For an organization as tight-lipped as the Pittsburgh Steelers, it surprises me when someone like Kevin Colbert, General Manager of the team, comes out and makes a statement about a player who is holding out, like he did recently with Le’Veon Bell.
If you didn’t hear, or read, what Colbert had to say, this is what he told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“My feeling is there’s nothing to be gained by a holdout,’’ Colbert told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The situation won’t change, it can’t really change from our part on a long-term deal.
“So it hurts him not to be here. It hurts him because he’s not working with his teammates, he’s not getting the conditioning work that he’s going to need to have a great 2017 season. And he’s not working with his teammates to get acclimated to the offense — every year it’s different.”
“Really, a holdout does not benefit him in any way,’’ Colbert added. “So, again, I hope that he sees the benefits of being here and comes in here sooner than later.”
To an extent, Colbert makes a convincing argument, one which many of the fans who root for the Steelers will absolutely cling to, if they haven’t already. However, there is another side to this story which is being ignored by many people. That side would be Bell’s side of the situation.
Is Bell missing time with his teammates? Yes.
Is he missing some of the teamwork and cohesion which develops over the month the team spends at Saint Vincent College? Absolutely.
However, is Bell going to be out of sync with the offense? Probably not.
Will Bell be out of shape when he reports to the team? No, just check his official Snapchat for visual evidence of this.
Is Bell benefiting himself by staying out of harms way, hence his holdout? No doubt.
Fans, the team and front office want Bell in training camp, that is obvious, but Bell is doing what is best for him. There is no one questioning whether he will report to the Steelers and eventually sign his franchise tag tender. He will report eventually, likely when the team leaves Saint Vincent and goes back to the South Side.
Bell is protecting his money maker, and that would be his body. By not showing up, he is ensuring he won’t have to endure the backs-on-backers drills, the running backs vs. linebackers drills and the pounding of a regular training camp. He is essentially waiting to take that physical toll when the games matter, and when he can prove his worth on a real stage — whether you agree or not.
Has Colbert spoken to Bell since his holdout?
“There’s nothing to talk about. We’re here, he’s not and quite honestly we’re not going to dwell on it or focus on it. There’s too many issues going on here that we have to provide our focus to. Obviously Le’Veon is a great player, we’d love to have him here. But when he’s not here we’re going to look at the other guys and give us an opportunity to figure out what kind of team we have without him.”
Colbert may not have spoken to him, but Mike Tomlin has said multiple times this preseason he has kept in contact with Bell, and to me, that is what matters. Bell isn’t a rookie, and knows the offense better than any other running back in training camp. The fact remains Bell will report to the Steelers. Will it be when they, the fans, organization and teammates, want him there? No, but he will show up and will likely be as dynamic as ever when he does report.
So, with that said, there are two sides to this story, but ultimately, will Colbert still have an axe to grind with Bell when he runs all over a team in the regular season and helps the team win?
Not a chance.
In the meantime, I suggest fans just relax with Bell’s situation, know he will report to the team, and the offense should have all capable bodies ready to go when they travel to the mistake by the lake in Week 1.