Sunday was a dark one for Seahawks safety Earl Thomas after he landed awkwardly on his left leg and left the game on a cart. It ended up being a fracture, and Thomas will be fully healed by the Super Bowl and his own free agency. But the severity of the injury took a backseat to the bird he appeared to flip to his own sideline as he was being carted off. Now Steelers holdout Le'Veon Bell has entered the fray as a martyr to the cause.
Because the Seahawks refused to extend an offer to Thomas, who is 29 and entering the final year of his contract, he sat out the preseason and skipped practices, and paid the requisite fines for doing so. Never one to shy away from his beliefs, the thinking seems to be that Thomas is entering the twilight stage of his NFL career, and every hit counts. The decision has made headlines with Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell mimicking some the same talking points for why he's holding out.
In the comments of the above ESPN Instagram post when Thomas' teammate, Bobby Wagner, explained the hypocrisy inherent to a violent sport that doesn't offer much in the way of guaranteed money, Bell agreed wholeheartedly and explained how he's become the bad guy for feeling the same way a lot of players do:
“Smh exactly…get right bro bro @earl! I’ll continue to be the ‘bad guy’ for ALL of us.”
Bell continues to hold out, and he missed Pittsburgh's fourth straight game on Sunday, a 26-14 loss to the Ravens that dropped them to 1-2-1 through the season's first quarter. Pittsburgh is reportedly open to trade offers, and Bell has until Nov. 13 to report to the team or forfeit his right to be a free agent this summer.
With the NFL's payment structure stacked against them, is it any wonder players are increasingly speaking out about the league's unfair labor practices? Don't expect this to be the last angry middle finger we see as a player heads to the locker room with their future earning potential shrouded in doubt: