clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Le’Veon Bell’s ultimate decision comes down to his bank account, and his Steelers legacy

I keep hearing Le’Veon Bell say he has the right to get every last penny he has coming to him, and you know what, he’s right!

NFL: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

“Where a man’s treasures lie, there will be his heart also.”

It really is that simple.

All of us make decisions everyday based on this principle, whether we realize it or not. Maybe our treasures make us selfless in nature. We think of others before we think of ourselves, such as putting your family or friends’ needs ahead of your own. Some of us may not have been blessed with such a support group, and therefore have to be more selfish in nature to survive. No matter which group we may belong to, all of our decisions are influenced by circumstances. The truth isn’t always in what we say, but is made evident in what we do. Actions speak louder than words!

Over the next few weeks NFL teams can bring in around 30 prospects for pre-draft visits. I wonder how many prospects when asked what they hope to have accomplished by the end of their initial contract will respond like this:

“I want to be by far the highest paid player at my position, setting the market for all the other current players and future players at my position. I will also expect you to bid against yourself in my contract negotiations because I will tell you what I am worth and how great I am. One more thing, if you don’t or can’t meet all my demands I won’t show up or I may just decide to retire. Now that we got all that out of the way who wants to see me hold my breath till I turn blue?”

No team would draft a player who answered like that. That would be ridiculous. They would deserve what ever headaches and drama came with that player. The Pittsburgh Steelers are now faced with that same decision.

I feel Le’Veon Bell is a victim of his own success, and not all of it is his fault. I believe he has received bad council. His advisers have went to great lengths to highlight his on field accomplishments and he has definitely believed his own press clippings. He has had smoke blown up his rear from every direction and from individuals who apparently don’t have his best interests at heart. Some have told him he doesn’t even need football, but can be a rap artist. I won’t go there because I definitely am not knowledgeable on the subject. He even had a well known actor say he could be a leading man candidate in a blockbuster movie. I believe the statement was a little tongue in cheek, but hopefully you catch my drift.

Every ex-NFL running back turned sportscaster or analyst has chimed in to give their ten cents on the subject, even if many are unqualified to do so. The only reason many of them have their jobs is because they are former players. If you don’t believe me on that subject, I give you Phil Simms and Cris Collinsworth as examples. I rest my case!

I actually heard Terrell Davis and LaDainian Tomlinson wondering why running backs aren’t paid as much as starting quarterbacks in the NFL. I couldn’t believe my ears. Simple supply and demand. How many running backs, many of them late round or even UDFA, end up leading their teams in rushing or at least being solid contributors on a championship team? Now how many players are capable of being a starting quarter back in the NFL, much less a Super Bowl winning quarterback? I will let you do the math.

I also believe Bell is being very short-sighted when it comes to his own legacy. All of us want to be remembered. To want to feel like our lives and accomplishments meant something long after we are gone. The only things that really have merit; that will stand the test of time, so to speak, are who we loved and who loved us. The lives we touched and impacted.

For a professional athlete there are prestigious awards and the Hall of Fame. But only a few players ever reach that level. However, many players are remembered fondly long after their playing days are over because they were part of a winning team. All of us cherish those special moments when our favorite player made a crucial play to help our team win the big game. We tell the story over and over again down through the years to anyone who will listen. As time goes by the players involved seem to grow bigger and faster with each recollection. These legends of Steeler lore are never forgotten as long as these stories are passed down from generation to generation. Steeler Nation remembers winners. Bell says he loves the team and the fans. He says he wants to bring another Lombardi Trophy back to Pittsburgh. Now is his chance to prove it. I don’t think any father will one day tell his son about that time when Bell really stuck it to the Steelers and got that max contract.

I am concerned by what I haven’t been hearing Bell say. I haven’t heard him talking about ways he could improve as a player next season to help the team win it all. Sounds like he feels he is pretty great already. The day you think you have arrived is many times the day you lose the hunger to improve. I haven’t heard him discuss ways for the team to meet his demands and still be able to shore up the massive hole on defense caused partly by Shazier’s injury, all while staying cap compliant. He doesn’t seem to be concerned with any of that, but he should be. There is no way the Steelers can have that much invested in their top three players without severely weakening the rest of their roster, especially their depth. It may not be apparent this season or the next, but you can rest assured it will affect their ability to be a Super Bowl contender in the short term, with a probable rebuild in the future. There are many in Steeler Nation who I fear won’t survive a complete rebuild.

There is no doubt Bell is a great player and I have always been a big fan, but no player is bigger than the team and their future success. Bell has to realize he didn’t achieve all his stats by himself. He is part of the team’s success. Bell just needs to decide what is more important to him. Max deal or fair deal and his Steeler legacy. The Steelers need to decide what they can actually afford to pay. The truth may be that they just can’t afford him!