Le’Veon Bell was too ill to bowl over Dolphins defenders on Sunday afternoon, but not to knock down some pins late Saturday.
The Jets running back, who missed Sunday’s win because of the flu, spent Saturday night at a New Jersey bowling alley, according to sources. One source also had photos that show Bell at his lane.
Bell missed practice Thursday and Friday and was ruled out of the game on Saturday because he was dealing with the flu. Jets coach Adam Gase said the team sent him home Friday to avoid getting other players sick. Gase also said Bell was not present at Saturday’s team walk-through. He was not seen at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, when the Jets beat the Dolphins 22-21.
Apparently he felt well enough to bowl a few frames Saturday, though. Sources said he was at Boonton Lanes, which is not far from where the Jets train in New Jersey, from around 10:30 p.m. to close to 1 a.m., when the bowling alley closed. Bell was easy to spot in orange leather pants.
Bell’s party had alcohol on its table, but it was unclear if Bell himself was drinking. An eyewitness said Bell seemed to be having a good time bowling and had a driver outside keeping a white Mercedes-Benz warm for him.
While Bell was bowling, his team was at a hotel near the Meadowlands making its final preparations for the game with the Dolphins.
The Jets did not have media access Monday outside of conference calls with select players. Bell was not one of them.
The Jets declined to comment Monday when told about Bell’s whereabouts Saturday night. It is possible he will face internal discipline for his bowling outing.
This is the latest episode in a rocky first season for Bell. The Jets signed him to a four-year, $52.5 million contract with $27 million guaranteed in March after he sat out the 2018 season in a contract dispute with the Steelers. Former general manager Mike Maccagnan signed Bell despite the objections of Gase, who did not think it was wise to invest big money in a running back.
Gase has struggled to find ways to get Bell going this season. He is having the most unproductive year of his career, rushing for 589 yards and three touchdowns on 183 carries. He also has 55 catches for 403 yards and one touchdown. Bell has not rushed for more than 70 yards in a game this season. The Jets rushed for 112 yards without him Sunday, including 74 from Bilal Powell.
The Jets had trade discussions about Bell at the trading deadline and there is speculation the team could try to move him this offseason despite him having $13 million guaranteed on his contract next year.
On Dec. 1, Bell only had 10 carries for 32 yards in a loss to the Bengals and was very short with his answers in the postgame locker room. He has not spoken to the media since, but did record his “17 Weeks” podcast on Sirius XM/Pandora last week. He addressed the lack of touches in the Bengals game.
“Honestly, I’ve been playing in this league for a long time,” Bell said on the podcast. “I’ve always been kind of used to like, you know, getting the ball 20, 25, 30 times. Because that’s what, my body can handle it, that’s the type of player I’ve always been. Even in college, at Michigan State, I was handling the ball that much. I go to the NFL it been the same thing. It’s been funny this year because it hasn’t happened. I understand, you know, offense is starting to come together, and guys are starting to learn, and we’ve got a new system, and new players up front, and we’ve got new coaches and things like that. But I think, you know, for me, I would love to put the game on my back and take games over. I haven’t had one of those games this year yet.
“A lot of people don’t think I’m the same player or that I can’t do that. That’s just because I haven’t had the opportunity really to show. As time goes on we’ll get better. We’ll find a way to make things shake.”
Gase said Monday that Bell was “pretty close to 100 percent” on Monday and he expected him to be at the team’s weightlifting session Monday night since he was no longer considered contagious. It sounds like he will play Thursday night against the Ravens.
[via New York Post]