PITTSBURGH – Despite more competition than in many other years, running back Le’Veon Bell was named the winner of the Joe Greene Great Performance Award, given annually by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America to the Steelers’ top rookie.
Bell, a second round draft pick, was a runaway winner for the award, despite significant contributions from linebackers Jarvis Jones and Vince Williams and safety Shamarko Thomas.
“I feel like I have had a pretty good year,” said Bell. “I am still getting better every week. That is what I wanted to do, continue to get better each and every week. I feel like I am doing that and as long as I continue to go in that direction I will be the player I want to be one day.”
A second-round draft pick out of Michigan State, Bell, who is coming off a career-high 124 yards rushing in last week’s 38-31 win at Green Bay, is the first running back to win the rookie of the year award since Bam Morris in 1994.
“To win the award named after Joe Greene means everything to me,” said Bell. “Meeting him was great, and winning an award named after him is the icing on the cake.”
After missing the first three games of the season with a foot injury, Bell has started 12 consecutive games and leads the Steelers with 770 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Bell has also added 393 yards receiving on 44 receptions, leaving him just seven catches short of John L. Williams’ team record of 51 catches by a running back set in 1994.
Bell enters Sunday’s regular season finale against Cleveland (4-11) needing 73 yards to break Franco Harris’ team rookie record for yards from scrimmage of 1,235 set in 1972.
The Steelers (7-8) hope to extend their season into the playoffs with a win and losses by Miami, Baltimore and San Diego. Pittsburgh is 7-5 this season with Bell in the lineup.
Bell wasn’t the only player honored Tuesday.
Cornerback Ike Taylor was named the winner of The Chief Award, given annually to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of cooperation with the media established by team founder Arthur J. Rooney.
The award has special meaning to Taylor, who has a close relationship with team chairman Dan Rooney, the son of the Steelers founder.
“It’s an honor, especially carrying the Rooney name, it representing Mr. (Dan) Rooney’s dad,” said Taylor. “I will put that on my resume. It means a whole lot to me.”