Roethlisberger contributed to Bell's desire to leave Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

The presence of Ben Roethlisberger on the Pittsburgh Steelers contributed to Le'Veon Bell's desire to leave when the opportunity presented itself.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated's Jenny Vrentas, the New York Jets' new running back admitted "it was a factor." He added he wished he shared a "more open, more genuine, more real" partnership with his former quarterback.

"The organization wants to win. (Coach Mike) Tomlin wants to win," he said. "Ben wants to win - but Ben wants to win his way, and that's tough to play with. Ben won a Super Bowl, but he won when he was younger. Now he's at this stage where he tries to control everything, and (the team) let him get there. So if I'm mad at a player and I'm not throwing him the ball - if I'm not throwing (Antonio Brown) the ball and I'm giving JuJu (Smith-Schuster) all the shine or Jesse (James) or Vance (McDonald) or whoever it is, and you know consciously you're making your other receiver mad but you don't care - it's hard to win that way."

Bell sat out the entire 2018 season amid an extended contract dispute. The 27-year-old watched from home as the relationship between Roethlisberger and Brown, one of the top quarterback-receiver tandems in the league, deteriorated.

Brown threw a football at Roethlisberger during practice in Week 17 as their simmering feud reached a boil. The star wideout later accused Roethlisberger of carrying himself with an "owner's mentality" and lacking accountability.

"When I was there, there were no major problems like that, maybe little things like being on Facebook (in the locker room), being uncomfortable," Bell said. "I know Ben and AB personally. I know how personalities can get. I can see where things went wrong. A lot of things AB said, it had a lot of truth to it. I've had some of those interactions. I don't react like AB does. AB isn't the only bad guy in the situation. Ben isn't the only bad guy, either. It's not just one person. It ain't just me. It's everybody."

The trio of Bell, Brown, and Ben were known as the "Killer B's" in Pittsburgh. Despite each player's individual success with the Steelers, the group never got to a Super Bowl together.

Bell signed a four-year, $52.5-million deal with the Jets in free agency after five seasons with the Steelers.

Roethlisberger contributed to Bell's desire to leave Steelers
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