They faced off as members of AFC North rival teams twice a year for five years - when Bell was with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Burfict the Cincinnati Bengals.
And Bell thinks the NFL got it right when it suspended Burfict.
‘There’s certain lines you can’t cross’
On the newest episode of “17 Weeks,” an NFL podcast from Uninterrupted and hosted by Nate Burleson, Bell talks about Burfict’s suspension, which is for the remainder of the regular season and postseason (if the Oakland Raiders qualify). It came after a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit on Indianapolis tight end Jack Doyle.
Bell, now with the New York Jets, didn’t hold much back.
“There’s certain fine lines you really can’t cross and I feel like he kind of finds it every game,” Bell said. “It’s like unbelievable. The league did what it did. I’m glad they’re finally trying to bite down on things like that because we don’t want dirty players in the league. Obviously, you don’t want guys to not be able to provide for their family.
“It’s not like I don’t want him on the field, but I just want him to play clean. If he’s not playing clean then other guys can’t really provide for their families because they’re hurt.”
That’s clearly what the NFL wants as well; Burfict has been fined and suspended previously for dirty hits.
‘It kind of changed my life’
Bell continued that Burfict frequently does questionable things on the field, and recalled the November 2015 play in which Burfict pulled him down, resulting in a season-ending torn MCL.
“I’ve played Vontaze Burfict numerous times and there’s been a lot of plays that people don’t see where it’s been dirty,” Bell said. “He had a bunch of dirty things on me, but in 2015, the one that kind of hurt me on the sideline, he didn’t have to do that.”
Being sidelined impacted Bell beyond missing some games.
“It kind of changed my life,” he said. “I feel like in 2015 I was on the verge of having my best football year. At that time I was in the best shape of my life, I was doing everything right, so then when I got hurt, it just kind of like set me back and I kind of went into this like, I don’t want to say depression, but it was something close to it. Just because of the fact that I wasn’t able to play football and I was hurt.
“And it was so hard, it was literally the hardest thing ever for me to come back from a knee injury. Don’t get me wrong, knee injuries happen. But it shouldn’t be like a guy trying to pull you down and wrap their legs around you and pull you back to really fold your leg up. It shouldn’t be like that.”
He has a point.
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