When it was reported earlier this month by Jeremy Fowler, a Steelers beat writer for ESPN, that running back Le’Veon Bell, who actually spoke with Fowler for a story that was published on ESPN.com, would likely be reporting to the team during the bye week, that made perfect sense.
I realize that not much has made sense with Bell and his contract saga with the Steelers that has seemingly gone on longer than any of No. 26’s runs from scrimmage in recent years, but when you thought about it, it did.
If you’re Bell, and you miss football as much as you claimed in Fowler’s piece, why wouldn’t you want to come back the week of the bye? If your relationship with most of your teammates was as great as you claimed, why wouldn’t you want to come back the week of the bye—if not for yourself, at least for them? If you seriously wanted to get ready for the Week 8 match-up with the Browns at Heinz Field, really, why wouldn’t you want to come back the week of the bye?
If you were sincerely still holding out hope on ultimately reaching an agreement on a long-term deal with the team that picked you in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, why wouldn’t you want to come back the week of the bye?
It just made sense from every possible angle that Bell would report to the Steelers last week.
We’ve all been in awkward situations, where the air had to be cleared by just facing the music with people—friends, family, co-workers, etc.—who you had a bit of a falling out with. And, make no mistake about it, some of Bell’s teammates, especially his very vocal offensive linemen, weren’t too happy about his decision to not report in time for the Week 1 match-up with the Browns. And for every player who was vocally critical of Bell, it’s safe to assume there were at least a few who seethed in silence.
Why wouldn’t Bell want to make nice with those guys, and do so as early as possible? Think about it, you come in on Monday, mend some fences, set some records straight, attend a few meetings, and take Tuesday, the team’s day off, to decompress from what figured to be an emotionally trying first day back to work.
When you come back to work on Wednesday, everything is a little closer to normal—you feel more comfortable with the guys, they feel more comfortable with you.
Then there’s the matter of your head coach, who you haven’t really spoken with in ages, and your general manager, who, like your teammates, publicly expressed disappointment with your decision. Why wouldn’t you want an extra week to get back into their good graces?
Speaking of coaches, what about the new offensive coordinator? After missing OTAs, mini-camp and training camp, it just seemed obvious that Bell would want to take an extra week to learn whatever new wrinkles Coach Randy had installed into the playbook.
Then there’s the matter of the $855,000 check Bell would have been eligible to collect the second he signed the franchise tag—all for spending Monday and Wednesday making nice, mending fences, learning Coach Randy’s wrinkles and preparing for the Browns.
Then, thanks to that bye week, it’s a long weekend, where you’re not only free to do whatever you like, you’re now likely past any hard feelings you may have had for your employer and co-workers—and vice versa.
Yes, everything described in this article makes perfect sense, which is why it didn’t happen.
So, when will Bell report to the Steelers? This week, with only a few days to get ready for the Browns, make nice with his teammates and coaches, and learn Coach Randy’s wrinkles?
That makes no sense, which is why you can expect Bell to report this week.