The Pittsburgh Steelers' frustration towards Le’Veon Bell's extended holdout, which has been kept in-house, finally spilt out into the media. On Wednesday, a number of Steelers players came forward, providing their honest perspective on the Bell situation that has yet to be resolved with their first regular season game rapidly approaching. Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster believes that the star running back’s decision to sit out games unless he gets a new contract within his asking price proves that he "doesn’t give a damn."
"What do you do? Here’s a guy who doesn’t give a damn, I guess, so we’ll treat it as such." Foster told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "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." Maurkice Pouncey called him a "little selfish," and suggests that he should “go ahead and miss 10 games,” instead of leaving the team in limbo on a week-by-week basis.
Another player, who is referred to as a "veteran" by ESPN, bluntly put it, "He f***ed us."
What seems to be lost in the comments made by these players is criticisms aimed at the organization for how they allowed this financial dispute to get as far as it has. But why would they publicly bash the people who are signing their checks, right? A recurring theme in these remarks is pointing out how Le’Veon would make $14.5 million by signing the one-year franchise tag being offered to him by the team. What is being easily overlooked is that Bell is being attacked for not biting the bullet and signing the franchise tag after doing that exact same thing last year.
Why shouldn’t Bell do everything in his power to secure a long-term deal when he needed to undergo surgery to repair damage to his PCL and MCL less than three years ago? Why should Bell let the Steelers put off his contract extension for a second consecutive year and risk the possibility of sustaining a career-ending injury?
Bell posted career highs in rushes (321) and receptions (85) last year. He’s a valuable part of the Steelers’ success, so why isn’t the organization meeting his reported demands of $17 million per year, the same annual figure being given to their star wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Maybe the pressure from his teammates will get Bell to sign on the dotted line. But what happens if Le’Veon suffers a serious injury this season, and the Steelers decide to let him walk at the end of the year because they played their cards right. Will these same players who are criticizing Bell open up their checkbooks, and help him recoup the money he lost?
Every NFL team shares this idea of a brotherhood, but every now and then, someone needs to be a little selfish and look out for their best interests.