Le'Veon Bell

USA Today

No Worry In Pittsburgh Over Le’Veon

The Steelers are not freaking out. And neither should you.

September 05, 2018 - 10:55 am

It’s Wednesday of Week 1. The season starts tomorrow night. The Pittsburgh Steelers open the season at Cleveland on Sunday at 1pm Eastern on CBS. And there’s still no sign of Le’Veon Bell. 

The guy who put up nearly 2,000 yards in 15 games last year has not been spotted. There was a team meeting this morning at 9am, that some expected him to attend, but he didn’t.  

Center Maurkice Pouncey had previously told ESPN: "He'll be here Wednesday. Count on it."

Well, if you were counting on it, you might want to stop. I mean, there’s still time left in the day, but so far, no Bell. 

And the amazing thing is that it’s not a bigger story. You have a star player, an absolute game-changer, one of the best in the league, he’s not happy with his contract, he hasn’t shown up to camp, and nobody there is freaking out.

That tells you everything you need to know about the Pittsburgh Steelers. Can you imagine what would be happening with any other team if the star player didn’t show for training camp and wasn’t there the week before the season opener?

Can you imagine any other team in the league handling this like that? Jon Gruden couldn’t wait to run off his best defensive player when he wanted more money. The Steelers, though don’t even blink when Bell isn’t happy with his deal. And doesn’t come in.

How would the Seahawks be reacting to no Russell Wilson? Would Saints fans be chilling if Alvin Kamara wasn’t there right now? What would the mood be like in New England if Tom Brady hadn’t shown up at this point?

Bill Belichick would be grinding his teeth to sawdust. Hell, people were freaking out months ago when there was talk that maybe, just maybe, Rob Gronkowski was reportedly possibly maybe potentially thinking about retiring. 

And yet Le’Veon Bell isn’t with the team 96 hours before kickoff and everyone in Pittsburgh is just going about their business. Nobody’s freaking out. Or if they are, they aren’t showing it. Look, maybe it’s because they love James Conner. Or maybe it’s because they still have Antonio Brown and Big Ben, or maybe it’s just because they’re the Steelers, they’re professionals, and they know how this goes. 

Mike Tomlin was asked yesterday if he expects Bell to report today. His answer: “I haven’t thought about it.” Like, who? Oh, him? Yeah, no, I haven’t really spent much time thinking about whether our All-Pro running back will come to work tomorrow.

And you know what? I believe him. 

Because Tomlin went on to say: "When he gets here, that's when we will start quantifying all Le'Veon Bell-related things, his overall readiness, the amount of time we have between his arrival and the next competition, et cetera, et cetera. We will weigh all of those things at the appropriate time. Now, we're just singularly focused on the guys that are here working and have been here working and kind of building a plan around variables that we know. That's the appropriate thing."

Listen to that. Does that sound like a guy or an organization that’s freaking out even the slightest? They have Super Bowl aspirations, one of their biggest weapons isn’t there, and the head coach is talking about quantifying all Le’Veon Bell-related things, and “the amount of time we have between his arrival and the next competition.” That is locked in and laser focused. 

From the outside, there’s no sense of panic at all in the Steelers and I couldn’t respect that any more than I do. They’re all adults. They also know that Bell has only played two of the last five season openers. And he’s only gone over 100 yards in one of them. He’s not an early September back, he’s a rest of the season back.

And they know that the most likely thing is that he’ll show up later today or later this week, take his physical sign his deal, and maybe even play on Sunday. And if he doesn’t play Sunday, he’ll play next week. And they’ll just keep rolling along.

They’re not freaking out. And neither should you.