Full disclosure: I didn’t have any intention of continuing to talk about Le’Veon Bell here. But I also didn’t know he was going to pull an Antonio Brown and burn the bridges behind him in a ridiculous interview. At least for Bell, he waited until he signed with another team. Brown, blonde mustache and all, was still a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
That doesn’t make it any better though. I worked my way though Bell’s interview with Sports Illustrated yesterday, and he certainly had a lot to say, much of which was very naïve. My favorite part of the interview was where he talked about the difference between how the New York Jets treated him when they were courting him as a free agent and how he was originally handled by the Steelers when he was drafted.
“They made me feel welcomed. Guys were recruiting me. The fans were recruiting me. Everything about it…I had no choice but to go there”, he said of the Jets. “Instantly when I went to the Jets, I felt loved. When I talked to Coach Gase, I felt like he was talking to me like me and him were on the same level. He’s not talking to me like I’m under him”.
Maybe that has something to do with the fact that Adam Gase just got fired from a job and is trying to sign you to try to give himself some security. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you’re an established veteran player. When you got to Pittsburgh, you had achieved nothing. You were a nobody.
“When I first got to Pittsburgh, I didn’t get that feeling. I’m not saying they greeted me wrong or indifferent, but it’s like, when I got to New York with the Jets and things like that, just talking like, you know with the teammates, it’s like, I felt welcomed”, he said.
“You can sense when people genuinely want you around, when they genuinely want you here”, he added, with the obvious suggestion that that wasn’t the case in Pittsburgh. Of the way he was ‘treated’ with the Steelers, he said, “I’m thinking this is how it’s supposed to be. I didn’t know. So I’m thinking the way they’re talking to me, I’m thinking this is the way it’s supposed to be. It literally didn’t hit me until I was a free agent and I spoke to Adam Gase on the phone”.
So, basically what he’s saying is that he had no idea a team that is desperate to sign you is going to be super nice to you when you’re a really good player. And he even admitted that it didn’t stay like that in Pittsburgh, either. “Eventually I got there. Eventually I got to the point where I was like Le’Veon is like how AB is now. But it’s like Ben, and then the GM”, he said, giving voice to the obvious hierarchy of any team with an established franchise quarterback. Sam Darnold is not that yet.
“I didn’t feel in Pittsburgh that we’re even. I don’t feel like we’re even. I’ve never felt that”, he said. “They don’t treat you like you’re human. What I mean by that is like, yeah, I’m an NFL athlete, but I’m still a human being. I still play video games, I still make music. They don’t want to allow you to be yourself”.
This is my favorite comment because it’s in direct contradiction to what Ramon Foster just said about the team treating its players like men and allowing them to build their brands. And JuJu Smith-Schuster just signed a sponsorship deal with a game company, so…
When I hear Bell and Brown speak regarding their supposedly poor treatment, I can’t help but wonder if they ever take a moment to consider the possibility that it’s their own behavior that results in them being treated the way they are treated.