Le’Veon Bell on Steelers: “They don’t treat you like you’re human”

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Running back Le'Veon Bell won his freedom from the Steelers by taking a stand and sitting out a full season. Now that he’s a member of the Jets, Bell reflected on the mindset of the team that made him a second-round pick in the 2013 draft.

“Pittsburgh is a great organization,” Bell told Jenny Vrentas of SI.com. “They’ve got a great owner, head coach. They kind of treat you like — they don’t treat you like you’re human. What I mean by that is like, yeah, I’m an NFL athlete, but still I’m a human being. You know what I’m saying? I still play video games, I still make music. They don’t want to allow you to be yourself. They want you to be, if you’re a Steelers, you’re literally playing football 24/7. You’re not supposed to be playing video games and like making music, playing basketball. You’re not supposed to be doing that. You’re supposed to be working out.”

You’re also supposed to be doing what the Steelers want as it relates to the structure of contracts. Which is what created the problem in the first place. If the Steelers had simply offered Bell the full amount of the franchise tag for 2017 ($12.1 million) and the full amount of the franchise tag for 2018 ($14.54 million), fully guaranteed, Bell quite possibly would have (and arguably should have) accepted a four- or five-year deal starting with $26.64 million over the first two years.

Instead, Bell made the $12.1 million, sat out a year, and got the $26.64 (plus .36) million fully guaranteed from the Jets. While the process was rocky and some remain determined to declare Bell a loser (presumably so that they can say they were right about their position that he shouldn’t sit out the year), the Steelers flicked the first domino by virtue of their stubborn refusal to deviate from the way they structure contracts, even when the player carries the franchise tag.

For more on this and other subjects, check out Wednesday’s PFTOT, appearing in the video attached to this blurb.

125 responses to “Le’Veon Bell on Steelers: “They don’t treat you like you’re human”

  1. NFL players have a small window to make millions in their twenties then retire forever.
    If you cant dedicate yourself (and take a break from video games and a music career) to the company in that span, with that amount of rewards, then you deserve to be like the rest of us who will work till we are 68.

  2. Forget what team you follow, forget your favorite players, I am sick and tired of hearing Millionaires makes these statements. If it was that bad and you could not bear it go get a regular job.

  3. I feel soooo sorry for these pampered pro athletes. They are so delusional and have no concept of what it’s like working in the “real world”.
    Bell wants to play his video games and make his music (if you can call it that) and play basketball. My 14 year old grandson loves to do those things, too.
    Le’Veon Bell needs to grow up and realize how great he has it playing in the NFL.
    The great Joe DiMaggio was once asked by a teammate why he suited up and continued to play when his upper thigh was so badly bruised that he could hardly walk. DiMaggio looked at him and said, “because there might be one fan who has never seen me play and I don’t want to disappoint them”. DiMaggio got it. Le’Veon Bell doesn’t get it and never will.

  4. Just wait until he gets a real dose of the New York City media. First time he looks out of shape or struggles in a game they’re going to make him cry.

  5. Are you saying that people will dismiss evidence simply to avoid the possibility about predicting the future incorrectly? I can’t see people being so petty that all of their predictions about the future have to be correct.

  6. “Declare Bell a loser (so they can say they were right)…”

    No. The numbers don’t add up to a winning strategy for Bell. The ONLY way he came out a winner in all of this is if he would have sustained a career-threatening injury last year.
    Stop assigning motives where there are none. It’s about the numbers.

  7. OMG, you mean they are actually expecting you to work, while you’re at work? Shocking.

    It’s not hard to see why there is/was so much dysfunction going on with the Steelers. With Bell, Brown, and most likely, to some degree BR, it’s amazing they were able to win as many games as they have over the years. Tomlin gets a bad rap, and I’m the first to criticize his “players coach” mentality, but man, how can you get across to players that think this way? It could also possibly explain BR’s iciness towards some of these guys.

  8. They paid Bell millions and millions of dollars to play football. And for that kind of money, they have a right to demand that he sacrifice much of his personal life. It’s how the world works. Don’t like it? Then go work at a job where they let you goof off when you want–but they won’t pay you millions of dollars to do it. That’s the tradeoff, Mr. Bell. It’s reality. You should learn to deal with it like the rest of us have to do on a daily basis.

  9. To extend the logic that foregoing the $14.5mil was a good idea wouldn’t that same logic apply to any good/star player(or any player, for that matter) with 1 year left on their contract? Would not the injury risk deal be the same? So players in that boat should all holdout for another contract?

  10. of course they don’t want you to play basketball during the offseason, because you might get injured and hurt the whole team. Then, if they decide not to pay you because it was a non-football injury you would cry about that too….

  11. LA Charger Melvin Gordon was waiting to see what Bell was getting as he wants an extended contract. Mel…don’t hold your breath. You’re a good rotational back and high character team mate, but Spanos is/can’t pay big contracts. The ‘relocation’ was a failure. Stadium revenues have dried up with few fans. He owes $520,000,000 in relocation fees. He’s literally renting everything and owns nothing except a very weakened brand franchise.

  12. So an employer that has millions and millions of dollars invested in you wants you to focus on the job and prepare and train for the job and you have a problem with that? The problem isn’t with the team and their expectations…it’s with you.

  13. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to be paid $14,500,000 for a single 9-months of work. It must be so hard for poor LeVeon. I just read the SI.com article on him calling out Big Ben and the rest of the Steelers Org. What a clown. he belongs in NY.

  14. I’m sorry, but if I am paying you over 12 mil per year, I expect you to do what I ask during the season. You have an entire offseason to play video games or record your crappy music.

  15. Every team has the RIGHT to cancel a agreed to contract at any time.

    But when a player tries to apply the same pressure he is the bad guy.

    Solve the problem with guaranteed contracts. Like every other league.

    If Roger Goodell makes $40 million per year. Players can get guaranteed contracts

  16. “Instead, Bell made the $12.1 million, sat out a year, and got the $26.64 (plus .36) million fully guaranteed from the Jets.”

    Or he could of: made $12.1m, MAKE ANOTHER $14.5M, and got the $26.64m fully guaranteed from the Jets. Stop with making excuses for him – he lost out on $14.5m that he’ll never get back. Period.

  17. You can play video games but not make it a major part of your life. Losers with no careers play video games a lot as adults. It’s just making good use of your time, making good decisions and living life as a successful adult. Your employer should not have to explain this to you or regulate this for you Le’Veon.

  18. When they pay you almost a million per game… Yeah, you need to be “All in.”
    Last year he turned down the 14 mil because they, “Were actually gonna use him, make him run.”
    He needed to be paid 14 and then “Rest his body.”
    He needs to retire and go home and play video games and pretend he is a rapper. What a joke.

  19. Why would the Steelers need to change anything by not signing Bell? If anything they dodged a bullet!

  20. Well would you look at this! Commenters who root for teams other than the Steelers are coming to together to defend the Steelers’ handling of the Bell situation! Including me…

  21. i think it was low-class for the steelers players to rummage through his belongings in the locker room when he wasn’t there. that tells me all i needed to know.

  22. Ughh.. For the 80th time Pittsburgh did offer Bell a big contract. CBS reported their last and final offer was $70M total at $14M a year with $33M guaranteed up front the first two years.

    Bell as asking for $17M a year and wanted more guaranteed money. He bet on himself and lost. He is going to make less money running behind a poor offensive line with a green QB who does not have the depth Pittsburgh had.

  23. This is the most millenial thing I’ve ever heard from an NFL player. What he just described is called being a “professional”, especially when you are being gifted with MILLIONS in return for your efforts.

    Bell clearly doesn’t know what it means to be a professional. This is the clearest piece of evidence yet: if anyone is in the “wrong” here, it’s Bell, not Pittsburgh.

  24. I’m generally on the side of players, not the multibillionaires. However, it’s hard to take Le’Veon’s side when he makes statements like this one.

  25. If you pay me that much to play a game i love, i am dedicating every ounce of my time to the organization necessary to provide for my family. Bell is a great talent, but he isn’t the best there ever was, he should be grateful for the opportunity given to him. I dont think his heart is in the game, he is there just to collect a paycheck.

  26. AB. Bell. Ben. At what point do the Rooney’s figure out their coach has lost control of the team?

  27. Oh, the benefits of an 8-5 job; play video games, make music, play basketball without your boss getting on you. What a life! Only downside is you make $14/hour instead of $14 million per year.

  28. A bunch of comments that are completely out of touch and riddled with envy. All Bell said was he wanted to be able to live his life and have some interests outside of FB. Like everybody else. No companies expect people to be involved in their job 24/7. He makes a lot more money then the average joe. Too bad. Deal with it. He can do things only a tiny percentage of people on this planet can do, and gets paid by a corporation rolling in dough. The steelers, I believe, are the only team that guarantees only 1 yr of the contract. Steelers stuck to their policy. Bell took a stand against that. Especially after the guarantees DJohnson and Gurley got. They got away with paying ABrown under market value for yrs too.

  29. If LeVeon thinks playing for a great owner and a players coach like Tomlin
    is dehumanizing, then he’s about to get slapped awake by some harsh reality.

    Could swear this was the organization that stood by him during
    his drug suspensions and worked to get him focused on getting
    his life, and priorities straightened out.

    Attempting to smear them now is how he pays them back?
    Loved watching him play, but he comes off like a delusional,
    ungrateful punk.

  30. When you hold out one season and then don’t show up at all the next season, why would they treat you like a part of team? Bell is just another selfish player.

  31. Bell lost $14 million bucks so he can play video games and music. Pretty expensive hobbies. Money that he will never earn back, no matter how long he plays football.

  32. If Bell thinks it’s only the Steelers that expect the players to be players then he is in for a rude awakening…fairly certain the Pats would have cut him the first time he said he was going to be late because he was playing Fortnite. If he thinks the Steelers are strict then he has a 0% chance of ever signing with the Pats.

    This guy has made me defend the Pats…

  33. Dang he is still crying. He is lucky he is not in the real world. It is business, they paid you millions. Hopefully he can find his safe space with the Jets.

  34. Lmao so Eli Manning gets dragged through the mud because his GM traded away his WR..so what about Roethlisberger? At least Eli isn’t driving off his star power by being a diva. Steelers fans can keep acting like Bell is the only one saying bad things about Ben/Steelers but the fact is so is Antonio Brown..and Jesse James..and Josh Harris…and Isaac Redman..and Hines Ward. Mike Munchak himself left for a lateral job as well.

  35. I highly doubt the Steelers don’t treat their players as being “human.” It’s probably more like them expecting their players to do what’s required of the job they signed up for. There are plenty of other jobs out there if football is too much of a commitment. If I were him, my life would be all football for 10 years or so and then I’d do whatever I wanted after I retire for the next 50.

    Tons of people would kill to be in your position with that kind of earning potential. Grow up and recognize your blessings.

  36. I have had to explain this to millennial employees several times. It’s not always fun, It’s work / your job, that’s why we pay you. If it was fun all the time like Disney or Dave & Busters, you would pay us.

  37. He cost himself millions of dollars by overvaluing his worth on the free agent market and is bitter. He would have made more money if he had signed the Sleelers offer and is just bitter and trying to find other reasons he walked away. I thought players would learn from Kaepernick who opted out of a guaranteed $12,5000,000.00 only to find out there was no market for his services.

  38. I am so glad that Bell and mr. big chest are gone from the Steelers. Ungrateful, spiteful, and not worth the trouble. Let’s see how the rest of your careers turn out.

  39. Yeah. I have to limit my kids time playing video games and TV too. They are 8 and 10. If they did this themselves I wouldn’t have to set limits but they are kids, not professionals. Maybe Bell should be more responsible for himself so people don’t have to set limits. Most people labeled as professionals at their craft can do this themselves.

  40. I don’t give my kids an allowance. But if I did give them an allowance, like Bells millions of dollars, you can bet I would be making sure they earned it.

  41. I still play video games, I still make music. They don’t want to allow you to be yourself. They want you to be, if you’re a Steelers, you’re literally playing football 24/7. You’re not supposed to be playing video games and like making music, playing basketball. You’re not supposed to be doing that. You’re supposed to be working out.”


    I think what Bell is trying to say is “I’m a big shot now, let me do what I want, when I want. Rules don’t apply to me.”

  42. This is a meaningless rant, as anyone who has played football at the high school, college or professional level can say the same thing. In HS, you’re given a uniform, which, except for your number, makes you pretty much the same as anyone else wearing that uniform. You then warm up and do group calisthenics before splitting up into positional groups. This is designed to give you a group or herd mentality. You need it, as it indoctrinates you into buying into that you’re really part of a greater team. Team first, you leave your individuality in the locker room.

  43. He ain’t wrong. Most humans don’t get paid millions to play a game. Most humans get paid less than they are worth. If they get paid at all. Most humans would gleefully accept the inhumane treatment this guy has “endured”.

  44. So he expects the Jets to let him play Fortnite and make his music any time he wants and he will work when he feels human enough. Yea that will go over well in NY…

  45. @tedmurph

    “The steelers, I believe, are the only team that guarantees only 1 yr of the contract.”

    While they don’t generally offer multi-year guarantees, I’m pretty sure they are not the only team to structure contracts in this way. Also, if you look at the stats, the Steelers are very faithful in paying out contracts, even to players that have been signed for up to 5 contracts. So, they typically don’t just cut guys loose, at times, much to their detriment. (IMO)

    Pats fans please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe the Pats typically offer a large percentage of the contract to be guaranteed. At least from what I’ve read, even in TB’s last deal, the signing bonus was all that was guaranteed.

  46. Bell can’t make up the money? Sure he can. He probably extended his career a year by not playing last year. He’ll get a do over, not a lost yr. It was a year of his prime, he may not make up the whole 14.5, but the extra year, plus what he got from the Jets is pretty close. Counting only the Jets guaranteed money, he’s already made 52 mil for his career. He ain’t gonna starve.

  47. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly why I am glad he is gone. Its jut not worth the headache he brings to the team.

  48. If Pittsburgh is such a great place to be, why does everyone want out? Tomlin has lost control of the ship, and everything revolves around Ben. Meanwhile, the team struggles.

  49. “While the process was rocky and some remain determined to declare Bell a loser (presumably so that they can say they were right about their position that he shouldn’t sit out the year”
    Uh, count me amongst the ones “determined to declare Bell a loser.” It’s pretty simple, he sat out for one reason – money. He got less money than if he’d signed with the Steelers last year. He lost a year he cannot get back. He bet on himself and lost. There’s really little to quibble about here.

  50. Turned down a reported 30 mil guaranteed and 42 mil over 3 years to play for 12.1 mil, forfeit 14.5 mil, sign for less money to play for a team that likely won’t be in the playoff hunt…makes perfect sense.

  51. tedmurph says:

    March 20, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    Bell can’t make up the money? Sure he can. He probably extended his career a year by not playing last year. He’ll get a do over, not a lost yr. It was a year of his prime, he may not make up the whole 14.5, but the extra year, plus what he got from the Jets is pretty close. Counting only the Jets guaranteed money, he’s already made 52 mil for his career. He ain’t gonna starve.

    Sure he will. He’ll be 31. That’s what teams look at. The Jets aren’t paying him that cash to touch the ball a whole lot in the next four years. He’s not getting another big pay day.

  52. The Steelers handling of contracts is out of date and out to lunch.

    1 yr guarantees aren’t going to cut it for players that have options, and both bell and AB had options. The Steelers can say “tough luck, that’s how we do things here” and the players can equally exert their rights to get outta Dodge.

  53. Who says he can’t have a personal life? He had the entire off season to play video games & work out. During the season, some of that had to be curtailed a bit because the upcoming game and practice means more. He’s exaggerating to get his point across, and failing.

  54. New York City is going to eat this kid’s career alive. He won’t even finish out this contract.

  55. Not what I want to hear if I’m the Jets. Nothing wrong with hobbies but be a professional, work hard, and take your job seriously year round. That’s what the Steelers wanted and that’s what they deserved. Not smoking dro and playing games and than getting suspended. Grow up

  56. he knows.. you don’t. Stop treating the guy like you know him and have some insight that he doesn’t. He may be wrong and others may disagree with him that do know. He is telling you what he thinks that is all. Take it for what it is and move on.

  57. hagemeisterpark920 says:
    March 20, 2019 at 10:58 am
    What a clown. Embarrassing to say the least. This guy would get chewed up and spit out by the real world.

    and he will, just give him time and it definitely will not be his fault

  58. “Bell can’t make up the money? Sure he can. He probably extended his career a year by not playing last year.”
    Playing and getting paid at age 26 is different than age 30.
    He didn’t hit pause on the aging process. Time stops for no man.
    And teams will pay him way less at 30 than 26.

  59. You get the feeling he is stretching himself to rationalize taking the Jets deal after being so negative on the Steelers offer and sitting out a year. Now it is about not caring that he plays video games.

    I guess the Jets care.

  60. What a Moron. They constantly tried to make him the highest paid runningback in the league. Then, he complains about Ben saying, ” Ben wanted to win his way.” Really?

    Ben put the ball in Bell’s & Brown’s hand most of the time but he’s trying to win “his way??” Bell has been smoking too much weed and it’s very obvious that Brown and Bell were the problem on that team. Two Primadonnas that became to big for their pants. Steelers can now get back to playing team football instead of “me, me, me” football.

  61. Bell: “They don’t treat you like you’re human”

    Yeah, that’s why they converted Ryan Shazier’s 2018 salary to a signing bonus which allowed them to pay him 8+ million in one lump sum when he was injured. They also have stated they are resigning him (vet minimum) this year, even though he will not play a down of football, so that he can continue his rehab with the trainers at the facility.

    Bell is a clown.

  62. If my employer were to pay me 14.5 Million for a year I would set fire to all my video game equipment, cut off all extra curricular activities…. I’ll eat, breath and sleep at their facility 24/7

  63. Bell needs to take a page from Cameron Wake. He doesn’t eat anything bad for him, works out line a friend. Says there will be time to eat cheeseburgers, relax when his careers over.

  64. I’m not clear on why the blame falls on the Steelers and their “stubborn refusals” to kowtow to a guy with multiple injuries, multiple drug suspensions and a poor attitude?

    They put their best offer on the table and Bell opted for what he perceived to be a better deal. The Steelers have another Pro Bowl running back in his place at a fraction of the cost.

    The only person still crying is the supposed big winner in all of this, Le’veon Bell.

  65. Well,then quit football,give up all the money they’re paying you,and go play video games and “make music”. Teams have a right to expect the people they are paying a ton of money to take it seriously. Act like a 12 year-old in the off season,Le’Veon.

  66. “Why do low IQ guys always seem to say “You know what I’m saying?”


    Because they can’t explain it out loud.

  67. You don’t compare what Bell would be paid when he’s 31 to what he missed last yr. A reasonable comparison is what Bell makes when he’s 32 vs 31. He made up for last yr THIS yr. He got the going rate guaranteed, equal to the 12.5 and 14.5 tag numbers. The steelers did offer 70 mil for 5 yrs, with 33 to be paid out over the 1rst 2 yrs. BUT, ONLY 10 mil was fully guaranteed.

    Connor had a great year, but he’s not just as good as LBell. Connor had 1470 total yrds. Bell averaged 1925 his last 2 yrs, and had to be gameplanned for.

    Steelers missed the playoffs WITH ABrown. Get ready for 9-7.

  68. The fine points of NFL contracts and salary-cap issues aren’t my forte, but it seems–factoring in a year of lost wages, the higher tax rates in New Jersey, and the lesser prospects of the Jets–Bell made a poor deal. Really, though, who cares? A healthy Bell is a great back–a better back than Conner largely because of his catching ability. Unfortunately, he spent a lot of his time with Pittsburgh sidelined from suspension or injuries even before he sat out. Feels as though I’ve heard his name much more in the last year than I ever heard it during a game. In the free-agency era, players come and go. Better not to get attached to them.

  69. SWFLPC.INC says:
    Why do low IQ guys always seem to say “You know what I’m saying?”
    Because they have no clue what they are talking about and they’re hoping we can explain it to them.

  70. Doubt thats the truth. If that’s the case why isn’t that the case with JUJU. He does all of that. If your on Steeler time, its supposed to be like that, It’s a job LB. You’ve made your bed, move on. The Steelers are done with you.

  71. Being a selfish ingrate didn’t look good in black & gold. We’ll see how he wears it with green.

    I agree with many other posters: Me’Veon won’t even finish his contract in NY.

  72. It’s attitudes like this, that soon will cause me to change my viewing habits on Sundays once the great one TB-12 retires. The game isn’t even close to being what it once was. Maybe I’m not very good with change!!

  73. The fact that the Steelers stood by Bell when he was suspended twice THEN valued him enough that they were willing to make him the highest paid RB at one time and wanted him to remain with the team that drafted him and took a chance on him just proves how cruel they were to him! 🙄 Bell’s trying to deflect attention from the fact that he sat out a year thinking he was gonna get paid the most and ended up getting a so-so deal and now looks foolish. he’s a Jet now, so his criticisms of the Steelers is irrelevant

  74. Our military members are paid pennies and expected to work 24/7 and this guy is crying about not being able to play a video game while making millions for playing another? If any of us were to try to take a year off because we were afraid to get hurt or couldn’t play a game I think that would go a little differently. What a joke! I’m not sure what’s worse, the fact he seems to truly feel like this or the fact this article seems to defend it. “Won his freedom” after being offered only 12 Million dollars because it wasn’t guaranteed LOL… Look at his attitude towards the team, his many suspensions, his crying that they made him work too hard. Why would anyone guarantee him a penny?

    The NFL and it’s spoiled entertainers will not get another penny of my money. They’ve turned a game I used to like into just another reality show.

  75. And this is why the Steelers can’t beat the Patriots. Notice how Bell said a great owner and coach. Who is missing from that list? The last of the remaining B’s.

  76. “They aren’t treating you like a Human Being?
    That’s because they didn’t DRAFT a human being.
    They drafted an NFL Running Back.”
    (Thank you to the late great Bernie Linccicombe, Chicago Trib)
    The sooner you realize that the better things will go for you…

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