Running back Le’Veon Bell returns to the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday. Good news for everybody except our opponents. And maybe DeAngelo Williams, who just so happens to be the league’s second leading rusher. Also, it could mean unemployment for Dri Archer since we don’t need four backs, especially one that’s utterly useless.
Er, anyway the point here is Le’Veon Bell is coming back. It’s still two more weeks before wide receiver Martavis Bryant is eligible to return from his suspension. “Eligible” being the operative word as even once he can return, there’s no guarantee that he will. Martavis Bryant has some big issues.
It was reported yesterday that Bryant is currently in Houston seeking help from noted substance-abuse counselor John Lucas. Lucas had his 14 year career in the NBA nearly derailed due to drug problems and has since taken up working with athletes as a counselor and life coach. His most notable pupil was epic first round bust JaMarcus Russell, who infamously had a taste for the Purple Drank. I always wanted to use the term “Purple Drank” in my blog. Lucas eventually distanced himself from Russell but does have many success stories such as the Honey Badger (Tyrann Mathieu), whose drug issues ruined his college career but has gone on to become an important part of a very good Arizona Cardinals defense.
The Steelers are reportedly very concerned about Bryant. Leaving aside whether you think weed should be legalized, the NFL has a pretty liberal policy when it comes to pot. Basically, your first couple failure just get warnings with a threat of increased testing. You more or less have to get popped three times to trigger the automatic 4 game ban. After that, you go into what the league calls “Stage Three” which is a high risk pool for chronic (no pun intended) offenders. Players in Stage Three get tested more frequently with the next failure triggering a 10 game ban.
Coach Mike Tomlin has refused to talk about Bryant, a sure sign the team sees something deeply troubling there. After the suspension was announced, it was reported Bryant was moving his mother in with him as a way to get away from bad influences and hopefully get himself on the straight and narrow. When you go with the Nuclear Option of bringing in mama you know you done f’d up. Now that we have word he’s seeking formal counseling for his addiction, everyone’s concerns seem to be well-founded.
Bryant is undeniably a rare talent. During his rookie season, he emerged as the team’s best big play deep threat. The Steelers have gotten some good play from Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey in his absence but neither Wheaton (5’11) nor DHB (6’2) are gifted with the freakish athleticism of the 6’5 Bryant. 2014 was a banner year for wide receivers with Odell Beckham, Sammy Watkins, Brandin Cooks and Kelvin Benjamin among the emerging stars to come out of that draft. Scary as it sounds, many experts think Bryant has the potential to emerge as the best of the bunch over the long run.
For him to do that, first he needs to solve whatever personal demons he might be fighting with. I’m sure he’s not the only pothead in the NFL, hell, he’s surely not the only pothead on the Steelers. However, clearly his addiction has reached the point where he puts getting high over his career. Hopefully he can get that under control so he can return to the field and fulfill the huge promise he’s shown as a rookie. If he can’t, well, he can always talk to Bam Morris about what it’s like to live with what might have been.