In the middle of a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers, running back Le’Veon Bell missed his first game of the 2018 season due to an extended holdout. In his absence, the Steelers opened their season with a 21-21 tie in a game against the Cleveland Browns.
In response, Bell tweeted a monocle emoji:
While most fans assumed the emoji was Bell's way of throwing shade at his team, the running back sent a follow-up tweet in which he claimed he "just never witnessed a tie before."
There have been hundreds of tied games in the NFL's history—five since the league instituted a sudden death overtime in 2012—so Bell's explanation didn't satisfy everyone. His tweet also came in the wake of an over-the-top celebration by Steelers offensive lineman when Bell's backup James Conner scored a touchdown.
Many interpreted the unusually raucous celebration as a direct shot at Bell for holding out and choosing money over his teammates.
Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he believes the holdout means Bell just "doesn’t give a damn." Foster explained, "What do you do? Here’s a guy who doesn’t give a damn, I guess, so we’ll treat it as such. He’s making seven times what I make, twice as much as Al [Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva] is making, and we’re the guys who do it for him."
Bell sacrificed a first week paycheck of about $850,000 by skipping Pittsburgh's game with the Browns.