Adrian Peterson and Le’Veon Bell recently agreed to face off in a boxing exhibition July 30, but the veteran NFL running backs will take differing approaches to football after leaving the ring. The latter, last seen briefly with the Buccaneers in 2021, said Tuesday that he won’t play in the NFL in 2022 while transitioning to a boxing career, per NFL Media. Peterson, meanwhile, is leaving the door open for a return to the field after playing for his seventh different team last season.
“This year, I know I’m not going to be playing this year,” Bell said, “because I want to focus on boxing.”
The 30-year-old former Steelers star added that his boxing match with Peterson won’t be a one-time dabble with the sport, at least according to his plans. It’s possible Bell would’ve struggled to find NFL work ahead of the 2022 season anyway. Once one of the game’s top multipurpose backs, the four-time All-Pro has bounced between four teams over the last two seasons, making just four combined starts with the Jets, Chiefs, Ravens and Buccaneers.
Peterson, 37, explained Tuesday that “even after this fight I’ll still be on my same routine waiting for an opportunity to present itself.” The longtime Vikings standout and former NFL MVP could also be on his last legs in football. Since leading Washington with over 1,000 rushing yards in 2018, Peterson’s yardage totals have declined in three straight seasons, and he played in just four combined games in 2021, briefly appearing as an emergency backup for the Titans and Seahawks.
In the meantime, he and Bell are anticipating the chance to go blow for blow at Los Angeles’ Crypto.com Arena.
“When the opportunity presented itself, I looked at it as a challenge,” Bell said. “I’ve been in the lab, just working, grinding and waiting for this opportunity to come. … (It) couldn’t have been a better name for my first opponent.”