Le'Veon Bell Blew Off the Walkthrough Before the Jaguars Game

Leveon Bell

Pittsburgh Post-GazetteLe’Veon Bell … threatened to sit out the year if [the Steelers] put the franchise tag on him for the second time. That tag will be 20 percent higher than last year’s $12.12 million, so make it $14.57.

It’s probably an idle threat, but the Steelers have to be reaching a point where they ask, is he worth it? He turned down their offer last year of a contract that would have paid him more than $12 million on average per year and more than $30 million in the first two. The next highest-paid backs earn $8.5 million per year. His agent wanted to take it, Bell did not. …

[Mike] Tomlin wants players and coaches to report to the locker room two hours before kickoff for games. That was continually ignored by both players and a coach or two.

Not only did Bell arrive much later than that for the playoff game against Jacksonville (as well as one coach), he missed practically the entire Saturday walk-through the day before, showing up about five minutes before practice ended.

If Le’Veon Bell wants to establish his bone fides as the Best Back in Football and get paid like it, he’s got a strange way of going about it. I might not be the world’s savviest businessman. And God knows that through all the careers I’ve had the one constant was I figured out the bare minimum work I needed to put in and then did exactly that. Until it was salary negotiation time. Then for that short stretch of time you turn into a model employee. You fake it. You actually show up on time. Shave before work. Put on that shirt that doesn’t have coffee stains. Sit there and pretend to listen in meetings instead of playing Words with Friends. Act like you give a dusty fuck. It’s not hard, because it’s only temporary. Then you can go right back to your life of quiet desperation and underachievement. It’s how the game is played.

If Le’Veon Bell can’t even be bothered to fake it in a contract year, what kind of player is he going to be once he cashes in? I get that Mike Tomlin is a lightweight “players coach” and they walk all over him. That act wears thin fast and he’s been there a long time. So naturally he’s going to get his best player Facebook Live-ing him in the locker room while he’s telling the team to watch the social media. Of course he’s going to have his team looking past the Jaguars because they’re so obsessed with the Patriots. Naturally they’re going to have confusion on the sidelines and the huddle and make one stupid decision after another that gets the coordinator fired. But when he can’t even get his bellcow running back to show up to the walkthrough the day before a playoff game while the guy is hoping to make more than $15 million a year, then the lack of respect for the coach and the organization is worse than I ever imagined.

I doubt this will end up costing Bell any money at all though. As the late, great Ron Meyer once said “In this business we’re all whores for talent,” and there’s probably not a purer talent at the running back position than Bell. But big picture, I’d be shocked if this doesn’t indicate deep, deep problems with the Steelers and the end of them as a championship contender. At least it was fun while it lasted.