What’s billed as an ‘exhibition’ may turn into a career for free-agent running back Le’Veon Bell as the 30-year-old steps into the boxing ring with Adrian Peterson at the end of the month.
Via Pro Football Focus‘ Ari Meirov, Bell said this week about the fight, “This is not a one-off. This will be an introduction to everyone on what I’ve been doing.”
Bell and Peterson will box at Crypto.com Arena, formerly Staples Center, in Los Angeles on July 30th.
Peterson, 37, last played for the Seattle Seahawks in 2021 and is a free agent. It is unclear if Peterson plans to box more than once. He’s played in every NFL season since 2007.
Bell, though, appears set on boxing full-time. At 30 years old, the former Steeler, Jet, Chief, Raven, and Buccaneer is still young enough to play in the NFL but has experienced reduced playing time since the start of the 2020 season. He had a career-low 44 touches in 2021 in stints with Baltimore and Tampa Bay. At his apex, Bell touched the football 406 times — an All-Pro and Pro Bowl 2017 campaign with the Steelers.
Then, Bell held out and didn’t play in the 2018 season, citing a contractual dispute. While he resurfaced with the Jets in 2019, he wasn’t quite the same on the field thereafter.
Peterson was drafted by the Vikings in 2007, revitailzing the franchise for a decade. The team reached the NFC Championship with Brett Favre at quarterback in 2009 while Peterson ran roughshod in his third season. Peterson is the NFL’s fifth-leading rusher all-time and needs 352 yards to pass Hall of Famer Barry Sanders for fourth place. The ex-Viking is 3,437 yards away from the all-time rushing king, Emmitt Smith.
Other football players have tried boxing after football, too, including Lyle Alzado, Mark Gastineau, and Ed “Too Tall” Jones. Frank Gore, a peer of Peterson and Bell, also authored a successful boxing debut in May.
Bell (-180) is favored to defeat Peterson (+140).
Bell and Peterson have combined for 27,235 yards from scrimmage and 177 touchdowns in their NFL careers.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).