Two members of the Steelers’ backfield probably will be cited with marijuana violations after a Ross police officer smelled marijuana coming from their vehicle Wednesday afternoon.
Running backs Le’Veon Bell, 22, and LeGarrette Blount, 27, are expected to be charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession, Ross police said. Police anticipate charging Mr. Bell as well with driving under the influence of marijuana.
The traffic officer, Sean Stafiej, smelled marijuana while stopped on his motorcycle at a red light at the intersection of McKnight Road and Braunlich Drive.
“As traffic moved forward, he was able to identify the specific car,” said Ross police Detective Brian Kohlhepp.
Officer Stafiej pulled over the black Camaro, registered to Mr. Bell, in the Pool City parking lot about 1:30 p.m. and found a plastic bag in the car with about 20 grams of marijuana.
Mr. Bell, who was driving, Mr. Blount, in the passenger seat, and an unidentified female riding in the backseat of the vehicle claimed collective ownership of the marijuana and all are expected to be charged with possession.
Citations will probably be mailed out early next week, Detective Kohlhepp said.
In Pennsylvania, possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana is considered to be for personal use, rather than distribution, and is classified as a misdemeanor.
Mr. Bell was taken to UPMC Passavant, where his blood was tested for marijuana. Police anticipate charging him with driving under the influence of marijuana, pending the results of the blood test.
All three were “cooperative and polite,” Detective Kohlhepp said.
The Steelers “are aware of the reports and still gathering information,” said team spokesman Burt Lauten on Wednesday night. “We will have no further comment at this time.”
The Steelers had a midday practice session Wednesday before their flight to Philadelphia for tonight’s preseason game.
Mr. Bell was not on the Philadelphia flight, which typically would depart Pittsburgh about 2:30 p.m. It could not be determined if Mr. Blount made the trip.
Mr. Bell is in his second season with the Steelers, after being drafted in the second round in April 2013.
He was the team's leading rusher last season with 860 yards and scored eight touchdowns. He started 13 games after missing the first three because of a foot injury.
Mr. Blount is in his first season with the Steelers. He is entering his fifth NFL season after spending his first three seasons with Tampa Bay and last season with New England. He was signed as a free agent this spring.
The players will be subject to the NFL discipline policy for substance abuse if they are convicted of or admit to a violation of law.
The current policy, issued in 2010, provides that players “be subject to discipline up to and including suspension without pay for four regular and/or post-season games for a first violation of the law.”
In 2008, the Steelers suspended Santonio Holmes for one game, with pay, after he was cited for marijuana possession.
On Friday, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was suspended for the season opener against Tennessee for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Mr. Bowe was pulled over for speeding in a Kansas City suburb on Nov. 10, and was arrested after police found a black bag containing his wallet, driver’s license and two containers of suspected marijuana.
He later pleaded guilty to amended charges of defective equipment and littering, and his attorney said there was no admission of guilt for the marijuana charge, which was dismissed.
The one-game suspension is in line with punishments that have been handed down by the league in similar cases. Mr. Bowe will still be eligible to participate in preseason practices and games.
Anya Sostek: email@example.com. Post-Gazette writers Ray Fittipaldo and Ed Bouchette and the Associated Press contributed to this story.
First Published August 20, 2014 8:49 PM