The “court,” or should I say the 2017 training camp of the Steelers is now in session and pre….tty soon one of the principal combatants may be placed on the witness stand to explain his own stand.
That person is none other than the Steelers running back/wide receiver extraordinaire, Le’Veon Bell. The Steelers, for whatever reason, did not abandon Bell during his past legal difficulties, but they did kick his ganja partaking partner-in-crime LeGarrette Blount to the “curb” where he was picked up by the New England Patriots’ “uber driver” and transported to a few Super Bowls, “hookah” and all. The ownership of the Pittsburgh Steelers Football Club as well as their head coach, Mike Tomlin, usually tries to correct a difficult situation with a player if possible. However, things don’t historically bode well for Steelers holdouts trying to jockey for position when in the midst of contract negotiations or players with selfish motives; just give former Steelers running back “fast” Willie Parker a “ringy dingy” and he will tell you that it did not work out so well for him. Parker was a large part of the Steelers’ Super Bowl XL victory. During that game, Parker had the longest running play from scrimmage in the history of the Super Bowl at that time. That singular play helped to ensure that the Steelers won their fifth Lombardi Trophy. Yet, when Parker became selfish complaining that he wasn’t getting enough carries, the response of Mike Tomlin, according to a January 30, 2009 article by Gerry Dulac of the Post-Gazette was: “Every morning I come to work, I walk past five Lombardi’s, not five rushing titles.” Parker lasted with the Steelers until April 2010, a little more than a year after his quest for more carries.
Most people are convinced that request may have unmasked me, me, me type of intentions by Mr. Parker. Think about it. During the year prior to his release, Parker had first-round draft pick, Rashard Mendenhall breathing down his neck. This year, Bell has third-round pick and local fan favorite James Conner breathing fire and brimstone in the collar area of Monsieur Le’Veon. If the Steelers released Parker, a proven Super Bowl winner even though he may not have had the skill set of Bell, well let’s just say this: no one is irreplaceable.
Is there a certain demeanor of greed emanating from the agent that represents Monsieur Bell or from one or more of the principals that may be part of his personal management team? With the “money ball” epidemic running rampant through the camps of both the owners and the players, I must make it perfectly clear that I am not for or against the owners or the players being adequately compensated for the services they provide for each other as well as for the public and the fans. However, Bell must understand that not attending training camp will by no means increase his value. No one can deny that Bell has been a crucial, maybe at times an almost irreplaceable component in the Steelers offensive success over the past few years. However, there have also been occasions that questionable behavior by Bell has resulted in league violations as well as criminal penalties that were levied against him. He also experienced untimely injuries that left the Steelers in an unenviable competitive position at crucial times during the postseason, including last year’s AFC Title Game against the Patriots. Being compensated $12 million-plus for a season’s work does not exactly amount to standing in the welfare line, and as great as he is, the Steelers have not hoisted a Lombardi Trophy over their heads during his short tenure with the team. Helping Pittsburgh win a seventh NFL championship will almost certainly increase his market value. I usually shy away from salary disputes because I am not the one that has to pay an athlete and I am not the athlete that has to put themselves at risk performing for their team. I humbly suggest that Bell forego any and all advice from those who are not playing the game for him because one thing is for certain and two things are for sure, Bell had better get home to camp before the “crack” of dusk as well as the 2017 NFL season.
Why? Simply because the Pittsburgh Steelers are the ones that have Bell’s “glass slipper” in their possession. How do I know? I am sure that they have the missing slipper because the last time that I checked, the prince had already left the building.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741.)