The Pittsburgh Steelers have high expectations for running back Le’Veon Bell. They clearly hope they’ve finally found their Next Bus. In the meantime, if they need to find their prized rookie, they’ll need to look underneath a bus. That’s where he’s been tossed by none other than starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
On his weekly radio show (which is quickly becoming the source of more hilarity than a Mike Tomlin press conference), Big Ben was asked about Bell’s impending insertion into the starting line-up this Sunday against the Vikings. In the latest example of a Black and Gold team divided, Ben’s response was less enthusiastic. Here’s his full answer:
“Honestly, I have no idea with him. You can’t get a read on him. One day, he’s practicing, one day, he’s not; one day, he’s going hard, the next day, he’s not. I wish I could. If he was a guy like Heath Miller that you knew was busting his butt every day to get back there … Le’Veon is a rookie, I don’t know him quite well enough yet. But if he can come back and help us, we’ll take him.”
Now, Roethlis-Fanboys around the ‘net quickly jumped to their hero’s defense by claiming the quote was “taken out of context.” This is patently absurd. I take things out of context all the time when dissecting the Tomlin presser. When you pull a little six word quote – “He’s a guy always touching balls…” – and use it to insinuate Tomlin admires peepee touchers, that’s taking something out of context. When you quote a friggin’ PARAGRAPH, that’s what we call context.
The crazy part of Ben’s diatribe is he’s only saying what I’ve been saying for months now. Bell has been an injury prone disappointment thus far. Nobody is calling him a bust but didn’t Kevin Colbert and company pass on Eddie Lacy – who, to be fair, is also injured albeit with a concussion – because they worried about his injury history? Thus far, Bell’s entire on field contribution has been four carries in a single preseason game.
What we haven’t heard before – and what was noteworthy about Ben’s statement – was that evidently there’s some question about Bell’s work ethic. Perhaps it’s not fair to compare him to Heath Miller as very few players live up to that standard. And perhaps this was just Ben’s not-so-subtle attempt to motivate a young player. Clearly Bell thought so as he told reporters he didn’t take offense to Ben’s comments.
But what this does do is add even more fuel to the rumor of a rift between the Cowher Guys and the Tomlin Guys. Make no mistake, Bell was chosen over other backs with the full consent of Mike Tomlin. So when Ben picks another veteran of the ’05 and ’08 Championship teams as an example of a guy whose work ethic and desire to win is unquestionable, it’s a clear sign of an us vs them mentality. Let’s hope the team starts winning before the team descends into even more turmoil.
Last thing we want is for the Pittsburgh Steelers to become the Dallas Cowboys.