While we all wait to see what happens with Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell and his appeal of the four-game suspension for reportedly violating the league’s substance policy, a lot of attention has been shifted to how the news even leaked in the first place.
Here is what Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wrote several days ago about the subject of league leaks.
“Stop me if you’re heard this one before (actually, don’t bother because I’m going to say it again anyway): The substance-abuse policy has a clear confidentiality provision that is supposed to keep people from knowing that a player is facing a suspension until the suspension has been finalized through the appeal process. With NFL Media confirming the initial ESPN report regarding the suspension and with NFL Media advancing the story by reporting that Bell missed multiple tests, the NFL — which owns and operates NFL Media — is violating its own policy. And no one seems to be bothered by that. Ever.”
Well, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert can now be counted as one who is bothered by the leak of Bell’s suspension, which has still yet to be confirmed by the league.
“We can’t talk about it,” said Colbert in a Friday interview on Steelers Nation Radio. “When people do talk about it and it becomes public, that’s very disturbing to everybody and it’s wrong, it’s illegal, it’s unethical. And wherever the information comes from, I agree, it does have to be stopped and it’s unfortunate, because we’re bound by rules. We can be fined, suspended, draft picks taken away, the whole bit. So you have to suspect that the information isn’t really coming from us and it shouldn’t be. And anybody that leaks any kind of information that’s deemed confidential and very sensitive, they should be punished.”
On Thursday, Bell admitted during his press conference that the league notified him in March that he was facing discipline for a missed test. While he was able to keep that secret for a few months, Mark Madden of 105.9 The X Radio reported in the middle of June that he had heard that the Steelers running back was facing a suspension. While Bell immediately denied that rumor when asked about it by the media, Dan Graziano of ESPN reported a week ago, that Bell is indeed facing a four-game suspension.
We aren’t likely to ever know who leaked the Bell story. On top of that, these leaks are unlikely to stop in the future. It’s unfortunate, but true. It will, however, be interesting to see if NFL Media arm of the league continues to confirm outside media reports of possible suspensions when the actual NFL front office has yet to.
For now, we’ll have to wait a few more weeks until we find out the outcome of Bell’s appeal as it won’t take place until sometime in the middle of August. Bell still remains seemingly confident that he will indeed win his appeal.