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Yeremiah Bell retires after 11 NFL seasons


Safety Yeremiah Bell wasn’t supposed to play in the NFL. Instead, he made it, and he lasted for more than a decade.

Bell tells the Winchester (Ky.) Sun that it’s time to move on.

I’m done,” Bell said. “It’s not official because my agent hasn’t turned in the papers yet but within myself, I’ve played my career.”

Before nine seasons with the Dolphins (five as a starter), one with the Jets (where he started all 16 games), and a final year in Arizona (where he again started all 16 games), Bell was a guy with a pipe dream, working in a steel mill, watching the Eastern Kentucky coach’s weekly TV show, and telling colleagues and friends that he’d play for the team.

“He always talked about how he’d work his way through college and get to the pros,” Emery Crawford, a coworker at the mill, told the Cardinals’ website last year. “Everybody just thought he was talking. . . . He’d say, ‘One of these days I’m going to make it to the big leagues.’ I said, ‘Son, I hope you do, but I’ve heard it before.’”

Persistence led to a workout. Wearing borrowed cleats two sizes too big, Bell ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash. He made the team, secured a scholarship, and then ruptured a patellar tendon playing basketball before his senior year.

The Dolphins nevertheless took a sixth-round flyer on Bell. The gamble paid off. For the team and the player.

For Bell, it was about a lot more than luck. It was about making a commitment to getting the most out of the intersection between his God-given abilities and his interests. And that’s a great example for anyone who hesitates to put in the work necessary to maximize that potential.

Bell’s next challenge will be to get the most out of whatever teaching skills he has been given.
“I want to coach the game when it’s still fun and the kids are still learning,” Bell told the Sun. “The kids are still raw and I can teach a lot of what I learned and just go out there and have fun with it. I just want to coach high school and give back some of the things I’ve learned.”

Whatever they learn directly from Bell, those kids will learn a lot by understanding his journey -- and by resolving to emulate his work ethic and drive.