While it ultimately worked out in his favor, Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner was not thrilled about the situation his position group found itself in, metaphorically a headless beast with Le’Veon Bell choosing not to show up. Not to mention all of the questions that that decision on his teammate’s part thrust upon the rest of the group.
“Not the situation it was. I didn’t ask for that”, he said. “It wasn’t ever my place to say anything”. And he did speak infrequently, and with few words when he did. In fact, some reporters even started to take issue with his terse and seemingly impatient approach to answering their questions.
If only they could be bloggers in their parents’ basements instead of ‘professionals’.
“Even when I am playing well I don’t say much”, Conner admitted, and again, there is plenty of evidence available for that as well. He never talked himself up during the season, nor this past week during the Pro Bowl, an event designed to celebrate his and others’ accomplishments. “I am not one to talk much and promote things. It was a funny position to be in. I didn’t have control over anything. I could only control what I did on the field”.
While he was the hometown guy with the great backstory, he still had to actually prove himself on the football field before he could really be embraced as a player. A 100-yard game with two touchdowns in the opener was a good start for some, while others focused on his fumble.
But it was those around him who always believed in him and his abilities before he got a chance to demonstrate them in games, particularly his offensive linemen, and his own silence regarding himself has prompted others to speak on his behalf.
“When my teammates said they believed in me, I didn’t pay attention to the outside world, what they thought”, he said, the opinions of his teammates being sufficient. “I just came to work every day. It was a funny position to be in, but I started all year and things worked out”.
But no matter what his teammates tell him, he is not going into the 2019 season believing that he is a starter until it actually happens. For one thing, he’s still not even sure if Bell will be here, and if he is (as unlikely as that might seem), Conner isn’t going to be starting.
Of course virtually everybody is seemingly pulling for that outcome, especially those who have been ready to part with Bell for years already, long before he chose to sit out the 2018 season.