Steelers All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell was back on the practice field Tuesday for Day 1 of OTAs, and he had (and will apparently continue to carry) a huge chip on his shoulder, thanks to the way his 2015 ended, following a tackle and then questionable celebration by Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict last November 1 at Heinz Field.
Bell was lost for the season with a torn MCL, and now he's returned with extra motivation. Le'Veon, do yourself a favor, instead of a chip on your shoulder, how about a brace for the knee? I mean, even if you do have a chip, you and I both know Burfict will try and take it off of your shoulder and use it to maim you.
I can see Bell's frustration, though. Not only was he lost for the rest of 2015 at the hands of the Bengals, he missed the wildcard game vs. the Ravens following the 2014 season after suffering a hyper-extended knee against Cincinnati in Week 17.
If Bell can come back next year and do his thing to the tune of about 2,000 yards from scrimmage, not only might he exact revenge on the cat birds, he'll certainly be pivotal to a memorable Super Bowl-run.
Of course, Bell isn't the only Steeler currently playing with a chip.
A player who isn't really a Steeler yet (not until he carries a veteran's shoulder pads during training camp this summer, anyway), but who will have a massive chip on his shoulder this spring, summer and probably fall, is sixth round pick Travis Feeney, an athletically gifted linebacker out of Washington. Feeney is peeved because he lasted so long in the recently concluded 2016 NFL Draft, and he's going to make teams regret that they passed on him.
Is he going to make the Steelers regret it, too? After all, they passed on him like four times before finally deciding to take him. The main reason Feeney, who made the transition from safety to outside linebacker early in his college career, slid so far in the draft was because of his size, namely his weight (230 lbs). For an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, that's pretty light, so, in-addition to a massive chip of determination, perhaps Feeney will place some chocolate chips under his shoulder pads and eat them throughout training camp.
You can google any number of Steelers players, both past and present, and find stories of them playing with chips on their shoulders.
Take James Harrison, for example. As Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pointed out three years ago in a radio interview with 93.7 The Fan, Harrison, who was then a member of the Bengals and about to face his old team in a Week 2 match-up at Paul Brown Stadium, always plays better with a huge chip on his shoulder.
Of course Harrison plays with a chip. Has the 2002 UDFA out of Kent State ever not played with one? And since No. 92 has an insane workout regimen, there's no doubt his chip is made of solid steel and weighs 521 pounds.
Did the phrase "chip on his shoulder" exist in the 1970s? If it did, Jack Lambert surely played with one. When he wasn't telling the veterans to kiss his bleep when they wanted him to sing his alma mater's fight song during his rookie training camp, Pittsburgh's second round pick in the 1974 NFL Draft was telling Lynn Swann (that year's first round pick) that he should have gone first and Swanny should have gone second.
Has Ben Roethlisberger ever had a chip on his shoulder? In this USAToday story from 2010, it was pointed out that No. 7 wouldn't be returning from a four-game suspension with a chip on his shoulder. It's a good thing, too; he may have injured it.
Seriously, though, what about Troy Polamalu? Do you think Polamalu, the eight-time Pro Bowl, four-time All-Pro safety who was voted The 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and will one day wind up enshrined in Canton, Ohio, ever played with a chip on his shoulder during his 12-year career? If you were to ask him, he'd probably say, "No, I'm too horrible at safety to play with a chip."
But the humble Polamalu was the exception.
What about Hines Ward? Of course he played with a chip. Nobody thought a third round receiver out of a small school like Georgia from a little known conference such as the SEC would ever go on to catch 1,000 career passes, be voted Super Bowl MVP and win Dancing With the Stars.
Obviously, the idea of professional athletes playing with extra motivation to prove themselves to others is nothing new.
I'm sure we've only just begun to hear stories of Steelers players going to work with massive chips on their shoulders in 2016.
Do you think Artie Burns has a chip on his shoulder? If he read all the post-draft outrage over his selection in the first round, his chip will probably weigh him down and prevent him from excelling at man-to-man.
What about kicker Shaun Suisham? He may have a chip after Chris Boswell did so well in Suisham's year-long absence from a torn ACL. If that's the case, I hope Suisham takes his chip off before attempting a kick, as studies have shown they reduce accuracy by up to 10 percent.
You know Antonio Brown will have a chip on his shoulder next season. Not only was he knocked out of the divisional round after receiving a vicious blow to the head by Burfict near the end of the wildcard game on January 9; he only caught 136 passes last year, and he wants to prove to people that he is capable of 137.
Whatever works, fellas. Hey, Antonio, look at this story from February written by Ryan Wooden of the site Today's Pigskin that ranks Julio Jones as the top receiver in the NFL.
Put that chip on your shoulder and go to work.