Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Fillipponi: Bell's big bucks won't buy him common sense

Calling out the fans won't get the RB paid.

Andrew Fillipponi
March 30, 2018 - 2:06 pm

Le’Veon Bell's latest tweet reveals what I’ve long believed: that the Steelers running back is a tone-deaf narcissist who is oblivious to reality.

Along with football player and rapper, Bell has added “villain” to his list of occupations. This latest portrayal is a puzzler. Somehow fans are out of line for criticizing Bell’s inflated sense of self-worth. Hogwash.

Bell thinks he’s a running back and wide receiver, that’s why he's seeking an unprecedented annual salary of 17 million dollars. Unless he’s been cloned, he can only play one position at a time. So his assertion is ridiculous. 

Let me set a few things straight. The fans, the city of Pittsburgh, didn’t get Le’Veon Bell suspended. Twice. He got in a car with LeGarrette Blount on his way to work and decided to get high. No one forced the joint to his lips. It wasn’t a fraternity initiation party. The fans weren’t responsible for Bell failing subsequent drug tests. He blamed his alarm clock for that. So breathe easy Steelers fans, you have company, there are more guilty parties.

The fans didn’t tell Bell to threaten retirement before a playoff game. Then, blow off the team’s final walkthrough practice. And oh yeah, show up late for the playoff loss to Jacksonville. He also guaranteed a win and AFC title game with New England. Last year, fans didn’t tell him to turn down a lucrative deal with the Steelers that would have paid him 30 million dollars in the first two seasons of the pact.  Bell’s principles or ignorance cost him millions.

The NFL has deemed running back as a disposable position. No one demands to make double what their peers are making. The best quarterbacks now make around 30 million. The best wide receivers around 16 million. The best running backs are around 10. Them the breaks. If you don’t like it, maybe Bell should have committed to being a wide receiver full-time, it’s more lucrative.

I don’t know where Bell gets off turning this on the fans. Steelers fans generally like players who help them win. Bell has done a lot of winning, but he’s not a Super Bowl champion. He isn’t irreplaceable, yet acts like he’s the franchise savior. Most fans were willing to push for a long-term contract for Bell, but it’s a capped sport. More money for Bell takes away from money that can be spent on other important parts of the roster. So overpaying Bell hurts the team. Fans root for the team first.

Pittsburgh athletes that have achieved far more than Bell have had their legacy sullied because of a soured relationship with fans. Jagr got booed everytime he touched the puck. Terry Bradshaw is reviled more than respected. Barry Bonds has his detractors. 

Bell’s Steelers career is dirt without a 7th Super Bowl championship. He doesn’t get that. He won’t get remembered as a franchise great without one. He’s become an extremely unlikeable player. No one wants to hear that 14.5 million isn’t enough.

The next time Bell tweets I hope it’s to say “I’ve been acting like an idiot lately, I’ll be ready to go for camp. Sorry.” Then maybe he’ll get his hero’s welcome. But I know that won't happen, because I live in the real world. I'm not the "villain," Le'Veon Bell.