If you attended a Steelers game during the 2017 season, you may have noticed the crowd going crazy any time Justin Bell got his hands on the ball. You may also have noticed the other team panicking as Bell shot, twisted, and raced down the field, skillfully eluding the opponent’s grasp. The obvious winner of the pass defense stats (10 interceptions), Bell is a quarterback’s worst nightmare. When you pair that with his accumulation of about 100 all-purpose yards per game and his ability to tackle, you really have a force to be reckoned with. Overall, there is no doubt Bell’s presence on the field means anything but trouble for the opposing team.
Meaning, the Maple League teams better watch out because Bell is coming back to play with the Steelers during the 2018 season! When asked about Justin re-signing, head coach Pekka Utriainen said, “I am of course very happy that Justin will continue to make plays for us, now a division higher. All the interceptions returned for touchdowns, all the kick return yards and other great special team plays Justin made this past summer were only overshadowed in my eyes by his great work ethic. On the practice field, at the gym or watching film, this guy will lead by example. Us being a very young team, this was and now luckily continues to be very key for our future success.” In that case, Bell—with his unbeatable work ethic—is definitely the guy for the Steelers. Bell himself says he attributes his success in the 2017 season to “being in the gym consistently working out with some teammates throughout the whole season.” Moreover, Bell not only is a driven individual, but he is a team player. “I care a lot about how I’m playing as an individual,” Bell said, “as well as how the team is playing as a whole and I try to win on every play.”
Bell’s ability to play different positions on the field also makes him valuable. As Coach Utriainen said, “Now going to the Maple League, the import rules will also change a little. Justin can play a little offense too now, which will be very exciting for sure, with his ability to make guys miss.” Additionally, it’s great for the Steelers to be able to maintain some kind of continuity within the team. These guys tore the field up during their first year together. Who knows what they’ll be able to do during their second year?!
Of course, it’s not just the Steelers who are happy to have Bell back. Bell is happy to be back as well. In addition to his own willingness to work hard, Bell also attributes his success to “the preparation by our coaches” and the “great assistance from people for anything needed outside of football.” Bell said, “I see a great foundation being built within the program and I enjoyed being a part of it,” and when asked how his experience in Finland compared to his experience in Italy, he responded, “I had a good experience in Italy but with the Steelers I sense more honesty and prestige in the Steelers program which I greatly appreciated.”
Of course, the Steelers’ success in the championship also helped Bell make his decision to return. According to Bell, the Steelers’ have a “great opportunity to win a championship in one of the top leagues in Europe.” Finally, in addition to his appreciation of the coaches, his respect for the Steelers organization, and his enthusiasm about next season, Bell also said he simply enjoyed his time with the Steelers: “I enjoyed playing last season and think coming back to the Steelers could be even more fun since I know what to expect. I liked everything from the coaches, teammates, and fans that supported us and wouldn’t mind being a part of that again.”
And, naturally, we wouldn’t mind having him! Until then, Bell plans to be in the gym working hard. Unfortunately, he was injured during last off season, but he is completely healed now, and he intends to do as much working out as possible. In the meantime, Bell says, “I want Steeler fans to know that I appreciate the support that they gave and it was fun. Next year will be even more fun and the Steelers will put on a big show.” Well, Justin, we are excited for the show, and just as excited that you will be a part of it!