The Jets-Steelers matchup this week was one many probably circled on their calendars back when the regular season schedules were released. It is Le'Veon Bell's "revenge game," so to speak, and there's no need to explain why -- with football fans knowing about that recent feud which led to him signing with the Jets in the first place.
Bell, though, isn't looking at things that way.
Normally, players will use a former team on their schedule as extra motivation to perform, but Bell doesn't hold that same mindset.
"Honestly, I don't even look at it like that," Bell said after practice on Thursday. "I just go out there and play football."
In fact, Bell doesn't dwell on the past much. The situation in Pittsburgh is one he's made peace with, and would like to move on from. He's a Jet now and wants to be for years to come.
"I don't regret anything that happened. I'm happy where I am today," he said. "The way things are going obviously is not ideal with the way our record is and things like that. But like I said Weeks 2 and 3 and before that, this is a stage kind of like rebuilding and to be a part of that and see it grow that's what I want to do ultimately."
Bell's time with the Steelers ended on a sour note, but before his contract dispute, the 27-year-old was beloved by the entire city of Pittsburgh. He was arguably the best running back in the NFL then, and head coach Mike Tomlin used him as such. For example, his last season with the Steelers in 2017 saw 1,291 rushing yards on 321 attempts and 85 receptions for 655 yards with 11 total touchdowns.
That's about half of the team's offensive reps going to No. 26.
Bell knows "it's going to be packed with Steelers fans" at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, as it's a rabid fanbase that travels around the league very well. So how does he think they will greet him in different threads?
"I don't know, honestly. I think it would probably be 50/50," he admitted. "I think half are happy to see me and still love, and [the other] half that hate me and despise me. It is what it is. I'm going to show love regardless. Everybody that's wearing my jersey I'm going to go sign it and things like that. So it'll be fun."
He may not say it out loud, but Bell would love to put on a show against his former team. Unfortunately, there hasn't been much of that vintage Bell magic this season with the Jets struggling to create holes for him up front. But last week against a good Ravens defense, Bell managed 87 yards on the ground to set a new season-high.
Whether or not he can do that against this Steelers defense -- that he praised on each level by the way -- remains to be seen.