The only thing that I know for sure as it concerns running back Le’Veon Bell is that nobody actually knows what has been going on, because, if some reports are to be believed, not even Bell and his agent, Adisa Bakari know exactly what is going on.
We know at the very least that Bell has either lied or changed his mind in the past, as he has previously said that he was going to show up and do the same thing he did a year ago. Either he never meant that or thought better of it afterward.
At this point, it doesn’t matter, and it’s likely better for both parties if he doesn’t show up in two days’ time, simply because it would be an unnecessary wrinkle in the locker room dynamic that has been growing over the course of the past two months and is at an all-time high right now.
Players are tired of answering questions about Bell, and frankly they probably would have to answer more questions if he does show up than if he doesn’t. Even if players like Ramon Foster and David DeCastro continue to say that they love him and would like him to show up, there will inevitably some hostility, which we already saw manifest itself when he was first expected to report and did not.
Everybody on the 53-man roster right now is playing because they want to win a Super Bowl trophy. If that were Bell’s goal in his professional career, he would be playing. And players who want to win it all (especially the older veterans whose chances are running out) are not interested in dealing with those who have higher priorities.
Based on the decisions and indecisions Bell has made, which includes alienating almost all of his teammates as well as virtually the entirety of the organization by going silent and failing to be in communication with them, one can only conclude that his re-insertion into the locker room would create complications.
And I’m not sure that the talent he theoretically brings to the field (theoretically especially after having taken 10 months off of football), considering their strength at the running back position right now with James Conner, would be enough to offset those interpersonal complications.
Mike Florio has been speculatively arguing for weeks now that the Steelers have been trying to convince Bell not to show up. While he has never offered any actual proof, simply relying on the presumption that they have been the source behind some supposed ‘leaks’ tied to language that has been in the CBA even before the most recent version, it wouldn’t entirely surprise me if that is the case.
I can very easily see why the team, behind closed doors, wouldn’t want him back in the building after what has transpired over the past two months. This is a close-knit team driven by one goal. He has willfully distanced himself from both that bond and that goal, neither of which should be welcomed with open arms upon return.