
[Editor’s Note: The following quotes are tweets that have been edited for grammar and style]
“I’m tired of watching [Paul] outbox people who don’t even want to box,” said Bell. “If he wants to be in a boxing match, a real one, he’d fight me – period. Stop fighting small dudes who can’t box. He won’t though because I'm 29. I’m actually his size, have an athletic background, and have been boxing just as long as he has.”
Woodley offered a rebuttal and said: “Because I made one mistake, you think it's sweet? Don't get it f------ up homeboy.”
Bell said: “You made more than just one mistake. He just slept you for that last mistake you made.”
Woodley replied: “So you’re coat-tailing. I get it. See a person courageous enough to go into battle, and use that to try to throw your name in there for a bag without making that walk. That's defined as clout chasing. Surprising from you.”
Bell said: “Any revenue I would make for the fight I would donate to charity – every single dollar! Since people who can’t box like you think I'm in it for money, it’s not about money. It’s about me doing what you couldn’t do. I don’t need to pocket a dime, I already got ‘a bag.’”
Amidst the back and forth, Paul also joined the fray and quipped: “Aye, Tyron Woodley. This clown is saying you can’t box. How about you show him as part of the next MVP event? Tyron would drop you faster than the Ravens.”
For now, Bell is with the Bucs. Perhaps after, he’ll still consider ringing the bell with boxing.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com