Earlier this week, Le’Veon Bell tweeted his displeasure with his stalled contract negotiations with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the tweet, Bell says it is “so hard to be a hero in a city that paints youu(sp) out to be the villain…”
Bell’s tweet shows a misunderstanding of the situation and is less likely to endear himself among Steeler fans. While Bell is clearly frustrated with the way his contract negotiations have stalled again, sending out a tweet will only do more harm than good. With Bell demanding $17 million per year, a full $2.5 million higher than his previous demands, the deal seems even less likely to get done with that would be favorable to Bell.
On the one hand, his position makes sense: he is the top player at his position in the league and deserves to be paid as a player with that distinction. He is also undoubtedly one of the most important players to the Pittsburgh Steelers and they would be a much worse team without his services. However, several factors are working against him. Primarily, he has completed only one full 16-game season in his career with Pittsburgh. Secondly, the NFL has shifted to a quarterback’s league in recent years and running backs like Bell are devalued as teams place a greater premium on top receivers to complement their quarterbacks, lineman to protect quarterbacks and the quarterbacks themselves.
Bell’s villain comment also will alienate fans who are tired of the ongoing saga further. Cynics will point out that football players are never heroes, given their job primarily consists of running with and catching a ball. Furthermore, fans will never be sympathetic with a millionaire fighting for a larger number before the six zeroes on his contract. While many fans may still believe that Bell deserves to get paid, his tweet will likely put more fans on the side of the organization, which is trying to be both economically sound and competitively motivated. The longer this saga draws out, the less sympathy there will be for Bell. His drawn out contract saga last summer and subsequent rust for the first several weeks of the season after his holdout are still fresh in the memories of many fans. A repeat of this again in 2018 would be damaging for an organization trying to capitalize on a small window of opportunity to capture an elusive seventh Lombardi Trophy. Bell can tweet his displeasure all he wants, but the city is not the one vilifying Bell, he is doing that on his own by acting selfishly and compromising the Steelers ability to succeed as a team in the immediate future.