Fired Up Fridays: Pay What You Owe (Le’Veon Bell Holdout)

The Boondocks. Season One. Episode Seven. A Huey Freeman Christmas. Remember what Huey ended his letter to Santa with; a line that can be applied in everyday life; “pay what you owe.”

Aaron Donald said it, he got paid; Odell Beckham Jr. said it, he got paid; Khalil Mack said it, he got traded…and then paid. So what’s the issue with Le’Veon Bell continuing to holdout until he gets paid?

The Steelers running back is set to enter his sixth season after being drafted by Pittsburgh in the second round of the 2013 draft. Since entering the league Bell has been highly regarded as not only one of the top running backs in the league, but arguably the top weapon on the Steelers’ potent offense.

 

Granted, Bell has only played a full season once since being drafted due to receiving multiple substance abuse suspensions and injuries. The 26 year old star hasn’t exactly shown the best judgement in terms of his substance abuse issues; on the same token neither has the previously mentioned Odell Beckham Jr. With that said, the Giants organization put faith in the best player on their roster to show maturity in the future and made him the highest paid player in history at his position…based on his potential.

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

The three-time Pro Bowler already holds franchise records for rushing yards in a single game, and career average rushing yards per game. In addition to his rushing accolades, Bell is the franchise leader in most receptions by a running back, most receiving yards by a running back, and single-season scrimmage yards.

Therein lies the disconnect. Pittsburgh would like to pay Bell strictly off of the position title running back. Bell wants to be paid based off of his worth not only as a running back; but as an all around weapon used in and out of the backfield.

While playing on the franchise tag last season, Bell’s rushing attempts jumped to 321 compared to his previous career-high of 290. His receptions jumped to 94; only eight wide receivers in the NFL caught more passes than the 2-time All Pro.

The proof is in the pudding. Pittsburgh has no problem using the talents and abilities of Bell, both as a rusher and receiver, but refuses to pay the star accordingly.

 

FAMILY FEUD

Jay-Z said it best, nobody wins when the family feuds. Steve Harvey could’ve hosted Wednesday’s media availability after Steelers practice because boy did they have a good one for us that day.

After offering Bell anything short of a market-resetting contract this past off-season, it was no secret that 2018 would be his last season wearing black and yellow. Everyone knew Bell would holdout for the duration of training camp and return to the team when he chose to sign his $14.5 million franchise tag and get to work.

Original rumors came out that the holdout would return to work on Labor Day; after the conclusion of training camp and a week before the team’s regular season opener. Labor Day came and went and there were no signs of Bell. Fast forward to Wednesday, the day teams implement their gameplan for the week, still no sign of Bell. It was at that point when Steelers players took their frustrations to the media.

Surprisingly, the backlash came from the unit Bell’s success relies most upon, the offensive line. From statements comparing salaries; which is absolutely frowned upon in professional sports; to flat out calling out the running back to either show up or leave for good; multiple players decided enough was enough.

Fellow Steelers star Antonio Brown came out later in the week to defend Bell’s decision.

 

HANDS UP, CASH OUT

Le’Veon Bell has until week 10 to holdout and still have the opportunity to become a free agent next off-season. At this point we know Bell will not be on the field week one; but after being called out by the offensive line this week why should he come back any sooner? To put his body at risk of injury or worse for the betterment of the team? No matter how many players come out to defend Bell from here on out, this “team” deserves whatever they get for turning on one of their own.

 

Regardless of when the inevitable happens this season, some team next off-season will be running to Bell with their hands up and cash out to pay one of the most valuable players in the game today.

Sterling Blount

Sterling Blount has been writing passionately about sports since 2011. Sterling has had a strong passion for sports since the age of four; watching anything from football and basketball to golf, lacrosse, and hockey. He first discovered his passion for writing during his freshman year of college. He has lived in the DMV for 25 years and primarily writes about the pulse of DC and Maryland teams, as well as the social climate in sports.