That kind of money is incentive enough to motivate Bell to drop from the 360 pounds he weighed when signing with the Cowboys in March to the 319 he weighs now.
But it was deeper than that for Bell, a Greenville native whose dad passed away of a heart attack at the age of 29, in part, because of excess weight.
“I needed to lose weight myself,” Bell said. “I got a lot of family history of big guys. My dad passed away when I was 5 and he was 29 with a heart attack. He was a heavy-set guy. I want to learn from him and use those life lessons.
Never miss a local story.
“I needed to lose weight anyway. I think this help my career and I feel better.”
Bell pulled a hamstring on the final day of mini-camp this week, but he should be ready for training camp in July.
This is the lightest Bell has been in his career, besting the previous low of 335.
He said he reached the desired weight by disciplining himself, watching what he ate and staying on his cardio. He also reduced his alcohol consumption and drank lots of water, not to mention eating lots of salads with chicken juice as the dressing.
“I would use the chicken juice, that would be my dressing for the salad,” Bell said. “That is what I was doing every day.”
There is no question the Cowboys’ decision to add a weight clause to his contract via incentives was the initial impetus. But it only helped sow a seed that was already growing his mind. His dad, Byron Matthew Bell, was a two-sport star in football and basketball at Texas A&M-Commerce. He was 6 foot 3, 285 pounds in college and became heavier after his playing career.
He was nicknamed “Big Blue” after Blue Bell Ice Cream, his son added with a smile.
“I heard the stories,” Bell said. “They said ‘Big Blue was the man.’ ”
His son lost weight with it all in mind.
“I would have done it without the bonus,” Bell said. “But once the deal was done, it was in the contract. I had no choice. It motivated me more. But like my family motivated me from a personal issue. There was a chain of things going on in my family. I think it’s going to help me out. My little brother has gained some weight. He saw I lost weight so he wants to lose weight. It’s helping us all.”
The lost weight could go a long way toward helping Bell realize a childhood dream of playing for the Cowboys. He is already enjoying going home to Greenville, just a few miles east of Dallas, and seeing his family.
He was signed as insurance because of his starting experience at tackle and guard from his days with the Carolina Panthers and Tennessee Titans.
He hopes to get a chance to compete for a starting spot in training camp or at least prove his worth as a valuable and versatile reserve.
“It’s good to be back home,” Bell said. “It’s always been my dream to play for the Cowboys. I’m here now. I just want to do my part to stay and compete. Wherever I fit in I fit in. I’m just here to earn a job.”
Dallas Cowboys 2017 schedule
Aug. 3 vs. Arizona (NBC)* 7 p.m.
Aug. 12 at Los Angeles Rams (NFL Network) 8 p.m.
Aug. 19 vs. Indianapolis (NFL Network) 6 p.m.
Aug. 26 vs. Oakland 7 p.m.
Aug. 31 at Houston 7 p.m.
* Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio
Sept. 10 vs. New York Giants (KXAS/5) 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 17 at Denver (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Arizona (ESPN) 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 1 vs. Los Angeles Rams (KDFW/4) Noon
Oct. 8 vs. Green Bay (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Oct. 15 Bye
Oct. 22 at San Francisco (KDFW/4) 3:05 p.m.
Oct. 29 at Washington (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Nov. 5 vs. Kansas City (KTVT 11) 3:25 p.m.
Nov. 12 at Atlanta (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Nov. 19 vs. Philadelphia (KXAS/5) 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 23 vs. L.A. Chargers (KTVT/11) 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 30 vs. Washington (KXAS/5) 7:25 p.m.
Dec. 10 at New York Giants (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Dec. 17 at Raiders (KXAS/5) 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 24 vs. Seattle (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Dec. 31 at Philadelphia (KDFW/4) Noon