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Le'veon Bell's rise: Why he is wired for monster Jets year

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Le’Veon Bell’s rise: Why he is wired for monster Jets year

July 22, 2019 | 6:33pm | Updated 

 
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Le'Veon Bell
Le'Veon BellBill Kostroun

Le’Veon Bell’s determination showed itself at an early age.

Bell’s mother, Lisa, remembers him at 5 years old climbing up a chair to the kitchen counter to the refrigerator to get a cookie she told him he couldn’t have before dinner.

“Whatever he set his mind to, that’s what he did,” Lisa said in an interview last week. “He was a determined kid, a determined young man and now a determined man.”

That determination helped him go from a lightly recruited high school player to an All-American at Michigan State and an All-Pro running back in the NFL. It is also that determination that kept him off the field last year during a contract standoff with the Steelers when Bell was resolved to get the type of contract he deserved.

“At first, it was difficult,” said Lisa, who raised Bell as a single mother. “He played football and never missed a season from the age of 4 to the age of 26. It was different. He said, ‘Mom, I trust you with everything you tell me.’ He said, ‘This is football and you have to trust me. It’s not about just football. It’s about the business.’”

That business gamble resulted in him receiving a four-year, $52.5 million contract from the Jets. Some criticized his move, saying he could have gotten more money if he had taken the offer the Steelers made him, but Bell pointed to the $25 million fully guaranteed the Jets ponied up and chalked it up as a win.

Now the business is behind him and Bell is a critical piece of the 2019 Jets as they open training camp Wednesday. The Jets are counting on him helping second-year quarterback Sam Darnold and breathing life into their offense.


This is a look back at where Bell came from as the Jets and their fans dream about what his future in green and white could look like.

“He’s ready, anxious I would say,” said Clarence Bell Jr., Le’Veon’s uncle. “I think he’s going to have the best year he’s ever had. He missed the game.”

Clarence Bell began teaching his nephew that game when Le’Veon was just 4 at their home in Columbus, Ohio. The elder Bell would take his son Justin and Le’Veon into the backyard and show them how to block and run.

“I think he’s going to have the best year he’s ever had. He missed the game.”

“When he was 5 years old, he told me he was going to the NFL,” Clarence said. “He always said that.”

Soon, he was coaching them on the neighborhood team — the Linden Eagles. Le’Veon was a 4-year-old facing kids that were 6, 7 and 9 years old. He mostly just sat on the sideline.

“He just picked grass,” Clarence said with a chuckle.

The next year Le’Veon played guard because Clarence wanted him to get used to contact. By the age of 7, Bell was the team’s lead running back.

“That’s when I knew he was special because of the way he competed with the kids that were more mature than he was,” Clarence said.

Clarence did not just work the kids on the practice and game field. He would take Le’Veon and Justin home after games to watch the film of the game … twice. The first time was so they could cheer themselves on and the second time was to actually analyze and break down the tape.

Lisa Bell credits another family member with helping Le’Veon develop his trademark elusiveness. When Le’Veon was 10, the family got a 4-month-old dog named Zee from the local animal shelter.

“That was Le’Veon’s buddy, his best friend,” Lisa said. “There were times when I wouldn’t let [Le’Veon] play in the street. He would play with Zee. He would try his best to get Zee and this dog would put moves on him or Zee would try to get him. It was just amazing. I believe Zee taught him, especially the running style if you watch him skip through certain holes and slip tackles. He picked that up from Zee.”

Enlarge Image

As for the stop-and-start deliberate running that made Bell a star with the Steelers, Lisa said that came from Clarence.

“The patience comes from my brother,” Lisa said. “I remember my brother always telling him, ‘You need to wait for your blockers.’ [Clarence] would always be on him about it as a little kid.”

Young Le’Veon’s skill on the football field became evident at an early age and so did his competitive fire.

“He was competitive in everything he did — everything,” Lisa said.

Clarence remembers playing the “Madden” video game with Le’Veon and being able to beat him, which led to a tantrum or two.

“I would always beat him. He would get so mad,” Clarence said. “He would cry and say, ‘I’m going to call my mom.’ He never wanted to lose. He’s still like that.”

Lisa recalled an instance when as an eighth grader, Le’Veon was playing tennis against another young boy. Le’Veon had just started playing tennis and his opponent that day was much more experienced. Still, Le’Veon was able to hang tough and the match was close.

On match point, the boy put a spin on his serve and aced Le’Veon to win the match.

“He had a fit,” Lisa said. “He was yelling at the kid, ‘Wait, wait.’ He walked over and said, ‘You have to show me how you did that.’ ”

The boy and his father spent the next hour showing Le’Veon how to put spin on his serves.

