Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell Wholesome for Tremendous Bowl: Report

Either Le’Veon Bell or Antonio Brown will secure a Super Bowl ring next Sunday.

It sounds like both of them are playing in the big game too.

ESPN’s Dianna Russini said the returning Kansas City Chiefs and broad receiver Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expected to be healthy for the Feb.7 game after missing their respective conference championship games with injuries.

That means the notoriously disgruntled former Pittsburgh Steelers stars will now have to compete for the biggest prize in football. It marks a height no one could reach as a member of one of the NFL’s most explosive crimes in Pittsburgh.

Le’Veon Bell got his payday and is playing in the Super Bowl – even if his star is smaller. (AP Photo / Isaac Brekken)

How they got here

They each took detours to get to this point after forcing their Pittsburgh exits. Bell gave up a full season of his NFL career to secure his freelance agency in 2019. He got his payday with the New York Jets but lasted less than two seasons before being released after week 5. The Chiefs then signed him in support of the first-lap rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Since then, he has played a limited role in Kansas City’s serious offense, scoring 353 yards from the brink in nine regular season games. In the Kansas City divisional playoff win against the Cleveland Browns, he secured just two carry for six yards before missing Sunday’s AFC championship win against the Buffalo Bills with a knee injury.

Brown’s troubled path

Brown’s way to this point was more complicated, to say the least. Here is the short version. He made enough noise in Pittsburgh to initiate a deal with the Oakland Raiders ahead of the 2019 season. He didn’t make it to Week 1 in Oakland before Jon Gruden got tired of his antics and fired him at training camp.

Antonio Brown # 81 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers smiles after the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 26, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Nic Antaya / Getty Images)Antonio Brown’s talent overrode his problems off the field to get to that point. (Nic Antaya / Getty Images)

The New England Patriots signed him in time for Week 2. He played a game with the Patriots before his former coach charged him with rape on a civil lawsuit and ordered New England to release him. He stopped playing in 2019. While not in football, Brown ran into other legal troubles, including increased sexual misconduct allegations and an arrest on battery and burglary charges involving the driver of a moving truck.

The story goes on

The NFL banned him for the first eight games of the 2020 season on the latter charges. When he was eligible, he signed with the Buccaneers. His short time in New England had paid off in the form of a relationship with Tom Brady.

His role in a laden Bucs reception corps grew as the season progressed. He finished the regular season with 45 catches for 483 yards and four touchdowns in eight games as a key tooth on Tampa’s offensive. He missed Sunday’s NFC championship win against the Green Bay Packers with a knee injury in the divisional round against the New Orleans Saints.

Like Bell, he is expected to get up next Sunday. It will be an unlikely meeting of former superstar teammates on the biggest football stage.

It’s not exactly a redemption story. But it certainly matters to both former Steelers stars.

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