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When the Pittsburgh Steelers take the field against New England on Sunday, the AFC’s top playoff seed will be on the line. Ahead of that highly anticipated matchup, Yahoo Sports spoke to Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell about how Ryan Shazier’s injury has impacted the team, why the road to the Lombardi Trophy goes through Pittsburgh, and one of his off-field hobbies: Playing and starring in “Call of Duty: World War II.”
Yahoo Sports: The Steelers are in first place in the AFC. Should Pittsburgh be considered the favorite to win the Super Bowl? What does your game against New England mean for the rest of the season and playoffs?
Le’Veon Bell: I’m obviously going to say yeah, we should be the Super Bowl favorite and we have the talent to back it up. I think we haven’t been necessarily playing our wholesale nfl jerseys best football, but we’ve been getting the job done for the last eight weeks or so that we’ve won. It may not be pretty, we may not win by 25, 30 points or play a style everybody likes, but we find a way to get the job done.
I think us beating Baltimore [in Week 14] 39-38 really showed a lot because that’s a divisional rivalry, against a team that’s been playing really good football. Then you see a team like New England [during the same week] they played a division rival and they didn’t get the job done. Some people don’t like the way we win, but at the end of the day we are winning the games. So I’m confident and I think the rest of our team is too.
The Steelers haven’t lost since Week 5 against Jacksonville. What changed?
I definitely think [that was our season’s turning point]. I think after our loss to Jacksonville it really opened our eyes and we found ways to win each and every game. I think us losing the way we did, we didn’t play a great football game. Those guys they made us pay for it. Jacksonville is a great football team and we have to go out there and play better football. We really realized that after that game.
The Ryan Shazier injury was awful to see, everyone is praying for his recovery, but in a way has it given your season a special meaning?
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We obviously want to play for him. We know he’s a guy who put everything on the line to try and get the job done. We want to go out there and win the Super Bowl for him. For him I know how tough it is to watch football and not be able to play right now, especially with the condition he’s in. As a team we are always reaching out to him, checking on him, making sure he’s OK and in good spirits and he has been.
How long have you been playing ‘Call of Duty’ for? How did you and Alejandro Villanueva get the opportunity to be in the game?
I’ve been playing the franchise for as long as I can remember. Every year I always get the new game. I think they picked Al because of his background with the armed forces but with me it was more that they saw that I love the game so much. I used to post it on my social media, clips of sniping, getting a whole bunch of kills, so they knew I was interested. Me and Al both had different ways of getting on the game but here we are and we got to play a good part.
What was the hardest part for you during this new experience of being in a video game?
I think the toughest part for me personally was remembering the lines and learning how to be a sergeant, being that guy in charge. It’s not something I do every day, but trying to get into that mode and act that role was the toughest part. At the same time, I was able to be myself [when I wasn’t in the motion-capture suit]. I think the people there enjoyed me being there during the process.
Who else on the team plays? Who is the best among you guys?
Outside of me who’s the best player? We have a group chat for the guys that play ‘Call of Duty’ and we send out a text to see who’s online and usually seven or eight guys respond. We do it every day. Martavis plays, Roosevelt Nix plays a lot, Jesse James, Vance McDonald. Al [Villanueva], because he’s actually been in war, sometimes I have to tell him it’s not real. He doesn’t think he can die but it’s a just a game, he takes it so serious.