“Mongo only pawn in game of life.” -Mongo
If you’ve seen the great Mel Brooks’ movie ‘Blazing Saddles’ then you know that line. I’m not saying Le’Veon Bell is just like Mongo, but I can’t help wonder if he isn’t in a similar spot. Mongo was played of course by NFL Hall of Famer Alex Karras. About the only thing he and Bell have in common is that they have both dabbled in the entertainment business and perhaps that’s where Bell will now place his focus. The idea that the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t give him a fair offer is laughable and I’m not going to re-visit it.
Personally, I moved on from Bell after week one. I want my team to have guys on it that want to be there. That ship sailed early on for me because the more I think about it the more I realize Bell did nothing but lie. He was dishonest with fans and with teammates and he continued that behavior for the better part of a year.
But here’s where the ‘pawn’ part comes in. It has become clear to me that Bell’s agent, Adisa Bakari is using Bell for his own personal gain. Had Bell signed the Steelers’ last offer Bakari was still going to make out just fine. NFL agents typically receive 3% of their client’s football income.
But Bakari isn’t the one with a clock on his career. Bell, as a running back, is in the process of wasting one of his prime years. Sure, the wear and tear on his body will be reduced but he’s still going to be a year older. With most running backs seeing a major drop off by the age of 30, Bell’s time is running out whether he has a year off or not. This is a point ‘Tunch and Wolf’ have mentioned on numerous occasions on Steeler Nation Radio.
Bakari is clearly willing to gamble on Bell’s holdout because it doesn’t matter to him. He isn’t the one with the playing career that is dwindling. Where it does help Bakari is that if Bell gets that monster deal (he’s likely to) then he can point to that when looking for new clients. That’s all fine and good but do I as a player really want to miss an entire season?
And for what? Look at the animosity Bell has created. He’s persona non grata in the city of Pittsburgh now which is sad considering how beloved he was at one time. But what’s worse for Bell is that the guy who has replaced him has been just as good and far more loved than he ever was. I don’t put all of that on Bell because I honestly don’t think he knows any better. No one knows this more than Bakari who has taken advantage of Bell the whole way.
Has anyone considered what Bell’s approach would be in the postseason? Bell doesn’t earn a dime from the Steelers as players in those games are paid by the league. Players earn about $25,000 to $30,000 in the Wild-Card Round and that increases only slightly as they advance. If Bell wasn’t willing to play for $855,000 per game in the regular season why would he play for those peanuts?
If in fact Tuesday comes and goes and Bell does not report as media publications have stated, I will celebrate. I will celebrate no longer having to discuss the “what-ifs” for the remainder of the season. I resigned myself a long time ago that THIS was our Steelers’ team for 2018. The guys I support are on the field and whether this team goes to the Super Bowl or not doesn’t matter to me. I’m much happier rooting for this team without Bell than with and I’m not alone in that sentiment.
You may not see Bell as the pawn I believe he’s become but it’s hard to ignore the possibility.