He’s off the team? No, he’s not he’s still on the team. He hasn’t been there all season and he hasn’t signed a contract. HE’S NOT ON THE TEAM! WELL HE’S ON THE DEPTH CHART ISN’T HE?? HE’S STILL ON THE TEAM!!! Well, as of today, that argument went the way of the dinosaurs. That’s because as of September 10th, 2018, LeVeon Bell is not listed on the Pittsburgh Steelers depth chart.
What’s the Big Deal
That is significant because, until yesterday, Bell, (he who had no signed contract and not once been seen at a Pittsburgh Steelers facility since the cripplingly embarrassing loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars eight months ago), was listed as the starting running back on the Steelers depth chart. The only indication that he wasn’t actually going to be their bell cow in week one of the regular season and beyond? An oh-so-subtle asterisk next to Bell’s name that indicates he is MIA.
That asterisk? It is now a thing of the past. The starting running back? It is James Conner. The backups? Jaylen Samuels and Steven Ridley. We are in official holdout territory, and I dare say his teammates are not happy about it.
Let’s Ask The Linemen
“I think we’re all disappointed. What’s the expression? We’re stuck here with our foot in our mouths. We all thought he’d be here,” said right guard David DeCastro.
“Honestly it’s a little selfish,” said Pouncey. “I’m kind of pissed right now. It sucks that he’s not here. We’ll move on as a team. “At this point, go ahead and miss 10 (games).”
Pouncey expanded further on Bell, “Obviously, it’s Le’Veon over the Steelers. We are the Steelers. At this point, it’s bigger than business. Now that it’s game time and you have $14 million looming out there and your team really wants you here, at this point we have Conner.”
“What do you do? Here’s a guy who doesn’t give a damn, I guess, so we’ll treat it as such. I just hate it came to this,” left guard Ramon Foster fumed about Bell to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s making seven times what I make twice as much as Al [Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva] is making and we’re the guys who do it for him.”
Those were all comments from last week, prior to their week one tie to the Cleveland Browns and the mixed feelings that come with it.
What does the team think now? They have been remarkably tight lipped since the subtle depth chart update. But it is possible Bell’s disgruntled teammates, specifically his O-line, has already circled the wagons around James Conor. He did have 135 yards rushing, 192 yards from scrimmage, and two touchdowns after all. After that, does a clerical change like removing Bell’s name from the depth chart matter that much? Probably not to them.
It Means More than it Seems
But to the rest of us, it indicates another movement farther apart for the Steelers and Bell. Its a symbolic change. And in the world of NFL holdouts, where speculation is everything and results hinge on the psychology of a single 20-something year old man, that symbolic change may be the final nail in the coffin of LeVeon Bell’s time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Small as the adjustment is, the only reaction I have to it is a single word.
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