“I want to confirm that Le’Veon Bell did not sign his Franchise Tender today and, as a result, he will not be eligible to play football during the 2018 season,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert.

That just about sums it up, right? Pittsburgh Steelers Le’Veon Bell, an All-Pro running back will not play this season. And it’s basically all his fault. Why? Because he chose to reject the Steelers contract offers and chose (there’s the key word) not to play on the Franchise Tag of $14.5 million.

And while there are many fans and media who feel like Bell’s so-called holdout (If that’s what you want to call it) was justifiable (and they are entitled to their opinions) I don’t agree with his stance and I think he and his talkative agent Adisa Bakari ruined a great opportunity this season to play for a Super Bowl contender that’s currently 6-2-1 and are in first place in the AFC North Division. And if the season ended today (like Bell’s season did), the Steelers would be the #2 seed.

I can’t recall a player holding out the entire season on a contending team, that’s a first. But I do remember the last NFL player to hold out for an entire season, and it was DT Sean Gilbert, who didn’t want to sign the franchise tag ($3.4 million in 1997) that the Washington Redskins offered him. So, he sat out that season and when the Redskins tried to offer a one-year deal, he objected and asked for arbitration saying the Redskins did not have the right to place their franchise player tag on him for a second straight year. On March 17, 1998, the NFLPA and the NFL had an all- day hearing to resolve the case by allowing him to sign with the Carolina Panthers. I thought he was insane, just as I think Bell is now, but at least Gilbert had a legal plan.

I respect most of those holdouts because they ended up getting things settled and the players are on the field, plus these players were still under contract. Bell on the other hand, is not. He chose not to sign the Tag and was basically free to report whenever he wanted to, but the point is, he didn’t. He made promises to report before Week 1, Week 7, and Week 10 and didn’t. He didn’t communicate with Steelers owner Art Rooney II, Colbert or Head Coach Mike Tomlin and barely communicated with his team, except for occasional encouraging words with his replacement, RB James Conner.

Steelers running back James Conner had 107 rushing yards; 56 yards receiving including one touchdown in the 23-16 win against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 4, 2018. (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)

I have a problem with that. It makes Bell look very irresponsible, unprofessional and (as I stated in a previous article), very selfish. And it honestly doesn’t seem like he could care less about what the Steelers, the fans or the NFL thinks of him. And that’s pathetic.

Bell and his agent think that what he’s doing is the right thing because the Steelers didn’t offer him fair contracts. In fact, Bell called the Steelers offer of $70 million over 5 years ‘Monopoly money.’ And was upset that the Steelers didn’t give him the same signing bonus as the Rams did Todd Gurley. Which is why he didn’t report before Week 1, like he said he would. He also said that he was concerned about his workload and the Steelers ‘running him into the ground’, especially after what happened to the Seahawks Thomas. Like I said, pathetic.

Injuries are unpleasant, but they are a part of the game. You never plan to be injured andpreserving your body isn’t going to make things better. That’s why NFL teams have training camps mini-camps and the preseason and get this…trainers. They go to college and are paid to help a player prepare for the season. But Bell feels like he can train himself and still be ready if he reported? Hogwash. Bell’s not in game shape and would’ve probably needed 4 weeks to be ready. Contending teams don’t need that type of distraction.

Bell also wants to be a trend-setter for other RBs, so they can get their money. Funny thing is, I don’t hear any other RB getting inspired by all this. And someone mentioned that he’s trying to be like MLB’s Curt Flood when he fought for free agency to the point that he appealed to the Supreme Court. Give me a break. What Bell is doing, isn’t close to what Flood fought for.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (26) runs toward the end zone as he tries to score a touchdown in front of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, in Baltimore. Bell injured himself on the play and left the game. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

To be honest, I don’t think Bell knows what he wants and he’s either making bad decisions or getting bad advice from his agent. If he did, he would (in my opinion) just take the $14.5 million franchise tag for this season, play for another All-Pro season, contend for a Super Bowl and pursue free agency…you know, the correct way. Instead, he walks away from $14.5 million and sits out the season. Why? Because he can. But doing what you can doesn’t always make you right.

And for those who want to make this a racial issue? Give it up and stop making everything ‘black and white.’

Make no mistake, some other NFL team will eventually pay Bell what he wants. But they must be wondering: If he did this to the Steelers, will he do it to them as well when he hits free agency again?

Time will tell. And that’s something Bell truly has since he’s not on the field.

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

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