“He mastered it,” Lisa said.

A few days later, Le’Veon won the rematch, using spin on his serve.

“He was bound and determined,” Lisa said. “It was amazing. That’s him. He doesn’t like to lose.”


Bell brought his determination and athletic gifts to Groveport Madison High School. He became a standout running back and linebacker for the Cruisers, but colleges barely noticed.

Bell spent hours scouring online recruiting lists to see him being given two stars. He would point to running backs in the top 10 of the rankings and tell his mother he was better than those players.

Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan and Marshall were the only schools to offer him scholarships by the end of his senior season in 2009, when he rushed for 1,333 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Nearby Ohio State showed some interest in him as a safety, but never made him a scholarship offer. Other schools looked at Bell as a linebacker. Bell was determined to play running back.

“I just wanted him to have a scholarship,” Lisa said. “So, if they offered him as a linebacker, I would say, ‘Take it, it’s a free education.’ He’d be like, ‘Nope. I’m not playing linebacker. I’m a running back.’ ”

Enlarge Image  

Just after Thanksgiving of his senior year, Michigan State assistant coach Dan Enos, who was watching another Spartan recruit, spotted Bell during a basketball game. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio called the principal at Groveport Madison, Donis Toler Jr. Dantonio had played for Toler’s father in high school and recruited Toler Jr. to play at Ohio State.

“I just said, ‘Coach, I’m going to be blunt honest with you. You asked me if I think he can play for you. Not only can he play for you, he’ll start his freshman year,’ ” Toler recalled this week.

There was one warning Toler gave Dantonio.

“I said he’ll start for you, but it’s going to be contingent on his work ethic,” Toler said. “The kid loves football, but he needs to work a little harder. On game day he’s an A-plus. The problem is when it’s not game day, in the offseason and honing your craft.”

A scholarship offer came to Bell a few weeks later and he enrolled early at Michigan State a month later.

The work ethic came and Bell became a star at Michigan State. He didn’t start as a freshman, but burst onto the scene and rushed for 141 yards in his first game and 114 two weeks later against Notre Dame. As a sophomore, he started the final six games of the season and totaled 1,215 yards from scrimmage. As a junior, he blossomed into an All-American candidate, rushing for 1,793 yards and totaling 1,960 yards from scrimmage.

The Steelers took him in the second round of the 2013 draft. In Pittsburgh, Bell averaged 128.9 yards from scrimmage per regular-season game, more than any other back in NFL history in his first five seasons.

Now, he is ready for the next chapter with the Jets. Those who know Bell best believe Jets fans are going to see a monster season from the running back.

“He’s going to be driven to prove all those critics wrong,” Toler said. “He might not care what they said, but internally he’s going to be like, ‘Say what you want to say, but don’t come back to me afterward and change your tune.’ He’s going to be out to prove everybody wrong in a major way.”

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14 minutes ago, T0mShane said:

His uncle and his mom said he chased the family dog around as a kid so he’s going to have a big year in 2019-2020. This is some hard hitting reporting, fokls 

Yeah, but apparently this is “Feel good Monday” here, so let’s just roll with it. OK slugger?

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...shortly after scooting the chair to the refrigerator to nab that cookie, it was stolen by some five year old girls he had invited over to play. 

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I think he will have a down year in rush yards but instead have a ton of catches and better than average receiving yards. He will be the #1 focus of defenses once the game starts. Hopefully, this will be to the advantage of Sam and the other offensive weapons on this team. I think you will see defenses key on Bell and Robby, leaving the middle of the field wide open for Crowder, Enunwa and Herndon. Sam just has to make the right read and deliver the ball. O-line will need to give him enough time to do that. 

Once the middle of the field starts getting exploited the defense will be forced to leave Bell one on one with a LB- that's where he will get most of his catches. 

JMHO. 

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14 hours ago, T0mShane said:

His uncle and his mom said he chased the family dog around as a kid so he’s going to have a big year in 2019-2020. This is some hard hitting reporting, fokls 

Right, nowhere near as harding hitting as him filming a video of himself saying things about haters.  

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1 hour ago, JiF said:

Right, nowhere near as harding hitting as him filming a video of himself saying things about haters.  

