Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET is the deadline for Le’Veon Bell to report to the Pittsburgh Steelers, or he can’t play in 2018.
Bell is in the city, and has been for a week — but as the league-imposed deadline approaches, the Steelers still haven’t heard from two-time All-Pro. And head coach Mike Tomlin continues to be exasperated by questions about the absent running back.
If Le’Veon Bell never walks in, ‘so be it’
On Tuesday, Tomlin met with reporters and after giving a summary of the Steelers’ win over the Carolina Panthers and his summation of Pittsburgh’s next opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Then he began getting peppered with questions about Bell.
Tomlin said he has not had any communication with Bell this year. Asked for his reaction if Bell doesn’t report and forfeits playing for the season, he said, “I have no reaction. I’ve told you guys consistently: the reaction comes from me if and when he walks in the door. Until that happens, I’m business as usual, focused on those that are here and working, and appropriately so, that way I don’t waste my time and theirs.
What is Bell never walks in the Steelers’ facility again?
“So be it,” Tomlin said.
‘Business is an element of the game’
This isn’t the first time a player has cut off communication, Tomlin said, and under the circumstances, he’s not surprised Bell hasn’t responded to him when he’s reached out.
“I understand that business is an element of the game of football, and there are elements to the game, relationships within the game, football-related relationships that we all hold near and dear, but then football at this level, there’s also the business element,” Tomlin said. “And even when we don’t understand it, we’re sensitive to it, so we’re not shocked when things happen from a business standpoint.”
Expecting too much?
Tomlin hasn’t “thought one iota” about Bell’s future with the Steelers.
“I’ve said it repeatedly and I mean [it]: I’m focused on the guys that are here,” he said.
Bell’s position is that he didn’t want the Steelers to run him into the ground physically when he wasn’t offered the security of a long-term deal, but is he looking for too much?
ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio tweeted on Tuesday that according to text messages from Bell’s agent, Adisa Bakari, Bell wants to be paid “as a franchise quarterback.” Citing sources, Florio further tweeted that Bell isn’t afraid to retire if money doesn’t meet his expectations.
No one doubts Bell’s talent, but that seems really steep, especially considering what running backs have been earning in recent years.
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