In his first interview since his three-game suspension was handed down last month after being charged with marijuana possession and DUI, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell said Thursday that he had no problems with the length of his NFL punishment, and that he planned on taking whatever other penalties were ultimately handed to him.
"I made a mistake. I'm going to just have to do my time, whatever the final decision may be," Bell told ESPN's Josina Anderson. "Get past it, and get ready for next season and continuing to be the great football player I know I can be."
Bell was suspended April 9 for an incident in August 2014 involving himself and then-teammateLeGarrette Blount. As soon as the suspension was announced, sources indicated Bell appealed the decision.
During his hourlong sit-down with Anderson for an upcoming piece in ESPN The Magazine, Bell said he hoped the December plea deal he reached and the subsequent community service he has completed might help reduce the league's punishment.
In February, he was sentenced to 15 months' probation in a first-offender's program. He was required to abstain from drugs and alcohol, complete any recommended treatment, pay a $100 fee and court costs and complete a safe-driving class.
Bell's attorney, Robert Del Greco, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in February that upon completion of the program, he expected Bell's record to be wiped clean.
"I did everything that they needed me to do and I did it quick," Bell told Anderson. "So eventually that's going to be off my record. Obviously, like I said, I still have to do my time that they gave me, but if [the league] were to look into that and all the community service that I did and the classes that I had to take in eventually getting it off my record, that should be something that maybe they consider and help me knock off some time."
Bell, 23, and Blount, 28, were arrested Aug. 20 after a motorcycle officer in Ross Township, a suburb just north of Pittsburgh, smelled marijuana coming from a vehicle Bell was driving hours before a team flight to a preseason game in Philadelphia. Blount, who was later released by Pittsburgh and signed by New England, faced only a marijuana possession charge. It was eventually dismissed when he completed 50 hours of community service. He was suspended for the season opener.
The Steelers and Patriots will open the new season in prime time Sept. 10.
Calling this entire ordeal an "embarrassment" to his family, his teammates and himself, Bell said Thursday he has learned from it.
"Marijuana is not an important thing for me," he said. "It's something I easily can set by. If I wanted to do it later on down my life, I'll enjoy it later on. It's something that got me in trouble. Football is what I love. I love the game of football and nothing will come to jeopardize that."
Bell was the NFL's second-leading rusher last season, gaining 1,361 yards and scoring eight touchdowns. He also was Pittsburgh's second-leading receiver with 83 catches for 854 yards.
In addition to spending the offseason moving beyond his off-field incident, Bell has been rehabbing his right knee, which was injured in the regular-season finale against Cincinnati. The injury caused him to miss the Steelers' wild-card playoff loss to Baltimore.