In the wake of the announcement that Le’Veon Bell was potentially being suspended for missing a couple drug tests, fans were quick to ridicule and call out the star running back and seemingly turned their backs on him.
Earlier this offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers suffered the year-long suspension of emerging star wide receiver Martavis Bryant. The seemingly flawless offense that Pittsburgh was waiting to unveil had suffered a major setback, and the hopes of a record-breaking season grew dimmer.
One of the things keeping Steelers fans excited was the return of Le’Veon Bell. When healthy, Bell is maybe the best running back in the league and dominates both the pass and run game making him one of the most dangerous players in football.
With his combination of patience, elusiveness, and strength, Bell is capable of creating big plays on any snap and is a joy to watch. He’s a special player, and while he’s filled with question marks and uncertainties, he’s a risk worth taking.
When the news of his potential suspension released, an uproar across Steeler Nation broke out. Fans were quick to denounce Bell calling him selfish, immature, and anything negative that came to mind. I’ll admit, I felt the same way. I was disappointed, angry, and frustrated with Bell, as most fans were.
With that being said, it’s not in the fan’s right to judge the player. It was impossible to really understand the situation with so many different perspectives coming out, and not knowing who to trust, so it’s equally as impossible to write an informed message to him.
Suddenly, Bell spoke out and assured fans that he wasn’t going to miss any games, and that this was all a misunderstanding. His side of the story is that his phone number changed so he did not receive notification of the tests, therefore was unable to attend them. Suddenly, fans seemed to be back behind him just as quick as they were to bash him.
It’s really hard to know who to believe. Until the full story releases, it’s impossible to really comprehend the situation. Bell might very well serve a 4-game suspension, but there’s at least a chance that it could be reduced or even that won’t serve it at all.
Loyalty to a team means loyalty to the players on the team. We don’t know what these players are going through, and we don’t know what exactly occurred. If a player is suspended, and they are going through something that we are unaware of, and then they see all this ridicule and hate toward them, it’s only going to push them down further.
When Martavis Bryant was suspended, the same thing happened. Fans were quick to judge, but were sympathetic once they found out that he might actually be going through depression, and that he is really having a tough time, and needs help. It was really heartwarming to see all the fans offer their support after that was announced, but they were still the same fans that hated on him just days before.
In situations like these, fans need to wait for all the facts, and be prepared to have the back of the player. Of course the behavior can’t be condoned, but to show support in times like these can truly be a difference maker. It’s not right to bash someone only to take back your statements once you hear the full story.
If the initial story holds, Le’Veon Bell’s actions were inexcusable, and definitely impacts the level of trust that the team has for him. With that being said, it’s our job, as loyal fans, to offer our hand and help him instead of push him down further.