With the Steelers looking to make a Super Bowl run in 2017, LeVeon Bell’s teammates wanted to him to show up at the start of camp. Antonio Brown first tried encouraging him into showing up, then called for fans to pressure Bell through social media. Maurkice Pouncey then offered Bell some of his money if he would show up. I’m fairly certain though that deep down, both players, along with the rest of the team, knew that Bell wasn’t coming. Despite their desire for LeVeon to join them in Latrobe, they know that it’s just a part of the business side of playing professional football, and ultimately they know he will show up. In the meantime, it’s not like Bell is on an extended vacation, he is training with footwork coach in south Florida.
LeVeon’s absence from camp has nothing to do with greed. He has $12.1 million guaranteed when he signs his exclusive franchise tender. It has nothing to do with him not being a team player. He is working as hard as anyone to get ready for the season. This isn’t a statement of protest against Art Rooney II and the front office for not receiving a long term deal he desires. Both sides claim no hard feelings and want him to remain in Pittsburgh long term. It is not a holdout either. This is about the one year gamble he took on himself. It’s about preserving his body as much as possible for the regular season, to prove to the front office that he is worth the value he has places on himself.
A running back doesn’t require many reps to be prepared for the start of the regular season, especially one as talented as Bell. The regular practice routine of the preseason, along with a few series of action in those games will give him more than enough time to be ready for the regular season. In light of that, it is a safe bet to expect that once the Steelers break camp, Bell will sign his exclusive franchise tag tender and report to the south side for work. For all the criticism that received, LeVeon Bell is not wrong for how he handled this whole situation, and when it’s all said and done, the odds are good that both he and the Steelers will get together and work out a long term deal so that he will remain a Pittsburgh Steeler throughout his prime years.