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Steelers News 7/20: Why Le’Veon Bell and Alejandro Villanueva should both be training camp holdouts

Fans always want their favorite players to just toe the line and do what we all want them to do, but there is a strong case to be made for both Bell and Villanueva to sit out camp for their own reasons.

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It is July, which means football is right around the corner. July 27th the Pittsburgh Steelers report to Latrobe, PA for another training camp. Although we still have a few weeks of the “dog days” of the NFL offseason, it doesn’t mean there isn’t news to still be discussed.

We take you around the world wide web to give you your daily dose of black and gold, along with making BTSC your one-stop-shop for all things Steelers.

Paul Zeise: Le'Veon Bell and Alejandro Villanueva should skip camp — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Le’Veon Bell didn’t get his long-term contract from the Steelers, and now there is speculation that he might skip training camp. Alejandro Villaneuva might be a no-show, too, as he has yet to sign his tender.

That’s actually the best Steelers news of the week in my opinion. Bell and Villaneuva should skip training camp. They should spend the next six weeks relaxing and staying healthy. They should be absent until the final week of the preseason, then report to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side and get ready for the opener.

To start, NFL training camp is a stupid idea that is no longer useful. There is nothing for any veteran to gain by going through it. It is the most overrated, unnecessary exercise that NFL teams do, well besides OTAs and minicamp. The same can probably be said for college and high school training camps but there is at least that whole “team bonding” stuff that goes on at those levels.

This isn’t the 1970s or ’80s, though, and teams can’t practice three times a day anymore. They can barely even get two real practices in one day, and now they all must minimize the amount of time they are in full pads. There is no reason for players to be stuck in a dormitory somewhere simply because that’s the way things have always been done.

Don’t get me wrong — it is great the Steelers go to Saint Vincent College for a month. It provides a little financial bump to Latrobe and the surrounding areas. It has helped Saint Vincent financially and has raised the profile of the school. It is one way the Steelers give back to the community.

It also is a big waste of time and money. The Steelers — and every team — could get ready for the season with just a couple of weeks of practice and a few film sessions.

That brings me back to Bell, who has yet to sign his franchise tender. He is currently under no obligation to go to training camp. There are some people around town who are actually upset about this. There are some who hate the idea of any player holding out as if going to training camp is some badge of honor.

Bell has nothing to gain and everything to lose by going to training camp. He has a history of getting injured. He doesn’t have a long-term contract. He owes nothing to the Steelers until the season begins.

He plays a position with average career of 3.1 years. Running backs are usually on the sharp decline after age 27. They only have so many days of practice and so many hits to absorb before their bodies begin to break down.

All of the rhetoric that comes from the coaches when a star player skips training camp is silly. Bell is maybe the Steelers’ best player. He could be a no-show until the Thursday before the first game and be in the starting lineup Sunday.

Mike Tomlin knows this. Kevin Colbert knows this. Art Rooney II knows this, too. The reality is the Steelers need Bell in order to win football games, and Bell still will earn $12.1 million this year.

Steelers, Saint Vincent will celebrate Dan Rooney at Mass during camp — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Late Steelers owner Dan Rooney strived to make it to Saint Vincent College every year for training camp.

In the first camp since his death, the Steelers and the college will hold a public mass to celebrate Rooney’s life.

Brother Norman W. Hipps, Saint Vincent College president, said there will be an open Mass at 11:30 a.m. July 30 for Rooney, who died April 13 in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have held training camp at Saint Vincent for more than 50 years.

Brother Norman said fans can take time to remember Rooney and his father, Art Rooney, the founder and original owner of the team, who died in 1988.

Rooney Rule is showing its age — Mike Florio — ProFootballTalk

In 2002, with the very real threat of litigation looming, the NFL addressed its abysmal minority hiring record by adopting the Rooney Rule. Fifteen years later, the rule named for the late Steelers chairman and Hall of Famer Dan Rooney is showing its age.

It started as a provision requiring at least one minority candidate to be interviewed for each head-coaching vacancy. It evolved to include General Managers and other high-level team executives. And it initially had razor-sharp teeth, with former Lions G.M. Matt Millen fined $500,000 for failure to comply with the rule when hiring coach Steve Mariucci, and with the league vigilant about closing loopholes, like the one the Cowboys exploited by conducting a perfunctory phone interview with Dennis Green before hiring Bill Parcells.

Now, it feels like the NFL is watching loopholes emerge, and shrugging at them. Apart from the curious failure of teams like the Jaguars and Chiefs to disclose the names of minority candidates interviewed to comply with the Rooney Rule earlier this year, the Panthers have now provided a clear blueprint for a stopgap, one-year G.M. hire that circumvents the Rooney Rule.

If a team decides after the draft (as teams sometimes do) to hire a new G.M. and the owner knows who he’ll hire, the owner can easily avoid an inclusive search by tapping the brakes until the eve of training camp, firing the G.M., and hiring the replacement on an “interim” basis. That’s quite possibly what Panthers owner Jerry Richardson did in bringing back Marty Hurney for a year; if so, it’s not like anyone will admit that.

Curiously, the Fritz Pollard Alliance has no issue with the league’s decision to allow the Panthers to hire a G.M. for an entire season without complying with the Rooney Rule. And it’s just the latest example of the group responsible for promoting the hiring of minorities getting along by going along instead of being a staunch and zealous defender of the letter and integrity of the Rooney Rule.

Whether because of improvements in minority hiring, a dramatically decreased threat of liability, or a national political climate arguably conducive to glossing over the seemingly clear requirements of hiring practices that promote diversity in an industry that hasn’t had nearly as much as it should over the decades, the rule that bears the name of Dan Rooney seems to be softening. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here.