Over the last hour, the NFL pulled off perhaps the most impressive news dump. As they announced they were upholding the four-game suspension of legendary quarterback Tom Brady, they slipped in another story about Steeler’s running back Le’Veon Bell.
The third-year running back was charged with a DUI and marijuana possession in August of last year. The NFL suspended Bell for three games, and Bell appealed. The league finally ruled on Bell’s appeal today, reducing the suspension from three games to two. Bell’s attorneys argued that he was being suspended based on the new drug policy, when the infraction occurred during the old one.
The suspension ensures that Bell will miss opening night in New England and week 2 against San Francisco. Also absent week 1 will be Tom Brady, as it stands, making for an interesting opening night of the NFL season.
Bell will be a central part of what could be the best offense in the NFL this season. The running back burst onto the scene last year, amassing 1361 yards on the ground and another 854 as a receiver. Bell, along with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receivers Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, and tight end Heath Miller, make up perhaps the most impressive band of skill position players in the league.
With Bell’s suspension looming, the Steelers signed D’Angelo Williams to add depth to their backfield. Thank goodness the team had more time to come up with a backup plan this year, as they failed miserably last year. Le’Veon Bell was injured in the final regular season game a year ago, and that forced him to miss Pittsburgh’s playoff game against the Ravens. The Steelers panicked and signed free agent running back Ben Tate during the week leading up to the game. Tate combined with Josh Harris and Dri Archer to form a far from formidable Steelers backfield, and those three combined for a measly 43 yards on just 15 carries.
The St. Louis Rams are the big losers in this, as they face off against the Steelers in week 3. Bell goes into the season as arguably the best running back in the NFL, both as a runner and as a receiver out of the backfield.