Life in the National Football League opens up players and teams for criticism from all directions. Essentially, anyone with a website, social media account or a voice chimes in regarding the news surrounding all things NFL.
This certainly has been the case when someone brings up the contract situation between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Le’Veon Bell.
Fans love to shout how Bell should be a team player, while former players talk about how Bell has to look out for himself, his future, his family and his overall well-being. Either way, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but their opinion doesn’t mean a thing unless they have some type of inside information.
This is where Ike Taylor comes in. Taylor, who retired in 2015 on the heels of his teammate and best friend Troy Polamalu, still remains close to the organization. Taylor spent last preseason as a scouting intern with the team, and was present throughout training camp and the preseason.
In other words, he’s still very much connected to the team and the players. So, when he talks about what Bell is thinking and/or saying, I’m more inclined to listen compared to someone like Colin Cowherd or Stephen A. Smith.
After being dismissed by the NFL Network, it seems as if Taylor has found a home with CBS Sports, and of course he was recently asked about the contract situation that will come to a head by July 16th.
“This is a good and bad situation for Le’Veon,” Taylor said. “Good meaning everything is guaranteed with his franchise tag. Bad meaning you don’t know if you’re going to be a Pittsburgh Steeler for life, something I know Le’Veon wants to do. And I know the Rooneys also want to work that deal out with Le’Veon.
“On the other hand, I’m preserving my body as a running back. That’s how I’m looking at it. I’m missing training camp, you know I’m staying in shape, you know my physique, you know my body of work when I get on the field. That’s they way I’m looking at Le’Veon.
”Now, from a coaching standpoint and a teammate standpoint, I’m looking at it like, ‘Le’Veon, you’re the difference in the locker room, we love your camaraderie, you’ve got a different type of personality which we love, and we need you here.’
”But for Le’Veon, he has to make a business decision on a number in which he likes from the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
Taylor brings a unique perspective as both a member of the media and a former player, and he lays out the true crux of the situation between the two parties. Bell, although he wants to stay in Pittsburgh, has to look after himself and get the most money he feels he deserves. Meanwhile, the Steelers, who want Bell to stay in Pittsburgh, can’t sell the proverbial farm to keep him at his asking price.
Either way, this conundrum will be resolved soon enough. On July 16th, fans will finally know if it is Franchise Tag 2.0, or a new contract for Bell and his reporting to camp. Finality is on the horizon.