In an interview with Sports Illustrated's Jenny Vrentas, Bell called the Steelers a "great organization" but also said the team doesn't "treat you like you're human":
After Bob Pompeani, a CBS Pittsburgh newscaster, called Bell out for those comments, the three-time Pro Bowler clarified he was trying to say the city doesn't treat its athletes as three-dimensional people with other interests away from the field:
Bell came to have a complicated relationship with the Steelers after being a second-round draft pick in 2013. He emerged one of the NFL's top running backs, racking up 7,996 yards from scrimmage and 42 total touchdowns in 62 games over five seasons.
Despite their success together, Bell and the Steelers were unable to find common ground on a long-term contract. He played the 2017 season under the franchise tag before sitting out all last season rather than play on the franchise deal for a second straight year.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the Steelers' final contract offer to Bell was for five years and $70 million total, including $30 million to be paid out over the first two years.
After hitting free agency for the first time in his career, Bell finally received a long-term commitment he was looking for from the New York Jets. The 27-year-old agreed to a four-year deal worth a reported $52.5 million, per ESPN's Adam Schefter, on March 13.