The All-Pro vowed to learn from his mistakes and follow a path similar to the one Steelers’ great Jerome Bettis paved on his way to the Hall of Fame.
“I’m glad to finally get it over with, look behind me, know exactly what I have to deal with, and move forward,” Bell said.
Bell’s suspension stems from a DUI arrest and drug charges — cited for marijuana possession — when he and former teammate LeGarrette Blount were pulled over on their way to a team flight for a preseason game in Philadelphia last August.
Bell said the suspension won’t affect his preparation for the upcoming season.
“I just want to go out there, try to get better as a player and grow with the team,” Bell said.
Bettis, the sixth-leading rusher in NFL history, will witness the peak of his career this weekend when he is inducted into the Hall of Fame. Bell’s career is just beginning and the Steelers’ current backfield star believes he can top last year’s record-breaking second season.
“I feel a lot more confident in myself and I feel like a better football player,” Bell said. “Last year, I left some plays on the field and I could’ve had an even better season.”
The 23-year-old Bell idolized Bettis while growing up in Columbus, Ohio.
“Everybody in my family loved the Steelers, so I watched (Bettis) all the time,” Bell said. “When he was on TV, we were watching the game, and he was running, breaking tackles and spinning off people.”
Bell distinctly recalled the Steelers’ run in 2005 to the Super Bowl title, specifically the regular-season game in whiteout conditions when Bettis bowled over Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher en route to a touchdown.
“When it’s cold outside, I don’t wear sleeves because I watched Jerome Bettis,” Bell said. “It could be 12 degrees and snowing and he was out there without sleeves on.”
Bettis has complimented Bell on his ball security, an area Bettis excelled in despite an infamous and rare goal-line fumble late during a playoff game against Indianapolis. Bettis fumbled once in his final 360 regular-season carries, and Bell has lost the ball just once in 534 rushing attempts.
“That’s something he always preaches, to make sure I secure the ball,” Bell said. “He loves the fact that I’m able to do that and I have been doing it really well.”
Bell enjoyed a banner sophomore season, finishing second in the league with 1,361 yards rushing and 2,215 all-purpose yards from scrimmage. Bell, a lynchpin in the Steelers’ No. 2-ranked offense, also set single-season team records for yards from scrimmage and receptions, and yards receiving by a running back.
Bell said this year could be even better.
“When I watch my film from last year, especially at the beginning, I look at myself and I think, ‘What was I doing there?’ ” Bell said. “It’s crazy to think, but a year from now, I’ll be saying the same thing.
“As long as I continue to get better, the sky is the limit.”
How high remains to be seen, but Bettis is already a fan of Bell’s work.
“He doesn’t always get on my back about the things I do bad,” Bell said. “He always tells me about the good things I do, too.
“We have a great relationship off the field and I think it’s going to get stronger as time goes on.”