Bell was suspended three games by the NFL on Friday for violating the league's substance abuse policy, the league announced. The suspension was reduced from four games upon appeal, a source informed of the settlement agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association told NFL Media's Mike Garafolo. Bell missed several drug tests, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport previously reported.
"We are disappointed Le'Veon Bell has been suspended three games to start the 2016 season," Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement. "We will continue to support Le'Veon, but we acknowledge this mistake has put the team in an unfortunate position. We will continue to work with Le'Veon to help him eliminate distractions in his life so he can reach his full potential as a member of our community as well as a player for the Pittsburgh Steelers."
As part of a settlement between the two parties, Bell will remain in his current stage of the substance-abuse program, Garafolo added. Staying in the same stage of the program means Bell's next suspension would also be four games, not 10.
After his suspension was announced, Bell apologized to his fans and teammates in a video he posted to Twitter that was removed a short time later. He stated in the video that he missed drug tests in December, January and April. "I put the blame on myself," Bell said.
Bell ended the video by stating "after this whole situation is done, you'll get a better person and a better player out of it."
On Saturday, he elaborated on his comments while speaking to reporters after practice.
"I own up to everything," Bell said. "It's all my fault and I can't blame anyone for anything.
"Obviously, I've got to learn from this and move on."
This qualifies as partially good news for Bell and the Steelers. While he will get back on the field sooner, Bell was still holding out belief on social media recently that he wouldn't miss any games at all. Bell was suspended in 2015 following an arrest for marijuana possession and DUI in August 2014.
At least the Steelers know they can survive without Bell, even though we believe he's the most complete running back in football. The team went 7-3 without Bell last season when he was suspended and subsequently injured last year. This season, however, the offense is also dealing with wide receiver Martavis Bryant's season-long suspension.
Pittsburgh starts its season with a road game in Washington before hosting the Bengals and heading to Philadelphia. To take the next step as a team, they are hoping to be more balanced this year with an improved defense taking some of the load off Ben Roethlisberger's shoulders. Replacing Bell in the lineup has just become part of the routine in Pittsburgh.