Are the Pittsburgh Steelers really beneficiaries of preferential treatment from the league when it comes to matters off the field? Well, according to a recent report by Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report, one team executive believes that they are as it relates to the suspensions of Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell over the course of the last two seasons.
“If what’s happening in Pittsburgh was happening in New England, there would be multiple league investigations,” said one NFC East team executive, who asked not to be identified. “But because the Steelers are so liked by the media and league, they get a pass.”
Before we go any further, it certainly doesn’t appear as though the Steelers received any passes when it comes to Bryant and Bell. After all, Bryant was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season while Bell was forced to miss the first two games last year. Sure, Bell’s original suspension was for three games, so I guess his one-game reduction might be considered a pass from the league by a few. Since then, Bryant has been suspended for the entire 2016 season while Bell is currently appealing a new four-game suspension for reportedly missing “several” drug tests. However, until the results of Bell’s appeal and reasons for him allegedly missing those tests are fully known, in no way can anyone assume he is getting a pass from the league.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t former Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes receive a four-game suspension in 2010 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy? Sure, the Steelers ultimately traded Holmes to the New York Jets prior to that season, but I fail to see how they received a pass from the league or the media.
While not drug-related, what about all of the fines and the one-game suspension that linebacker James Harrison has received from the league during his career in Pittsburgh? It surely never felt like he received any kind of a pass in relation to all of that. As for his current ongoing battle with the league concerning the paper-thin allegations that he has bought and used PEDS in the past, which is drug-related, that situation has yet to play itself out. Part of why Harrison is refusing to meet with league representatives as part of their investigation is because he and the NFLPA believe that it is in essence unconstitutional being as the NFL will not provide any evidence as to why they believe it’s worth pursuing.
While also not drug-related, do any of you believe that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger received a pass from the league several years when he was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season for presumably violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy even after prosecutors decided not to charge him in a case involving a college student who had accused him of sexually assaulting her in a Georgia nightclub? Sure, the suspension was originally six games and ultimately reduced by two, but even so, it’s hard to argue that he and the Steelers received a pass. Do any of you disagree with that?
Freeman added this in his story cornering the comments made by the unnamed executive: “I can tell you that is not a lone sentiment across the NFL. It’s wrong, but it’s not a singular belief. It’s wrong because the Steelers haven’t gotten a pass from the league. They have, however, gotten an image pass. They aren’t generally seen as a drug team, but clearly, something is seriously wrong there.”
Have they really received a drug-related image pass? Personally, I don’t think so. It seems like every year for the past five or six I am always writing about some Steelers player, or players, dealing with some sort of off the field issue right before the start of training camp or during the offseason. The same goes for the local Pittsburgh media. It’s embarrassing for sure but I really don’t visibly see anyone attempting to sweep all of this under a rug. In fact, if anything, we write about each incident way too much on this site.
Freeman goes on to say that there is currently a disconnect in the Steelers organization, and that they better get it fixed. He obviously says this because two of the team’s star offensive players are currently dealing with drug-related issues. Freeman, however, fails to offer up any suggestions as to how they should go about diminishing their “drug team” image. Should they just release every player right away if they are ever suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy? Should they avoid drafting any players who are known to have tested positive for marijuana during college? I’m all ears.
Is this really a locker room problem in Pittsburgh and thus bad leadership by the coaches and front office, or just two players who have personal problems bigger than what we really may know and who are just making bad decision after bad decision? I tend to go with the latter.
As for the NFL executive accusing the Steelers of receiving a pass from the league, like Freeman, I’m not seeing it. If anything, I’m seeing the media and the league giving them anything but a pass. What say you?