Tim Benz: Believe it or not, Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell should emulate Martavis Bryant
Even Martavis Bryant is in a good mood at the Steelers training facility this week. Smiling. Saying all the right things. Toeing the company line.
“We’re in the playoffs. I’m definitely happy,” Bryant said. “Our one goal is to win and be Super Bowl champions. Let’s go on a three-game winning streak.
“It’s exciting. I’m going to go out and have fun.”
Yes. That quote was from the same Martavis Bryant you are thinking of.
This week has yielded zero suspensions. No trade demands or complaints about touches on offense. No bar incidents. No flying water coolers or social media buzz. And God Bless America! Everyone is standing for the anthem.
Congratulations, Steelers! You’re finally about to go through an entire week — a playoff week, no less — with no off-the-field distracti….
Aw, come on! All right. Who did it? Who failed to knock on wood?
Via ESPN.com, running back Le’Veon Bell said “he’s prepared to sit out a season, or even retire, if franchise tagged for the second consecutive year.”
In the story, Bell was quoted as saying “I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I would definitely consider it.”
Bell went on to say: “I’m not going to settle for anything … I know what I do and what I bring to the table. I’m not going out here getting the ball 400 times if I’m not getting what I feel I’m valued at.”
A few days of tranquility are just too many for this team to handle, I guess. It’s as if someone told them: “You only get seasick when the waters are calm.”
So, Bell is rocking the boat.
First, it was skipping training camp during a contract dispute. Then, after the Jacksonville loss in Week 5, he called for the ball more.
Now, three days before a playoff rematch against Jacksonville, Bell is using this high-profile platform to lobby for a long-term contract.
For next year, mind you. Not for right now.
His other two challenges to Steelers coaches and management, I understood. No long-term contract equals no camp. OK, I get it.
And, yeah, he should have gotten more carries against the Jaguars in October. It’s not a player’s place to complain. But at least he was accurate.
But it’s simply not necessary to create this controversy now. No good will come as a result.
The reporter (ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler) had every right to ask the questions. Similarly, Bell should have every inclination to say: “It’s the playoffs. I’ll worry about my contract afterwards.”
Gladly taking that bait, as Bell did, does nothing but cast an appearance that he is primarily worried about himself at a time when lofty team goals have become attainable.
On game days and in practice, Bell always appears to be a consummate team player.
Yet when it comes to his marijuana suspensions and how he has handled these contract situations, he shows highly self-absorbed characteristics.
What did Bell think was going to happen? That he’d make these statements and a quaking Kevin Colbert would come scurrying down to the locker room with a pen, a contract and a blank check in his quivering hands?
It’s the playoffs. Wait a few weeks. What benefit is netted by going down this path now? If he wants to be a Steeler, doesn’t stuff like this make it less likely to happen? I’d think Colbert and Art Rooney II would be less willing to go through another mind-bending contract negotiation with Bell with this tone being set.
Before you say it, I get it. Bell probably doesn’t care where the money comes from. His quotes to ESPN.com make it obvious getting paid is more important than where he’s playing.
Bell has done nothing but thrive and win in Pittsburgh, though. The probability exists he would be coming back to a huddle with Antonio Brown, a sturdy offensive line, and (likely) Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback next season.
Bell is making it way too difficult on his current club to want to keep him. Straining a relationship with a fan base that has tried incredibly hard to forget every misstep he’s had is counterproductive. With every passing public hiccup Bell makes, I’d think the Steelers would be less inclined to pay what he demands.
I doubt this latest noise out of the Steelers locker room will have a direct impact Sunday. As we’ve discussed within the last week, drama like this has become second nature there.
Shortly after the story was posted, Bell tried to quell some negative reaction by tweeting: “I’m trying to win a Super Bowl…I can care less about what happens after this season.”
However, it’s just so much easier to button up and follow the steady, team-oriented example put forth by Martavis Bryant.
Did I really just write that?
Tim Benz hosts the Steelers pregame show on WDVE and ESPN Pittsburgh. He is a regular host/contributor on KDKA-TV and 105.9 FM.