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What the AAF means to former Bucs receiver Kenny Bell

The former fifth-round pick who never caught a pass for Tampa Bay played his first game in four years.
Kenny Bell, playing for the Bucs, catches a pass during warm ups before a preseason game against the Eagles in 2016 in Philadelphia. [AP Photo/Mel Evans]
Published Feb. 11

Kenny Bell never played a game that counted in the NFL. A fifth-round pick from Nebraska by the Bucs in 2015, he came in with Jameis Winston’s celebrated rookie class, but a series of injuries kept him off the field.

A hamstring injury forced him to miss the last two preseason games in his first year and he was placed on injured reserve.

In 2016, he fumbled away a kickoff return on the first play of the preseason opener and finished with only two catches for 22 yards in four games.

Bell spent some time on the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad. But when he was released by the Broncos after an injury last August, it looked as if his football career was done.

But then came the Alliance of American Football, and Bell got another chance with the Salt Lake Stallions. He made his AAF debut Sunday and had no catches on three targets as his team lost 38-22 to the Arizona Hotshots.

But for Bell, the all-time leader in receiving yards for the Cornhuskers, the game meant everything.

On Twitter after the game, he said this:

“Words don’t do justice to the overwhelming amount of appreciation I am feeling. Tonight was the first time I got to play football in a real game in over four years. It certainly was not the outcome I wanted for my team but it would be shameful of me not to acknowledge the unbelievable amount of love and support I have received throughout the day and night. To any and all fans: I appreciate you! Your words of support throughout the years are truly appreciated. To my friends & family: Thank you from the deepest part of my heart. It’s been a brutal four years chasing this dream and tonight you all blessed me with the greatest feeling of love and support one could ask for.”

Bell is not the only former Bucs receiver trying to revitalize his career in the AAF. The list includes Donteea Dye, Josh Huff, Freddie Martino and Kaelin Clay. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a very good week, combining for two catches for seven yards in Week 1.

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