Opportunity lost

Opportunity lost
March 07
08:49 2019

Even though I have been a Washington Redskins fan my entire life, the Pittsburgh Steelers have always had my respect for the way they have handled their business on and off the football field. Unfortunately, the way they have handled the Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown situations have left me baffled, to say the least.

The Steelers have been the model of consistency as a franchise since the day I was born. They have only had three head coaches in my lifetime: Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin. All three coaches led their respective teams to Super Bowl titles as well. They have also been perennial playoff contenders almost every year.

Over the past year, my feelings toward the Steelers have begun to change. Their three-headed monster of Bell, Brown and Ben (Roethlisberger), affectionately called the “Killer Bs,” are no more. Bell held out for the entire 2018 season and the relationship between Brown and Roethlisberger seemed to deteriorate by the week throughout last season.

Brown and Bell are arguably the best players at their position and Big Ben is still a top five quarterback in the league. At the start of next season, Big Ben will be the only one left on the roster, more than likely.

For starters, I never liked the way the Steelers handled the Le’Veon Bell situation from the start.  I understand that the value of the running back position in today’s NFL is not what it was 10 or 15 years ago, but Bell is more than just a running back. In 2017, Bell rushed for 1,291 yards and caught 85 passes for another 655 yards. He is just as dangerous running the ball as he is catching it.

Bell’s handout was due to his frustration over being franchised for a second season in a row. He was looking for a long-term deal that would provide him some security. I don’t blame him for holding out for what he believes he deserves. Big Ben is getting up in age, so I am not sure why the Steelers were not willing to capitalize on every year they have left with him.

As a franchise, I know the Steelers must be careful how they spend money because of the salary cap, but to me Bell is worth his weight in gold. They also had the luxury of having a more than capable backup in James Conner, who rushed for 973 yards and had 55 catches for 497 yards in 13 games. Conner played very well; however, there is only one Le’Veon Bell. Pittsburgh has decided not to place the franchise or transition tag on Bell, making him a free agent, free to sign with any team.

Antonio Brown is a different story entirely. Everyone knows that NFL wide receivers are divas. Brown may be one of the biggest divas of them all. With the numbers he puts up, you can live with some of his antics. I guess the Steelers have finally had enough of him and no longer want to deal with the headaches he brings.

Brown has had over 100 catches the last six seasons and is one of the biggest homerun threats in the league today. The Steelers are actively trying to trade him. Pittsburgh will be a good team next season, but their Super Bowl hopes are pretty much null and void without Bell and Brown.

I wish they could have found a way to make this all work because when Bell, Brown and Big Ben were all healthy, they were a great team to watch. I guess that is the nature of sports. In the long run, I think the Steelers may regret how they played both situations.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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