Nobody should expect Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell to show up anytime soon judging by hints dropped Wednesday on SiriusXM NFL Radio by his agent Adisa Bakari.
Bakari was asked Wednesday what the current game plan is moving forward for his client and he would only answer that by asking a question of his own.
“I’ll answer that question with a question, because you know obviously I’m not going to discuss our plan publicly, but I’ll answer the question, or attempt to with a question. You’re Kevin Colbert, you’re Mike Tomlin, and you possibly have a once in a generation player for one more season, what would your plan be?” he asked.
When show co-host Brady Quinn responded that Bell would likely be used very heavily and then again asked Bakari to reveal his plan moving forward, the agent responded.
“You know, you can read in between those lines,” he said.
Bakari was then asked if this means that Bell will sit out the entire season, or just up until Week 10.
“When we find out,” Bakari said. “I think Mike Tomlin said it best yesterday, he’ll get there when he’s there and we’ll address those issues when he arrives.”
When reminded later during the interview that he had said in mid July that Bell would likely be present for Week 1 unless something exceptional occurs, Bakari punted, so to speak.
“Well, there you go. We had something exceptional to occur,” he said.
Earlier in the interview, Bakari outlined other aspects that went into the decision for Bell to remain away for the start of the season and possibly longer.
“As far as back as little league, players have been trained to put the team first and to have the concern of winning to be the primary focus,” Bakari said. “Of course, we’ve heard the adages is there’s no I in team, right? Win at all costs and this is something that all players who’ve ever played the sport are programmed to think about, no matter what level at which they’re playing. It’s only until you get to the professional ranks, regardless of the sport, that that the player then to appreciate how unforgiving and at times how brutal the business of the sport can be and it’s that this point when the intelligent player understands that I first have to focus on self before I can revert or divert my interests back to the collective, to the team.
“So, again, for fans, when you’re first drafted, contract’s done prior to showing up to camp, players in this normal mode of thinking since seven years of age, win at all cost, team before I, but then you get to a point where it’s strictly a business concern and for some reason we don’t allow it players to be perceived as business people. Owners, all day long, right? GMs, all day long. But players are relegated to just that, being athletes.”
Bakari also offered up these thoughts on NFL team’s use of the franchise tag and how he thinks it’s a broken mechanism.
“Again, for fans and for people listening, one of the things that we can take away from this is that the franchise tag, as a strategy to secure your most valuable player for long-term, no longer works,” he said. “This is not a matter of opinion, my opinion, this is a matter of fact. Most notably Kirk Cousins. Second, we could speak to obviously Le’Veon. Thirdly, we can speak to all of the franchise players now who are currently playing on a one-year tag, who then, if they continue to ascend over the course of the 2018 season, their teams will then be forced to franchise them yet again. And those players will likely be in the same circumstance that they’re in right now, playing on a one year deal, which would ultimately mean that you lose the player, a la Washington Redskins, Kirk Cousins.”