PITTSBURGH - As the Pittsburgh Steelers took the field for a preseason game in Philadelphia Thursday night, all eyes were on star running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount.
Bell and Blount were pulled over in Ross Township 24 hours prior to taking the field, and were formally charged with marijuana-related charges before the game.
Police said an officer was traveling north on McKnight Road Wednesday when he smelled the odor of marijuana coming from a black Camaro. The car was pulled over in the Pool City parking lot.
Bell was driving the car and Blount, 27, was in the front passenger seat, police said. Mercedes Dollson, 21, of California, was in the back seat, Channel 11's Alan Jennings reported.
The players and Dollson admitted to possessing a small- to medium-sized bag of marijuana that was found in the glove compartment, police said.
“All three individuals were polite and cooperative with the police investigation,” police said.
According to the criminal complaint, Bell told the officer at the scene: “I didn’t know you could get a DUI for being high. I smoked two hours ago. I’m not high anymore. I’m perfectly fine. Why would I be getting high if I had to make it to my game?”
The complaint said the officer then asked Bell what game he was referring to. Bell answered, “I have to be on a plane at 3 to be in Philadelphia. I play for Steelers.”
- Read full criminal complaint HERE
The three will be sent a summons to appear before a district judge on the misdemeanor charges, police said.
After details of the incident were slowly released, many people voiced their opinions on the matter. Former Steelers great Jerome Bettis shared his thoughts on the matter, and offered Bell and Blount some stern words of advice.
“You have to get your life in order. You have to understand what is important, and if football and playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers is important then you’re going to act accordingly. You’re gonna change the things that you’re doing right now because you’re not gonna be with the Steelers or the NFL long if you continue on that path,” Bettis said.
The two running backs carried for a total of 55 yards during Thursday’s game against the Eagles, despite the team’s loss.
Afterward, head coach Mike Tomlin commented on the incident saying only, “I have no reaction other than the statement that we released (Wednesday). That conduct is detrimental to our efforts. They’ll be dealt with appropriately. I didn’t view it as punishment to send them home, to not play in this preseason game. I rather them play more."
Bell and Blount could be disciplined under the NFL's substance-abuse policy, which includes penalties for recreational and performance-enhancing drugs, according to our newspaper exchange partner, TribLive. The policy generally covers players who have failed mandatory drug tests, but players commonly aren't tested for recreational drugs during the season.