Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.
If you believe this age-old saying, then every Pittsburgh Steelers fan should be full of shame. After all, haven't we heard this from Le'Veon Bell before?
"I'm gonna serve my three-game suspension. That's what I got. I've already apologized to my teammates, my coaches, Steeler Nation. I'm sincerely sorry about everything I've put everybody through. It's been a frustrating run. I own up to everything. It's all my fault. I can't blame nobody else for that, so I'm just gonna serve my suspension and move on from there."
Those were the words spoken by the All-Pro running back to the media after Saturday's practice at the Rooney UPMC Sports Complex, and it is eerily similar to what was said after Bell's run-in with the law after his joy ride with former Steelers running back LeGarrette Blount leading into the 2014 season.
Bell was dealt a 3-game suspension, which was reduced to 2-games in 2015, and recently got his 4-game suspension reduced to 3-games in 2016.
I'm not going to lie. When I saw Bell's suspension was reduced, I was happy. Happy that Bell would be on the field for a huge AFC matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4, excited the NFL shield was tarnished throughout the proceedings and excited in the likelihood of Bell remaining with the Steelers after the 2016 season.
However, the more I thought about his comments above, the more my mood went from excitement to frustration.
Bell will say all the right things, sing the song and dance the dance, but what proof do we have in regards to him staying away from actions which are not just detrimental to him as an individual, but to the team as well?
"I'm just going to let people say what they want to say," Bell told Dustin Dopirak of DKPittsburghSports.com. "The people who know me know who I am. ... The people who say I smoke weed, that's fine. Everybody can be entitled to their own opinion and think what they want. But the people who know me know the type of person I am."
What exactly are we supposed to think Le'Veon? Shortly after news broke of your suspension being reduced, you posted a video on your verified Instagram account apologizing to fans, and in this video you said you hadn't smoked since December of 2014. That's all well and good, but wait, this was after your were busted with a DUI for driving while under the influence of marijuana in August of 2014. So, when you apologized then, and said you were a changed man, what exactly does that say to the organization and fans?
What it tells me, is it means nothing. If you want to see the video, you are too late. It was deleted shortly after realizing the mistake he made.
What it tells fans is that words are fleeting. Nothing but genuine lip service. Every word taken from Bell's mouth should be taken with a grain of salt.
"I think this is going to help me be a better person," he said. "Be a better player, obviously be smarter moving on. It's definitely a learning experience. Like I said, I'm not the perfect person. I didn't do everything right. I didn't do everything wrong either. It's going to be a learning experience for me. Obviously, it sucks to keep having to miss time. I know everybody wants to see me play. I obviously want to play football and be out there with my teammates and help the Steelers win the Super Bowl and win games. Obviously, I have to learn from this and move on."
Yes, moving on...there lies the true rub. If Bell's actions since being arrested in August of 2014 have shown the Steelers organization, and fans everywhere, anything, it would be to let his actions be the true test of his character. So far, it doesn't speak highly of the young man; however, he will have a chance to prove himself worthy of a big money, long-term deal, not by what he says, but by what he does -- or doesn't do.
Despite my frustration, I am rooting for Bell. Call me a glutton for punishment, but there is something endearing about the kid who grew up rooting for the Steelers getting a chance to fulfill his dream. Call me a fool for thinking, and hoping, he can finally get his life together, but I am rooting for him.
Let's just hope I'm not writing another article similar to this anytime soon...