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WINCHESTER – Yeremiah Bell remembers watching the “Roy Kidd Show” while working at a steel mill following high school.
Bell was convinced he could play football at the collegiate level. Bell eventually walked on at Eastern Kentucky University and landed a scholarship. He not only turned heads of Kidd and his defensive coaching staff at the time, but professional scouts took note of Bell’s potential. In 2003, Bell was drafted in the sixth round of the NFL Draft and played the first nine years of his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins before splitting the next two seasons with the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals, respectively.
Bell opted to retire after an 11-year career recently and is finished with football.
“I’m done (with playing football),” Bell said. “It’s not official because my agent hasn’t turned in the papers yet but within myself, I’ve played my career (in the NFL). I’m going to miss it, and I’m supposed to, but at the same time as a person, you have to know when to say when. The last couple of years, it’s been on my mind. This year, I kind of knew (it was time to retire). Honestly, not many NFL players get to (play) 10 years. For some reason when I got going, (10 years) was always the magic number in my head. I’m not one of those guys who want to play until my wheels fall off.”
Bell added that the brutality of football and his desire to be close with his family were two reasons he opted against playing for a 12th season in the professional ranks.
“Football is a brutal sport and some guys stay with it until the league kicks them out but I felt like this way, the choice is strictly on me and I’m happy with it. Everybody else is a little more tore up about me not playing than I am because that’s what I’m been doing my whole life. I’m happy to be home and where I’m at. I love Kentucky and my family. That’s big for me.”
Bell, 36, said he “feels great” mentally and physically and didn’t want to take a chance with possible injuries in the future. He added the concern over concussion injuries also played a role in his decision to retire from the league.
“There’s no doubt in my mind I could still go back and still play,” he said. “When I look at my career, and the things I’ve done, and I look at my home life. … my kids are getting older and I’m starting to miss my family more. I have nieces and nephews that are growing up and (family) is important to me.”
During his career with Miami, Bell helped lead the Dolphins to the divisional title in 2008 and one year later, Bell was named to the Pro Bowl. Bell, a strong safety, recovered 10 fumbles, collected eight interceptions and had 568 tackles, including a career-high 100 tackles in 2008. He also had 13 sacks, with three of those coming in 2005 while he was with the Dolphins.
“I had fun,” he said. “I had a great career and I lived the dream.”
Bell plans to take a year off before getting into coaching. Even though he excelled at the collegiate and professional level, Bell wants to coach at the high school level. Bell was contacted about the vacancy at George Rogers Clark High School earlier this year but wanted to take a break from the sport before making another commitment to football.
“I want to coach the game when it’s still fun and the kids are still learning,” he said. “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.”