It took perhaps longer than most would have liked, but the NFL made a decision on the appeal of Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell’s three-game suspension he received for both possessing and driving under the influence of marijuana last summer. As reported by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and various other outlets, Bell’s suspension has been reduced to two-games to start the 2015 regular season, and he’ll be eligible to play when the Steelers travel to St. Louis to take on the Rams in a Week 3 match-up on September 27.
Last August 20, Bell was the driver in a car with LeGarrette Blount, Bell’s backup until his release in November, when the vehicle was stopped by Ross Township police (Ross is a suburb north of Pittsburgh). Both running backs were found in possession of marijuana, and Bell was later found to have a sufficient amount of the substance in his system to charge him with a DUI.
According to the the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Bell’s appeal may have centered around the differences between the NFL’s old drug policy (in-place when Bell was stopped by police) and the new one, implemented last September. Under the old policy, a conviction for using marijuana would draw a one-game suspension, but a DUI would not. Under the new policy, a DUI warrants a two-game suspension, but a first time positive test for marijuana carries no suspension.
- While Blount, now a member of the Patriots, would ultimately be suspended for one week, because of the DUI, Bell was initially given three games.
Bell finished second in the NFL a season ago in both rushing yards (1,361) and total yards from scrimmage (2,215).
In Bell’s absence, DeAngelo Williams, the veteran free-agent signed in the offseason from the Panthers, is expected to get the bulk of the work at running back.