Le'Veon Bell Considered Retiring from NFL, Focusing on Boxing Before Bucs Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 22, 2021

TAMPA, FL - DEC 22: LeVeon Bell (6) smiles as he walks onto the practice field during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Work Out on December 22, 2021 at the AdventHealth Training Center at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Le'Veon Bell was weighing a major career change before he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The three-time Pro Bowler told reporters Wednesday he "got to the point where I had thought about kinda calling it quits, just cause the fact that it wasn't working out for me the last couple spots I've been at."

"This was like literally the only spot that I felt like made me want to play football and go out there and be excited to play," he said. "This was like literally the only place that could have called me and got me to really go play. I was gonna start boxing and focusing on boxing."

Boxing has become a lucrative alternative for athletes who are either retired or don't have a bright future in their respective sports. Nate Robinson, Deron Williams and Frank Gore are among the group of recent former NBA and NFL player-turned-pugilists.

Bell went so far as to challenge Jake Paul following Paul's knockout of Tyron Woodley:

Le'Veon Bell @LeVeonBell

<a href="https://twitter.com/jakepaul?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@jakepaul</a> fight me, stop tryna fight ppl who can’t box

That he would already consider that as an option is somewhat surprising, though, given his age (29). He should theoretically still have some years left on the gridiron.

But Bell hasn't been the same player since his contract standoff with the Pittsburgh Steelers cost him the entire 2018 season. His stints with the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens were especially underwhelming. 

The 6'1" running back had 353 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in nine games with Kansas City last season. His brief run in Baltimore was even worse (31 carries, 83 yards, two touchdowns).

Perhaps Bell can reverse his trajectory with the Buccaneers.

The reigning Super Bowl champions are first in the NFC South at 10-4, and they have a clear void in their backfield. Giovani Bernard is on injured reserve with a hip injury, and ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Leonard Fournette is "likely" to land on IR because of a hamstring issue. Head coach Bruce Arians said no decision has been made yet.

In Tampa Bay, Bell should be able to chase a Super Bowl ring while competing with Ronald Jones II for carries. For now, putting boxing on hold was the smart choice.