Can anyone from the easternmost destitute section of Florida and/or has a traumatic brain injury explain this logic to me thx 

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3 minutes ago, T0mShane said:

Can anyone from the easternmost destitute section of Florida and/or has a traumatic brain injury explain this logic to me thx 

So trivial to comprehend...

https://forums.jetnation.com/topic/145707-it-is-july-21st-and-leveon-bell-is-already-sick-of-you-haters/

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16 hours ago, joewilly12 said:

Le’Veon Bell’s rise: Why he is wired for monster Jets year

July 22, 2019 | 6:33pm | Updated 

 
Enlarge Image
Le'Veon Bell
Le'Veon BellBill Kostroun

Le’Veon Bell’s determination showed itself at an early age.

Bell’s mother, Lisa, remembers him at 5 years old climbing up a chair to the kitchen counter to the refrigerator to get a cookie she told him he couldn’t have before dinner.

“Whatever he set his mind to, that’s what he did,” Lisa said in an interview last week. “He was a determined kid, a determined young man and now a determined man.”

That determination helped him go from a lightly recruited high school player to an All-American at Michigan State and an All-Pro running back in the NFL. It is also that determination that kept him off the field last year during a contract standoff with the Steelers when Bell was resolved to get the type of contract he deserved.

“At first, it was difficult,” said Lisa, who raised Bell as a single mother. “He played football and never missed a season from the age of 4 to the age of 26. It was different. He said, ‘Mom, I trust you with everything you tell me.’ He said, ‘This is football and you have to trust me. It’s not about just football. It’s about the business.’”

That business gamble resulted in him receiving a four-year, $52.5 million contract from the Jets. Some criticized his move, saying he could have gotten more money if he had taken the offer the Steelers made him, but Bell pointed to the $25 million fully guaranteed the Jets ponied up and chalked it up as a win.

Now the business is behind him and Bell is a critical piece of the 2019 Jets as they open training camp Wednesday. The Jets are counting on him helping second-year quarterback Sam Darnold and breathing life into their offense.


This is a look back at where Bell came from as the Jets and their fans dream about what his future in green and white could look like.

“He’s ready, anxious I would say,” said Clarence Bell Jr., Le’Veon’s uncle. “I think he’s going to have the best year he’s ever had. He missed the game.”

Clarence Bell began teaching his nephew that game when Le’Veon was just 4 at their home in Columbus, Ohio. The elder Bell would take his son Justin and Le’Veon into the backyard and show them how to block and run.

“I think he’s going to have the best year he’s ever had. He missed the game.”

“When he was 5 years old, he told me he was going to the NFL,” Clarence said. “He always said that.”

Soon, he was coaching them on the neighborhood team — the Linden Eagles. Le’Veon was a 4-year-old facing kids that were 6, 7 and 9 years old. He mostly just sat on the sideline.

“He just picked grass,” Clarence said with a chuckle.

The next year Le’Veon played guard because Clarence wanted him to get used to contact. By the age of 7, Bell was the team’s lead running back.

“That’s when I knew he was special because of the way he competed with the kids that were more mature than he was,” Clarence said.

Clarence did not just work the kids on the practice and game field. He would take Le’Veon and Justin home after games to watch the film of the game … twice. The first time was so they could cheer themselves on and the second time was to actually analyze and break down the tape.

Lisa Bell credits another family member with helping Le’Veon develop his trademark elusiveness. When Le’Veon was 10, the family got a 4-month-old dog named Zee from the local animal shelter.

“That was Le’Veon’s buddy, his best friend,” Lisa said. “There were times when I wouldn’t let [Le’Veon] play in the street. He would play with Zee. He would try his best to get Zee and this dog would put moves on him or Zee would try to get him. It was just amazing. I believe Zee taught him, especially the running style if you watch him skip through certain holes and slip tackles. He picked that up from Zee.”

Enlarge Image

As for the stop-and-start deliberate running that made Bell a star with the Steelers, Lisa said that came from Clarence.

“The patience comes from my brother,” Lisa said. “I remember my brother always telling him, ‘You need to wait for your blockers.’ [Clarence] would always be on him about it as a little kid.”

Young Le’Veon’s skill on the football field became evident at an early age and so did his competitive fire.

“He was competitive in everything he did — everything,” Lisa said.

Clarence remembers playing the “Madden” video game with Le’Veon and being able to beat him, which led to a tantrum or two.

“I would always beat him. He would get so mad,” Clarence said. “He would cry and say, ‘I’m going to call my mom.’ He never wanted to lose. He’s still like that.”

Lisa recalled an instance when as an eighth grader, Le’Veon was playing tennis against another young boy. Le’Veon had just started playing tennis and his opponent that day was much more experienced. Still, Le’Veon was able to hang tough and the match was close.

On match point, the boy put a spin on his serve and aced Le’Veon to win the match.

