Correction: Yeremiah Bell, as Troy pointed out below, IS a steel-driving man.
Original & Luckily Now Wrong Article Below - Still Good Reading To Be Had.
First let me start by saying, "Happy birthday, Johnny Cash."
Oh, and Cash...that sleepy-eyed pretty boy screwed up a perfectly good night again. Some of them don't know how it ought to be done.
That obscurity aside, I am a fan of underdogs and a connoisseur of stories.
Yeremiah Bell was (is yet—though most likely is gone) one of my favorite Dolphins. The story of his making it to the pros is one of the best in recent years. He was not heavily recruited after high school, but Bell believed he could play at the next level.
Bell takes a job after high school and works in a Kentucky steel mill for a year, living at home with his parents and saving his money. He takes that money to the University of Kentucky and tells the coach that if he makes the team he can pay his own way for the first year.
The coach keeps him, and the following year Bell gets a scholarship. He's known as a big hitter in college, but the lack of fluidity (a word only used only in Tai Chi and NFL draft analysis) in his hips drops him all the way to the sixth round come NFL draft time.
It was 2002, and the Dolphins had mortgaged their draft that year to trade for Ricky Williams. Yeremiah Bell is the only player from that draft (Ricky wasn't drafted; he was traded for) still with the team.
It took him years of special teams and league minimum pay to finally get noticed. Nick Saban was reluctant to start him, but Bell just continued to make plays in special packages. Sacks off of safety blitzes. Big fumbles on short yardage plays. Pass defenses on third down. He won the job late that season and started as the Dolphins' strong safety.
In 2007 he had the starting spot from day one. He also ruptured his Achilles tendon in the first game. Practically the first play. He was out for the rest of the year.
Bell rehabbed though, with the same determination that he used to work his way through the steel mills of Kentucky to the NFL. In 2008 this paid off. Bell was the leading tackler for the defense that took a team from last place to first place in the AFC East.
We all saw the big plays he made. Think of the open field smack he laid down on Marshawn Lynch to close out the second Bills game. Or the sublime block he threw on Brett Favre after Favre's final career interception (or play, as he would call it).
Now with the signing of Gibril Wilson, the Dolphins have all but said goodbye to YB. Wilson is a hell of a player. While not the same hitter that Bell is, he is by no stretch of the imagination not a player to fear over the middle. The guy can thump. He's also maybe a little better in pass coverage. Over his career he's had more interceptions, sacks, and pass defenses. In Bell's defense, Yeremiah took a lot longer to make the field.
Wilson is faster than Bell. I don't know, however, if Wilson is quick enough to play free safety. He's close though. It's hard to say because he played with the Raiders last year, and their front seven were so bad Wilson was essentially a tackling machine—something he did quite well at.
So with a five-year, $27.5 million contract being handed to Wilson, it looks like Bell's days are numbered.
In any case, I wish Yeremiah Bell the best. This one's for you, hammer-swinger...