If fans had hoped to get some answers about what had really happened between Le’Veon Bell and Pittsburgh Steelers from his interview with Jenny Vrentas of Sports Illustrated, those who watched the full 25-minute conversation that was released on Wednesday were likely to have been bitterly disappointed.
Much like the much anticipated interview with Antonio Brown with Jeff Darlington of the ESPN a few weeks ago, the piece was simply a chance for the player to make a series of unsubstantiated and frankly ridiculous claims in the face of a reporter with no interest in talking about the truth.
Softball question after softball question encouraged Bell to spin his own tale of sadness, with the running back making the most of the opportunity to let the world know just how mean the Steelers had been to him during his time in Pittsburgh.
Despite repeated suggestions over the years that he would never play for the New York Jets, not even for $100 million, Bell did his best to convince Vrentas that they were actually the team he had wanted to play for all along. Citing the love the fans in New York had shown him ahead of his signing, as well as the level of respect he felt from head coach Adam Gase and GM Mike Maccagan, Bell left no doubt that he believed he had not been held in the same regard in Pittsburgh.
Ignore the tweet below, Bell must have been talking about a different Mike Tomlin.
"juice is in the building" love coach T to death, wouldn't wanna play for no other coach or play in any other city.. pic.twitter.com/VU3eO7qXFY— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) February 17, 2016
Blaming Ben Roethlisberger in part for his desire to leave, as well as the fans, Bell would go on to say - “They don’t treat you like a human” in Pittsburgh.
Initially claiming he had intended to play last season all along, Bell told Vrentas that it was the public comments of his teammates ahead of Week 1 that ultimately caused him to change his mind. Admitting that neither him nor his agent had any understanding of the actual rules that would dictate his status in 2019, Bell would acknowledge that “new information” around the bye week changed his mind about returning at all in 2018.
“That’s when I got to the point, if I don’t got to come back, then I’m not going to come back, unless I was literally feeling welcomed.”
Despite pointing out how much he did not like being in Pittsburgh, Bell would go on to claim that he would have reluctantly signed the Steelers deal last year if the team had guaranteed his salary in year-two. But while an article that accompanies the video written by Vrentas acknowledges that Pittsburgh never cut players in their second season who have signed contracts like the one offered to Bell, she strangely chose not to broach the subject with him during the interview.
Appearing visibly sad for the poor running back as he told his take of woe, Vrentas came across as more of a sympathetic parent listening to a child than a reporter interested in what really happened.
Optimistic that he has now found the right home with the Jets, Bell appears to believe that he will be more involved in game planning than he ever was with the Steelers, something he clearly wished he could have done in Pittsburgh.
For those that can stomach it, the full interview can be seen below. Hopefully, this is the last piece I will ever have to write about him.