Former Pittsburgh Steeler Le’Veon Bell said in a recent podcast that he’d score touchdowns and win games—even if he smoked pot beforehand.
Bell, who is now a free agent, had short runs with the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers after leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers—the place he truly calls home in his professional football career. CBS News reports that Bell spilled the details in a recent podcast about how often he’d smoke, even before the game.
During Bell’s run with the Steelers from 2013 to 2017, he chalked up 5,336 rushing yards, 2,660 receiving yards, and averaged 5.2 yards per touchdown. Bell also earned two All-Pro selections and had three 1,000-yard rushing seasons. In 2015 and 2016 he was voted as one of the NFL Top 100. He apparently rushed many of those touchdowns stoned.
On Episode 30 of the “Steel Here” podcast, Bell explained how he smoked pot before some of his best performances for the Steelers.
“Looking back, that’s what I did,” Bell said. “When I was playing football, I smoked. Even before the games, I’d smoke and I’d go out there and run for 150, two (touchdowns).”
In 2019, Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 million deal with the New York Jets, which didn’t last too long. Bell hasn’t played professional football since the 2021 season, but has no plans to retire from the league anytime soon. A contract dispute led to his departure with the Steelers, but he hopes to eventually retire with them.
“It literally was the guarantee. They weren’t budging off of it and I wasn’t budging off of it. I didn’t want to leave Pittsburgh,” Bell said. “At the end of the day, that’s where I was at. That’s where I got drafted at. Especially after going to different teams and seeing how it is, when a team has their guy, you’re their guy. I was Pittsburgh’s guy.”
In 2021, the National Football League (NFL) made significant changes to its guidelines, so now players are only required to drug test for cannabis just once at the beginning of training camp.
“I’m trying to retire with Pittsburgh,” Bell said. “But before I do that, I might be like, ‘Hey, let me get a couple carries in the preseason so I can show you all something.’”
The NFL and Pot Policy
The NFL is easing up on cannabis policies like most other major sport leagues. Last year, the NFL took another step forward by awarding funds to two cannabis research initiatives focused on the effectiveness of cannabis as a treatment for pain management.
The NFL is currently exploring cannabis-based medicine for the treatment of pain, given that the alternative is usually opioids. The NFL announced in a press release on February 1, 2022 that it would be presenting $1 million to two different researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and University of Regina (UR), which is located in Canada. Both research groups will be focusing on how cannabinoids can aid in general pain management, with a few other goal studies as well.
The NFL-NFLPA Joint Pain Management Committee (PMC) called for research proposals in June 2021, asking for researchers to assist with PMC’s knowledge about pain management and athletic performance.” The committee received a total of 106 submissions, which was narrowed down to 10 finalists by the NFL Research and Innovation Committee.
In the meantime, players are likely smoking. It mirrors what has been said about other major sports leagues such as the National Basketball Association (NBA). (Jay Williams estimated that 80% of NBA players smoke weed; Al Harrington guesses the number is a bit higher.)