The key to the franchise. A certain amount of pressure comes with such a description. Recently, CBSSports.com's Jason La Confora selected who he thought was the key to each of the 32 NFL franchises. When it came to the Pittsburgh Steelers, he felt it was Le'Veon Bell who was the straw who stirs the franchise's drink.
Take a look at why La Confora selected Bell to be the key to the franchise:
Le'Veon Bell, RB:
Bell makes the Steelers go, as his absence from their playoff loss to Baltimore indicated, and he starts this season serving a one-game suspension. That game, against reigning champs New England, could be the difference between making the playoffs and not doing so in such a hotly-competitive league. And Bell, I am sure, will be devoted to making up for lost time once he's back. His amazing ball-catching skills force defenses to compensate and opens up so much for the bevy of weapons outside as well. I almost went with rookie defensive coordinator Keith Butler, who takes over for legend Dick LeBeau, but I think this team will go as Bell goes. If he stays healthy and out of trouble, the Steelers might have the best offense in the game.
First, let's pretend La Confora actually got the duration of Bell's suspension correct. He is suspended for three games, and not a one-game suspension as stated in La Confora's article. After the minor blunder, La Canfora makes an impressive argument for Bell in regard to his importance to the Steelers. His versatility to both run the football in between the tackles and outside combined with his incredible pass catching skills makes him one of the best, if not the best, all around running backs in the league. Not to mention we all saw what the offense looked like without Bell in the playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens last season.
As much as I agree with La Confora's stance on Bell, it is difficult to discredit players like Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown and what they mean to the team and the franchise. Roethlisberger has gotten the Steelers to three Super Bowls and won two of them. Antonio Brown is arguably the best wide receiver in the game, and without him the receiving corps doesn't look nearly as scary.
When you have this much talent on a team, this is a fun discussion to have. Other NFL franchises would kill to have this type of discussion regarding franchise players who do so much for the organization. Nonetheless, do you agree with La Confora, or would you have selected someone else as the 'key to the franchise'? Inquiring minds want to know.