Steelers Players ‘Ransack’ Le’Veon Bell’s Locker

Pittsburgh players ready to move on without Bell

Josh Rowntree
November 14, 2018 - 4:53 pm
Pittsburgh Steelers player Le'Veon Bell (26) signs autographs during AFC team practice for the Pro Bowl at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports


For one afternoon, the Pittsburgh Steelers turned into Pittsburgh pirates.

Bud Dupree climbed on a chair in front of the locker that used to belong to Le’Veon Bell and began to pillage. More players followed suit. 

Bell’s nameplate had already been removed, as the All-Pro running back will not play for the Steelers again. 

Soon after Dupree was finished, a Steelers staffer got a ladder and pulled down a box of cleats. Players began to divide them up. One player held up one of Bell’s suits, joking, “does anyone want a free suit?”

For a brief moment, chaos struck a corner of the Steelers South Side practice facility that has been quiet since last January. 

But, in front of microphones and cameras, Steelers players were more subdued. 

“No drama,” center Maurkice Pouncey said. “You guys made it drama. We just went out there and played football.” 

Before speaking, Pouncey told reports, “I don’t talk about players who aren’t on our team,” instructing the media to not ask about Bell, who will sit out the entire season instead of playing under a $14.5 million franchise tag.

“My hat’s off to him,” guard Ramon Foster said. “He’s a great guy, he’s done a lot of great things for us. It is what it is.”

Foster, back in Week One, was critical of Bell for his lack of communication with his intentions. Bell had initially said that he would arrive the first week, but did not. 

“That’s his business,” Foster said. “He rolled with it how he wanted to roll with it, him and his team. They released his stuff to you all. So you guys find a time to pick an interview with him and his team.”

Bell was surrendering more money, per week, than current starting running back James Conner will make this entire season. 

“I didn’t really pay attention to it,” said Conner, who has run for an AFC leading 771 yards. “I always just go by the motto ‘control what you can control.’ I had no control on when he was going to show up. I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing.”

It seemed that Bell was set to return this week when he tweeted “Fairwell Miami” last week. When he was spotted in the Pittsburgh area, speculation was fueled that Bell would be back by Tuesday’s deadline. But that did not happen. 

“It was little bit of trolling, it seemed, saying ‘farewell’ and stuff,” Foster said. “But, it didn’t matter because, as you can tell, we’ve been on a little bit of a roll. We play ball. James has done his job, so far.

“I guess he just had his own thing going on. I don’t know. No communication.”

Foster is right on one thing, for sure. The Steelers are rolling, having won five straight and coming off an impressive 52-21 beatdown of Carolina Thursday.

But Bell’s case is an interesting and unprecedented one. No player has willingly left this much money on the table before. The NFL’s franchise tag, something players have learned to despise, is the root cause of all of this. Bell’s situation may not be replicated again, but it could have potentially laid the groundwork for a change in the next collective bargaining agreement discussions.  

“Word to the wise to every player in the NFL moving forward,” said Foster, the team’s NFLPA representative. “Get informed, understand what’s going on. Don’t just set back and collect your Madden check when NFL pay comes. We’ve got to be a group of guys that have an understanding of what we want out of this. And this is a telltale sign of that.”