“In the ultimate team sport, we’ve created a league of individuals.”

That quote came from Pittsburgh Steelers Guard Ramon Foster. And he wasn’t just describing the state of the National Football League or sports in general, but that quote was directed at his teammate, RB Le’Veon Bell as he continues to remain absent from his team. And don’t think Foster was being philosophical. In fact, he was pretty ticked off.

 

Allow me to explain. It’s no secret that the Steelers All-Pro RB hasn’t reported to the team because he is unhappy that he was issued the Franchise Tag for the 2nd year in a row. Granted, the Steelers have tried for 2 years to sign him to a long-term deal, and even had deals on the table, and both times, Bell has turned them down. He made a pledge to not show up for Training Camp or the Preseason but like last year, he said he would report the week of his team’s first game of the Regular Season. It was even rumored that he would report on Labor Day, and then Wednesday, but Bell still hasn’t shown up.

Now it’s getting ridiculous and the Steelers are tired of it. Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said this: “We are disappointed Le’Veon Bell has not signed his franchise tender and rejoined his teammates.” Said Colbert on Monday. That tender of $14.5 million remains on the table because Bell hasn’t come to his senses. “Honestly it’s a little selfish. I’m kinda pissed right now. It sucks that he’s not here. we’ll move on as a team- “Said All-Pro Center Maurkise Pouncey. “I think we’re all disappointed. What’s the expression? We’re stuck with our foot in our mouth. We all thought he’d be here.”-Said Pro Bowl Guard David DeCastro. According to reports, Bell hasn’t reached out to any of his teammates and HC Mike Tomlin has also said he hasn’t heard from him.

Bell’s GM and teammates are ticked, and it doesn’t seem like he minds at all, or even cares. Why do I say that? Because I sum up Bell’s antics in one, heavy word: He’s selfish.

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.  (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Think about it. There’s no way a team player would act like this. I can understand the purpose of a holdout. Like a protest, a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something. In 1993, Dallas Cowboys RB Emmitt Smith held out the entire preseason and the 1st 2 games of the season before agreeing to a deal. Just recently, LA Rams DT Aaron Donald held out the preseason before agreeing to terms. But Khalil Mack didn’t agree to terms with the Oakland Raiders and was traded to the Chicago Bears where he got his deal. Seattle Seahawks S Earl Thomas ended his holdout after missing the preseason.

Even the Steelers have some history with holdouts. The most famous one was in 1984 when Franco Harris held out for more money, and when he wouldn’t sign their offer, they cut him, and he finished his career with the Seahawks. In 1988, LB Mike Merriweather held out the entire season and was traded to Minnesota the following year.  In 1989, rookie TE Eric Green held out until after the first 2 games of the season before signing. In 1993, Barry Foster held out all preseason before agreeing to a deal in September. WR Hines Ward held out for 2 weeks, and fellow WR Antonio Brown threatened to hold out before changing his mind. Apparently, he’s the one with the most sense, because he eventually got his monies. 

But I feel that there’s no purpose for why Bell isn’t with the Steelers. In my opinion, this isn’t a holdout, it’s a selfish act that’s now causing division between him and his teammates. Late Pastor Myles Munroe said it best “Where there’s no purpose, abuse is inevitable.” There’s no purpose in this.

Bell’s agent Adisa Bakari tried to give an explanation for Bell’s absence saying that he didn’t want the Steelers to grind him into the dust this season. Excuse me? You’re a running back and you’re worried about being overworked? What in the name of Jerome Bettis is his problem? Bell has not only been one of the best running backs in the NFL over the years, but also one of the best receivers with 85 catches last season. He also had over 800 yards receiving in 2014. He had 1,261 rushing yards last season. 

So, instead of reporting to the Steelers, signing his tender and having a meeting to discuss his workload, he doesn’t report and speaks through his agent. You’re a real man, Le’Veon. Then he Tweets that 2018 is going to be his best year yet? Now he’s selfish and crazy.

It remains to be seen if Bell finally reports in the next few days, and it’s possible that be might, but how he’s handled this whole situation was very unprofessional and inconsiderate. Like Merriweather and Everett’s holdouts, it’s also possible that Bell may not show up at all, or at least until Week 10. He’s trying to prove that he’s in the driver’s seat and all he’s doing is driving his teammates crazy.

It’s clearly obvious that this is Bell’s last season, but now he’s starting to burn bridges with his organization and teammates with his antics. When he eventually gets his contract, with whatever team he ends up with, hopefully he’ll eventually ask himself was it worth it. 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

 

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