The Pittsburgh Steelers will be starting the 2015 NFL season at a significant disadvantage.
According to a report from Adam Schefter, an NFL insider for ESPN, star Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell is going to miss the first three games of the season after being handed a suspension by Roger Goodell and the National Football League for violating substance abuse policy.
The suspension stems from an incident where Bell was arrested for a suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession last year. New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount was involved in the same incident and was only suspended for one game from the same incident.
The difference between the two was that Blount didn't have the DUI charge like Bell did. The two were teammates in Pittsburgh last year before Blount was released after leaving the field while a game was still going on.
Bell received 15 months' probation in a first offender's program and his license was suspended for 60 days. Blount had his charge dropped on the condition that he completed 50 hours of community service.
The Steelers selected Bell with a second-round draft pick out of Michigan State in 2013. The speedy back broke through in his second NFL season, rushing for 1,361 yards on 290 attempts, catching 83 passes for 854 yards and scoring 11 touchdowns as the Steelers went 11-5 and won the AFC North.
Bell's absence will come as a big blow to the Steelers, even if it is only for three games. The AFC North is going to be tight in 2015 with the Ravens, Steelers, Bengals and Browns all fighting for playoff places like they did last year. With DeAngelo Williams coming in from the Panthers, the blow will be softened, but he isn't on the same level as Bell and it could be a brutal loss.