Bell remains friends with Patriots’ Blount


Associated Press

PITTSBURGH

The phone calls and texts between LeGarrette Blount and Le’Veon Bell haven’t stopped.

Not after the embarrassing traffic stop in the summer of 2014 that ended with both running backs being charged with drug possession and — eventually — suspensions for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Not after the talented but enigmatic Blount walked off the field and ostensibly out of a job when he headed to the locker room with time still on the clock during a Monday night win in Tennessee later that year, a silent protest for a lack of touches on a night Bell ran for 204 yards.

Not even this week, with Blount prepping for his first visit to Pittsburgh since the Steelers (4-2) cut him for insubordination when New England (5-1) visits Heinz Field.

“He’s still one of my closest friends,” Bell said. “I still talk to him. He watches my game. I watch his. We still critique each other, tell each other what we do good, what we do bad. He’s definitely a good guy.”

Maybe, though the image of Blount already dressed and practically sprinting for the bus by the time his teammates walked into the visitor’s locker room in Nashville, remains fresh.

“It’s nothing that you take personally, but football player to football player, that’s something you don’t do,” Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats said.

The Steelers cut Blount less than 48 hours later, though the ink on the transaction wasn’t even dry when the Patriots asked Blount to come back home.

In a way, Blount’s performance over the last two years with the Patriots has only validated Blount’s assertion that he deserved to be more involved in the game plan. He won a Super Bowl in New England two months after re-signing with New England and is currently seventh in the league in rushing (439 yards) and tied for second in touchdowns (six).

And his good friend has noticed.

“He’s a monster,” BEll said. “I think he’s one of the best running backs in this league. I think he’s an underrated guy. I think he’ll start getting the respect he deserves once he’s consistent and on the field a lot.”

Something that didn’t happen nearly enough in 2014. Brought in to serve as a veteran presence behind Bell, Blount ended up seeing his role diminish as Bell became one of the best all-around backs in the league, his potential on full display as he practically carried the Steelers on the back of his No. 26 jersey in a 27-24 escape against the Titans.

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