Bell To Return Week 8, But Earl Thomas’ Injury Proved His Point

    Seattles six-time Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas held out all of the preseason and didnt report to the Seahawks until 72 hours before their opening game against the Denver Broncos. Thomas reluctantly returned to the team after demands for a trade or a long-term deal fell on deaf ears. 

    Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro running back LeVeon held out of preseason as well and missed the team’s first four games as he attempted to strong-arm a trade or a long-term deal before he risked injury on the field again. Bell turned down his franchise tender and the one-year payday that goes along with it in hopes of securing a mega-deal for his All-Pro services and protecting his future. 

    When Thomas’ season ended with a fractured leg on Sunday and he proceeded to flip his team the middle finger as he was carted off the field, the incident lent credence to Bells position. Thomas didnt want to report to camp because theres no security in one-year deals and no guaranteed that a career-ending injury won’t occur once you take the field. 

    Bell felt the same way, but it was announced that he would finally be returning to the team in Week 7 or 8. 

    SportsCenter on Twitter

    Breaking: Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell plans to return Week 7, the Steelers’ bye week, a source tells @JFowlerESPN.

    With the Steelers ranked last in the NFL in rushing yards per game since Week 1s big opening day, Bell’s point that his play-making would be desperately missed by the Steelers offense has been proven. His value has been proven. It’s not up to him to accept a contract that is below market standard for a player of his ilk. Pittsburgh’s 19 rushing yards Sunday were its fewest in a game since 1970. Im sure a call from Mike Tomlin begging Bell to return had something to do with the running back’s change of heart. 

    Adam Schefter on Twitter

    Steelers certainly could use Le’Veon Bell. Steelers rank last in the NFL in rushing yards per game (43.3) and yards per rush (2.8) since Week 2, and their 19 rushing yards in Week 4 were their fewest in a game since 1970.

    In fact, according to ESPN, Bell still has hope the team will re-sign him to a long-term contract once his franchise tag is up. Bell is staying away from the team to preserve his body, but Bell plans to be ready for the Week 8 matchup with the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 28 in Pittsburgh and will decide how much practice time he needs accordingly, a source said.

    Bell, who is still sitting out while refusing to sign his franchise tender, said he’s in prime physical condition and could play football “tomorrow” if he needed. He added he’ll be “fully committed” to playing his best for Pittsburgh upon his return.

    “It sucks having to sit out football,” Bell said by telephone from South Florida on Monday. “I want to play. I want to win games and the playoffs. “But I’ve gotta take this stand.”

    Adam Schefter reports that the Steelers will welcome Bell back, but are still open to trading him. 

    Sapere Aude on Twitter

    ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the Steelers are still “expected to be interested in listening to trade offers” for holdout Le’Veon Bell.

    There are a lot of opinions flying around about Thomas and Bell’s business approach. Some fools are still under the impression that team loyalty means risking your livelihood for other peoples gain. There’s definitely sacrifice involved in playing a team sport and some players fall into the selfish category, but disagreements between players and owners about value and worth spurn uncomfortable, but understandable negotiation tactics by both sides.  

    Bell’s $70 million offer from Pittsburgh over the summer contained $17 million in guarantees. That wasn’t enough when Todd Gurley and David Johnson received between $31 million and $45 million in guarantees. Bell called the Steelers’ $70 million “Monopoly money.”

    Bell said that despite criticism from his teammates and fans, that Thomas injury, which leaves the safety with no long-term security, convinced him that he made the right decision. 

     “It’s costing me some fans,” Bell said. “A lot of people call me selfish but I’m really not. I’m doing it for guys behind me or guys who don’t understand what’s going on in the business of football. The 22 years I’ve been playing football, I’ve always brought value. I don’t think the Steelers valued me as much.”

    Before Von Miller broke the mold in 2016 and inspired superstars to go all in instead of risking long-term injury for short-term cash, when a superstar player was having negotiation problems with his team, he would be labeled a franchise player and receive a juicy payday for the season, with intentions of renegotiating after the season or walking away from the team to sign a long-term deal elsewhere.

    When a player takes a stand and raises the salary bar, it helps all of the players in the game.  

    ESPN Stats & Info on Twitter

    Per @AdamSchefter, Aaron Donald is receiving $87 million guaranteed on his new deal That’s tied for the 4th-most guaranteed money on any current contract It’s $17 million more than the next highest defender (Von Miller – $70 million)

    Besides the one-year salary, the team holds all of the power in this situation because they are getting another full season out of the players career, but the player has no security if he gets injured or suffers a career-ending mishap.

    “Knowing my worth and knowing I can tear a ligament or get surgery at any time, I knew I couldn’t play 16 games with 400 or more touches, ” Bell said. 

    Millers historical hold out marked another victory for players rights and adjusted the financial disparity between ownership and the product that makes ownership rich. Miller held out for a long-term deal with the Denver Broncos rather than accept a franchise tag. After a game of chicken, Denver eventually had to succumb to the demands of the games greatest defensive player. 

    Miler signed an NFL record deal for a defensive player. 

    Von Miller, Broncos Reportedly Agree To Record-Setting Deal

    Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller has agreed to terms in a new deal with the Broncos, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. NESN.com’s Courtney Cox discusses the contract. For more: http://nesn.com/2016/07/nfl-rumors-deal-is-likely-between-broncos-von-miller-after-latest-offer/. Produced by Keely Flanagan

    The beef shouldnt be with the players. If fans have a beef it should be with the owners who try to pinch pennies and undervalue superstar players who keep their billion dollar cash cow flowing. The NFL can longer hide the potential brain and body damage that NFL players experience and the lasting health repercussions long after the roar of the crowd has subsided. 

    Corey O on Twitter

    The NFL is steering kids under 12 away from tackle football. But what are they doing to help their retired players with injuries, especially those who have a high likelihood of CTE?

    Players are hip to this and want to ensure that the money they are pulling in is on par with the risk, performance, and production they are providing. Its just good business and any owner should respect that.

    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.