By: Jonathan Goad
This story has plagued the NFL for the last four months– probably longer than that.
Since Le’Veon Bell hadn’t reported prior to the Tuesday, November 13th deadline, Bell is officially ineligible for the remainder of the season. So, we shouldn’t have to hear about Bell again until he makes his free agency decision.
Bell decided to pass on the millions of dollars he could have made this season because he:
1) wanted a long term deal and
2) thought he deserved more money.
There’s no denying that Bell is one of the best running backs in the league. He’s as dynamic as they come. However, with the emergence of James Conner, Pittsburgh wasn’t phased by Bell’s tactics.
While it’s unknown if Bell planned to sit out all season or not, the Steelers organization called him on it. That is thanks to James Conner. Likely, Le’Veon figured the team would struggle without him. They dropped a few games early, but they have rallied together behind James Conner and have won five straight (at time of writing). Bell probably assumed with the early struggles that the Steelers had– they’d come calling– blank check in hand. But we all know what happens when people assume…
I encourage you to watch this video from the NFL Network. It explains something very interesting regarding this situation.
There’s two points I want to discuss in the remainder of this article.
The first is that as a football fan, I really hope Le’Veon Bell hasn’t set a precedent for future franchise tag players. We all want to see the best players on the field every week. If Bell’s experience leads to others holding out for an entire season, that taints that season especially if multiple players hold out the same year. Each team has one franchise tag to use each season. Could you imagine if 32 of the top players in the league didn’t play one season? Obviously, teams use the tag on different positions and players, but that doesn’t change the impact it would have on Sundays.
The franchise tag is normally used on one of the teams best players. Take away one player from each team who clearly makes an impact in each game. Now imagine Sunday’s without those players for an entire year.
That’s not a world I want to live in.
Taking away those caliber of players seriously dilutes the talent level in the league. Now imagine that scenario in the fantasy football world. Yes, fantasy football matters. It’s widely popular and for some, the one reason people pay any attention to the NFL. In that world, nearly three rounds of the draft aren’t playing. However, those players will likely still be drafted like Le’Veon Bell was this year. It’s frustrating. But honestly, I could see this becoming normal for players who think they’re bigger than the team.
The second issue I have is with one of the comments made in the video above. I don’t know the gentleman’s name who said, “this is why we need guaranteed contracts,” but he’s wrong.
The issue I have is normal 9-5 workers don’t have guaranteed contracts. Why should someone who plays a game for a living have a guarantee? They already make millions of dollars, even without the guaranteed contract. Guess what happens if I’m not performing well at my job. I get fired. So if an NFL player doesn’t perform well at their JOB, they should still get paid? How does that make sense?
Don’t even argue that they put their bodies on the line every week. They know what they signed up for. Guess who else puts their lives on the line every day. Police officers, fire fighters, the military. They are the ones who are grossly underpaid. You really want a guaranteed contract to play a game? Give me a freakin’ break.
I applaud the Steelers organization for not giving into Bell’s demands. I encourage all organizations to follow suit because unfortunately, I think this is going to become the norm.
I know you’re tired of the Le’Veon Bell drama. I promise to not write about him anymore this season, unless something crazy happens. Let’s all move on.