As a fan, I was holding off writing about Le’Veon Bell for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I am a rabid Pittsburgh Steelers fan and wanted to see how things played out. Second, it is not like it hasn’t been played out in the media a lot, but I think now may the time to talk about it. At least it is for me since there are a scant few days before their first game against the Cleveland Browns. Let’s take a look inside the Le’Veon Bell contract dispute from all sides and see what we can figure out.
Inside the Le’Veon Bell Contract Dispute; For Whom Does the Bell Toll?
Every Player Need to Be Paid
The first thing that everyone says when money contract negotiation comes up is. Bell is the best in the league, pay the man and move on. Sure, I have been one of the ones to say it. However, you can’t give the entire payroll pie to one man. There has to be a point of agreement, this isn’t the first time this has gone into the season. Yes, Bell is an amazing talent on the field. However, if he doesn’t agree to a contract, he will never be on the field and his talent will be wasted. The Steelers made him what many in the know thought was a generous offer. But in the end, he turned it down. Once he starts missing games, that can’t make the contract offer go higher. One would think the Steelers would then offer less, thus making the holdout worthless.
The Fans Don’t All Agree
The only thing the Steeler fans are in agreement on about Bell is that they are completely frustrated with how this is going. Or should I say not going? The bottom line is the fans want him on the field because he adds great depth and skill. There have been many games when his effort was surely a tipping point in a close game. However, there are also many a fan who at this point are getting fed up. Even enough to say maybe we should just trade him. This is a sad state for a player who is such a fan favorite for his play on the field.
The Tension is Now Effecting the Locker Room
It was inevitable, other players are losing patience with Bell. I mean who wouldn’t or hasn’t gotten mad at that one co-worker? The one who is always late or doesn’t do their job in full. You feel resentful, it brings the mood of the others down. Players are starting to comment more and more on their level of frustration at the Bell situation. A room full of disgruntled players is not going to play as well as a totally unified team. This is another reason why some say the Steelers may simply have to bite the bullet and cut Bell. While most fans don’t like the idea of seeing him in any other colors but black and gold, if he doesn’t suit up how is he helping the team?
The Team Needs Full Practice Time
There is a reason that the football year is the way it is. There needs to be drills and practice and preseason games to work the rust off of a team. Even if Bell had shown up today and set here we go, he would be completely out of practice. He wouldn’t know all the plays, the signals. These things change and need to run through practice. Anyone who says he is good enough that he doesn’t need practice. Just needs to look at his play the first few games after the last time this happened. He didn’t fully get into gear until the fourth to fifth week. Again, this is also unfair to all the other players who show up wanting to win and do all their reps.
What Does he Really Want?
At first, it was, he wants to be paid for what he is worth, well sure we all do. But even us lowly 40 hours a week people aren’t always paid what they deserve. His agent’s latest statement is now he doesn’t want to show up because he is afraid that the Steelers will run him into the ground. This makes a lot of people laugh. One of the best men to ever wear a Steelers jersey left the team for the opposite reason. James Harrison wanted more playtime. Now Bell says he doesn’t want to play too much. Which asks the question, who is he saving himself for. In his mind is he already on another team next year?
This is a reoccurring problem with the same man, his talent can’t excuse his behavior forever. The Steelers have always been a family feel kind of team, this child needs to go to bed without dinner. Even if he makes himself available, why should he have the chance to start while there are other talented players who are more than willing to take up the slack? There is nothing better to fans than our best players playing out their entire career and retiring with that same team.
But there are also players who play because they love the game. They are willing to sacrifice or even cut their contracts to make room in the salary cap. If a player doesn’t have or maybe has lost that spark of wanting to play and is more focused on money. Even if it is hurting team morale and chances of winning. Perhaps it is better to sit down, behind closed doors and come up with a mutual, respectful farewell.
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