The timing wasn’t great for Le’Veon Bell to be talking about his contract status going into next season. While some would argue the question was out of line, others would disagree and say Bell should have taken a “no comment” stance on the entire situation.
Nonetheless, Bell was contrite and honest in his response, but it caused quite a stir when he told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN he would contemplate sitting out a year, or retiring, if the Steelers decided to place the exclusive rights franchise tag on him for the second straight season.
After these comments hit the media wire, they spread like wildfire throughout the NFL landscape, but also throughout Steelers Nation. Fans were confused, as to why he would talk about this just days before the Jaguars come to town for a Divisional Playoff game, and frustrated with the thought of not having Bell on the team for the long-term, not to suggest the Steelers and Bell couldn’t reach a long-term deal this offseason.
Regardless, Bell had to smell the smoke coming from the media fire, and he took to Twitter to clarify his comments.
I’m trying to win a super bowl...I can care less about what happens after this season...my biggest thing I’m focused on is this team I’m on right now, playing for/with my brothers, & bringing back a 7th ring! what happens next year is irrelevant to my goals— Le'Veon Bell (@L_Bell26) January 11, 2018
Some might suggest if Bell would have just said this when asked initially about his contract, this would be a non-story — and they would be right. At the same time, Fowler himself felt the need to also share a bit as to what was said, and how it was said, in the Steelers’ locker room.
To be clear...I broached the franchise tag subject with Bell, he wasn't looking to make any grand statements, was just giving honest insight. Mentioned Super Bowl goal multiple times. https://t.co/j7IDv740LZ— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) January 11, 2018
Maybe a bit of dramatization going on with Fowler, who, after all, is employed by one of the biggest companies which benefits greatly from drama and the aftermath of it.
The day after, one tweet from guard Ramon Foster gave some great insight into how this team is going to respond to articles/news like this.
@L_Bell26 they will never divide us bro.— Ramon Foster (@RamonFoster) January 12, 2018
The Steelers have always thrived on the ‘us against the world’ mantra, and this would certainly be the case throughout the 2017 season. When things went wrong off the field, the team focused, and rallied, on the field. The hope is the team continues to follow this trend by putting a winning performance on the field vs. the Jaguars Sunday and advancing to the AFC Championship game for the second straight season.