Former NFL Running Back Le’Veon Bell Says He Won’t Play Football This Season to ‘Focus On Boxing’

by Bryan Fyalkowski

In a press conference promoting his upcoming boxing exhibition against Adrian Peterson, Le’Veon Bell stated that he is not going to be playing in the NFL this year to focus on boxing. The two former running backs will square off at Arena on July 30.

“Last year, I almost sat out the whole year to try to focus on boxing because I kind of knew that was what I wanted to transition to. This year, I know I’m not going to be playing this year because I want to focus on boxing,” Bell said, via

This definitely has big “you can’t fire me, I quit” energy. For him to claim that he has any say on the future of his football career – rather than the fact that he is so washed up that no NFL team actually wants to sign him – is comedic.

If Bell is actually set to make more money on his exhibition fight and subsequent boxing career – and he very well could be at this point – then that makes total sense. While this is an exhibition in terms of counting towards Bell’s and Peterson’s records, both are treating it very seriously.

“This is, I guess, like my introduction to kind of show what I’ll be doing and how I’ll be going about myself,” Bell said.

“This is something that I definitely can see myself doing going forward as well, just depending on how things kind of play out for me,” the 37-year-old Peterson explained. “So, even after this fight, I will still be on my same routine, waiting for that next opportunity to present itself.”

Le’Veon Bell’s Sudden Fall from Stardom

Now 30 years old, Le’Veon Bell started his professional career with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013. Over the next five seasons, he was one of the best running backs in the league. He started 62 games and accumulated 7,996 all-purpose yards (5,336 rushing and 2,660 receiving), while averaging 5.2 yards per touch.

The Steelers put a franchise tag on him for 2018 and Bell did not like that. He chose to sit out the entire season and then Pittsburgh released him. The running back did turn around and sign a four-year, $52.5 million deal with the New York Jets.

After a solid 2019 season, Bell – and the Jets – struggled to begin 2020 and he requested a trade after five games. New York could not find a trade partner, so they released him to rid the franchise of the headaches he caused.

He spent the remainder of the 2020 season with the Kansas City Chiefs, then split the 2021 campaign with the Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He had 597 all-purpose yards in 19 games over the past two years before pivoting to boxing.