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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Le’Veon Bell has finally opened up about his true feelings surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In an exclusive interview with Sports Illustrated, Bell went into the details surrounding the 2018 season holdout.
Bell cites his treatment by management and fellow teammates as one of the reasons he was not happy in Pittsburgh. He claims he feels accepted with the New York Jets, and that players and coaches all treat each other similar.
“When I first got to Pittsburgh, I didn’t get that feeling,” Bell said. “I’m not saying they greeted me wrong or indifferent, but its like, when I got to New York with the Jets, I felt welcomed. I felt it. I didn’t feel in Pittsburgh that we are even,” Bell said. “I don’t feel like we are even, I never felt that. At the time that’s all I knew…I just thought that’s how it’s supposed to be. I was never in a different situation.”
Bell says that his relationship with Ben Roethlisberger is one of the factors he wanted out of Pittsburgh.
“Ben is Ben, you know he is the quarterback. At the time I am thinking that is how it’s supposed to be. Quarterbacks are leaders, it is what it is, but you are still a teammate at the end of the day. You’re not Kevin Colbert. You’re not Mr. Rooney.”
Bell claims the Steelers did not support his off the field activities like his rap career and that was yet another reason he was not happy with the situation. He described it as not being treated like you are “human.”
“I’m an NFL athlete, but I am a human being. I still play video games, I still make music, it’s like they don’t want to allow you to be yourself. If you are a Steeler, you’re literally supposed to be playing football 24/7. It’s not realistic.”
Bell chalked it up to a bad fit for him and his interests.
“It’s not a bad place to be…I just wasn’t happy…it’s just not my place.”
Bell admitted that he was very close to signing a long contract with the Steelers in the 2018 offseason but decided not to because he knew it wasn’t going to make him happy. He then was fully intending on showing up during the season to play, but as criticism from teammates streamed in as the weeks rolled on, he decided it wasn’t worth it. He claims he wanted to come back if he felt he was wanted back.
“Originally, I just thought I wasn’t going to come week one,” Bell said. “That was my original goal, original plan in my head.”
Bell says he is happy now and is more happy than he has been in a long time after signing with the Jets.