Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell was busy on Twitter last Saturday night, claiming he was excited for the Steelers two “round twos,” which would have included a rematch with the New England Patriots in the AFC title game.
It turns out, Bell had some extra time on his hands Saturday because he reportedly blew off a walk-through practice the day before a divisional round playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
We all know how it turned out. Bell was looking forward to a round two against the Patriots but the Steelers couldn’t get by the Jaguars. Then on Friday, a story from veteran Steelers reporter Ed Bouchette said Bell showed up so late for a Saturday walk-through practice that he made it for only the last five minutes. Also, coach Mike Tomlin wants players and coaches arriving to the locker room two hours before a game, but Bell arrived “much later than that” for the game against Jacksonville. So did a coach, Bouchette reported.
When you add those reports onto Bell telling ESPN the week of a playoff game that he’d sit out or retire rather than play on the franchise tag in 2018, it’s not the best look. It’s not the best look either for Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who shouldn’t be fired over one playoff loss but certainly deserves some criticism for it. Yahoo’s Charles Robinson discussed the criticism of Tomlin and the various distractions the Steelers dealt with this season. The stories about Bell’s tardiness adds another layer.
The Steelers certainly seemed to be confident they’d beat the Jaguars, probably to the point of overlooking them as a speed bump on their way to face the Patriots. That’s a reason the Jaguars have been reminding the Steelers all week about their win. The Steelers have to fix some things in the offseason, and what to do with Bell is the most pressing question.
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