ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Demetrius Bell is no longer trying to follow in the footsteps of his father -- basketball great Karl Malone -- after the two-sport college athlete was drafted by the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Nor does the swingman-turned-offensive lineman care whether "The Mailman" notices.

The two have been estranged for most of Bell's life. And Bell, who switched from basketball to football three years ago at Northwestern State University, doesn't expect that to change after he was selected with the 219th overall pick.

Isaac Brekken / Associated Press
Demetrius Bell, the estranged son of former Utah Jazz center Karl Malone, played basketball in college before switching to football.

"I wouldn't say it's disappointing. All of that's behind me now," Bell said when asked if it mattered that he couldn't share the achievement with Malone. "I feel good I made it this far. Nothing against him."

Bell, the son of Gloria Williams, was 18 when he first made contact with Malone, according to the notes provided by the NFL. At the time, Malone told Bell that, "It was too late for him to be his father and that Bell would 'earn his money on his own,'" the NFL notes said.

Malone could not be reached for comment. As for Bell, he's happy to have made it this far on his own.

"Nothing against him, but I feel good at this time. If he would've been there, yeah, it would've been good. But if not, it's even better," said Bell, also the half brother of WNBA Detroit Shock forward Cheryl Ford. "Everything's a plus right now."

Bell has bigger things on his mind now, especially catching up on the late start of a football career and making the Bills roster.

"Young at football, but willing to work hard," said Bell, who started all 22 games for the Demons over the past two seasons.

Bell also was a member of the Northwestern State basketball team that beat Iowa in the 2006 NCAA tournament.

"I have no doubt that I can make it," said Bell, who's listed at 6-foot-5 and 303 pounds. "I know that once I get there and get on a weight program ... I know I'll be all right."

Tom Modrak, Buffalo's assistant GM, said the Bills took a calculated gamble on Bell, believing he has the potential to develop into an NFL-caliber player based on his athleticism and well aware of his solid bloodline.

"In this case we're projecting a little bit deeper and a little bit farther," Modrak said. "We have to be patient and hope it comes sooner rather than later, but we know it's not going to be an instant start with him."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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