The announcement comes less than two months removed from Frank Gore, the NFL’s No. 3 all-time rusher, winning his professional boxing debut via first-round knockout on May 15.
Bell and Peterson’s first foray into the ring will be an exhibition, though, just like Gore’s against former NBA player Deron Williams in December of 2021.
Largely sparked by YouTuber Jake Paul facing other YouTube celebrities, former NBA player Nate Robinson and most recently older former mixed martial artists who had predominantly wrestling bases, the celebrity boxing world is now a destination for former standout running backs it would seem.
However, prominent NFL players dabbling in the sweet science isn’t exactly novel. Longtime NFL defensive lineman Lyle Alzado once boxed Muhammed Ali in an exhibition and other former D-linemen Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Alonzo Highsmith and Mark Gastineau have ventured into pro boxing. Highsmith actually knocked out Gastineau after both had largely fattened their records defeating journeymen.
Bell, who’s seven years Peterson’s junior, is a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro. Those accolades came in five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Having sat out the 2018 season amid a contract dispute with the Steelers, Bell signed a lucrative deal with the New York Jets, but never found his previous form and during his second season with the club he was released. He went on to play for the Kansas City Chiefs, Ravens and Bucs.
Peterson is seen by most as an all-time great with 14,918 rushing yards to support that claim. With 120 rushing touchdowns to his career, Peterson was also the last running back to win AP NFL Most Valuable Player, which he did in 2012 amid his 10-season tenure with the Minnesota Vikings. Thereafter, Peterson played for the Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints, Washington, Detroit Lions, Titans and Seahawks.
Peterson and Bell are each currently free agents.
Two former running back greats who starred on Sundays are now set to throw hands on a Saturday night.