“He had a fit,” Lisa said. “He was yelling at the kid, ‘Wait, wait.’ He walked over and said, ‘You have to show me how you did that.’ ”

The boy and his father spent the next hour showing Le’Veon how to put spin on his serves.

“He mastered it,” Lisa said.

A few days later, Le’Veon won the rematch, using spin on his serve.

“He was bound and determined,” Lisa said. “It was amazing. That’s him. He doesn’t like to lose.”


Bell brought his determination and athletic gifts to Groveport Madison High School. He became a standout running back and linebacker for the Cruisers, but colleges barely noticed.

Bell spent hours scouring online recruiting lists to see him being given two stars. He would point to running backs in the top 10 of the rankings and tell his mother he was better than those players.

Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan and Marshall were the only schools to offer him scholarships by the end of his senior season in 2009, when he rushed for 1,333 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Nearby Ohio State showed some interest in him as a safety, but never made him a scholarship offer. Other schools looked at Bell as a linebacker. Bell was determined to play running back.

“I just wanted him to have a scholarship,” Lisa said. “So, if they offered him as a linebacker, I would say, ‘Take it, it’s a free education.’ He’d be like, ‘Nope. I’m not playing linebacker. I’m a running back.’ ”

Enlarge Image  

Just after Thanksgiving of his senior year, Michigan State assistant coach Dan Enos, who was watching another Spartan recruit, spotted Bell during a basketball game. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio called the principal at Groveport Madison, Donis Toler Jr. Dantonio had played for Toler’s father in high school and recruited Toler Jr. to play at Ohio State.

“I just said, ‘Coach, I’m going to be blunt honest with you. You asked me if I think he can play for you. Not only can he play for you, he’ll start his freshman year,’ ” Toler recalled this week.

There was one warning Toler gave Dantonio.

“I said he’ll start for you, but it’s going to be contingent on his work ethic,” Toler said. “The kid loves football, but he needs to work a little harder. On game day he’s an A-plus. The problem is when it’s not game day, in the offseason and honing your craft.”

A scholarship offer came to Bell a few weeks later and he enrolled early at Michigan State a month later.

The work ethic came and Bell became a star at Michigan State. He didn’t start as a freshman, but burst onto the scene and rushed for 141 yards in his first game and 114 two weeks later against Notre Dame. As a sophomore, he started the final six games of the season and totaled 1,215 yards from scrimmage. As a junior, he blossomed into an All-American candidate, rushing for 1,793 yards and totaling 1,960 yards from scrimmage.

The Steelers took him in the second round of the 2013 draft. In Pittsburgh, Bell averaged 128.9 yards from scrimmage per regular-season game, more than any other back in NFL history in his first five seasons.

Now, he is ready for the next chapter with the Jets. Those who know Bell best believe Jets fans are going to see a monster season from the running back.

“He’s going to be driven to prove all those critics wrong,” Toler said. “He might not care what they said, but internally he’s going to be like, ‘Say what you want to say, but don’t come back to me afterward and change your tune.’ He’s going to be out to prove everybody wrong in a major way.”

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I say my prayers every night for health, family, and Le’veon’s reconstructed knee.

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21 hours ago, T0mShane said:

His uncle and his mom said he chased the family dog around as a kid so he’s going to have a big year in 2019-2020. This is some hard hitting reporting, fokls 

Didn't Rocky chase a chicken around? Rocky lost that fight but he did good!

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Jets fan logic.

Le'veon Bell needs to prove to me he can still play. 

Is there any tape on Le'veon Bell? I only go by what I see on tape. 

Jets sign best available free agent offensive player still in his prime for a very reasonable contract without giving up draft compensation. When has that ever happened? 

Jet fans continue bitch fest. 

Crazy.

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I fully expect him to play with a chip on his shoulder, and that's the way to play football. gonna be a beast

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On 7/23/2019 at 5:05 PM, PepPep said:

I think he will have a down year in rush yards but instead have a ton of catches and better than average receiving yards. He will be the #1 focus of defenses once the game starts. Hopefully, this will be to the advantage of Sam and the other offensive weapons on this team. I think you will see defenses key on Bell and Robby, leaving the middle of the field wide open for Crowder, Enunwa and Herndon. Sam just has to make the right read and deliver the ball. O-line will need to give him enough time to do that. 

Once the middle of the field starts getting exploited the defense will be forced to leave Bell one on one with a LB- that's where he will get most of his catches. 

JMHO. 

WePonz!!

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The key is how Gase will game plan.  Sam had a few great games with no running backs to speak of, without Enunwa and outlets like Crowder and hopefully Wesco.   

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