Dunlap: Big Ben Thinks Le'Veon Is a Joke

Colin Dunlap
October 15, 2018 - 7:33 am
Le'Veon Bell & Ben Roethlisberger

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan)- I get paid for my opinion. 

Here's a rather large one: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger doesn't want Le'Veon Bell back this season. Or ever. 

Big Ben would rather roll forward with who he has. 

The rumblings started a few weeks ago when Roethlisberger came out and said that it would be a tactical error for Steelers running back James Conner --- if Bell did come back ---to yield. Ben pretty much implored Conner to stand his ground, saying that the body of work the young running back had shown to this point in the season had merited competition and if Bell showed back up at the facility, it would be silly for Conner to just expect to be demoted. 

Ben has also, on more than one occasion, gone out of his way to laud Conner through the first six weeks as the Steelers find themselves at 3-2-1.  

Then, to me at least, came something different in the aftermath of what was an incredible 28-21 victory in Cincinnati on Sunday. It was a game in which Roethlisberger threw for 369 yards and that last-second score to Antonio Brown but also one in which Conner ripped through The Nati defense for 111 yards and two touchdowns. 

"He was a bowling ball today, he was all over the place," Roethlisberger said of Conner. 

Then the hammer came down. 

"I know it's his last game for us because Le'Veon's coming back, but I thought he did well in his last one." 

Was Ben's tongue firmly planted in his cheek when he said it? You bet. 

Deadpan Ben played it perfectly at the postgame press conference when he delivered those words. 

He never broke character and didn't stray from what Ben does best sometimes --- he played passive/aggressive Ben when he needed to deliver a message. 

And you know the message that I got loud and clear when he said that? The message that I got was that Ben is at a point in his career where he's run out of Fs and he will say pretty much what is on his mind and not care about who gets their feelings hurt. And the coding in those words were as clear as day --- to me at least --- and they translated to "James Conner is our guy and Le'Veon Bell can stay home." 

A million different people can watch what Ben said and take it a million different ways. I took it that way; I took at as Big Ben making it clear Bell was the butt of the joke --- and one veteran generally doesn't do that to another if he has much respect for him. In my estimation Ben (and some other guys in that room) don't have much respect for Bell because of what he did to the Pittsburgh Steelers by not showing up. 

You can interpret Big Ben's little postgame joke however you like. 

My interpretation was that Roethlisberger has already moved on. And he's moved on with Conner as the go-to back in this offense. 

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