Pittsburgh fans fell in love with the play of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell over the years. How they went from fan favorites to the most disliked Steelers.
If you were to any NFL pro shop or local Walmart over the past several years, it would have been impossible not to notice an Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell jersey hanging in plain view. Brown and Bell were two of the most popular Steelers over the past decade, and they had a chance to keep that trend going much longer.
However, the only Brown and Bell jerseys we will be seeing now in black and yellow are the ones marked down on the clearance rack.
Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell were beloved by Steelers Nation. They were excited offensive players who were both considered some of the best players in the league at their respective positions.
Brown was a 4-time consecutive All-Pro wide receiver, who at his peak saw a 136 catch, 1,834 yard season in Pittsburgh. Likewise, Bell was a 2-time All-Pro who produced 3 seasons of 1,200 rushing yards and at least 600 receiving yards.
Pittsburgh fans couldn’t get enough of the two superstars. But when they turned their backs on the team, Steelers Nation turned their backs on them.
Bell’s falling out came last offseason when he decided to hold out the entire 2018 season in pursue of more money. Despite a extremely generous deal offered up to Le’Veon Bell, the All-Pro running back rejected the team that made him famous – electing to test his luck in free agency instead.
Brown, on the other hand, played football last season. But much like Anakin to Darth Vader, we witnessed an ever so gradual transition to the dark side for Antonio Brown. From the Facebook live fiasco to the speeding incident to social media antics, Brown was making the news for all the wrong reasons.
The final straw was when he walked out on the Steelers in their darkest hour, before a must-win game against the Bengals to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Brown and Bell both forced the Steelers’ hand, and Pittsburgh had no choice but to part ways with the All-Pro players. The awful way in which they chose to leave the Steelers still leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of Steelers fans.
Fans were furious with everything these two players put this franchise through, and the drama they brought to Pittsburgh football – so much so that it no longer mattered how good they are. We were done with them, and ready to move on with a team of players who wanted to play for each other; players who cared about winning.
The organization felt the same way. Though they have shown great respect for star players in the past, they did no such thing with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. In fact, they elected to give Brown’s once iconic number 84 away to an undrafted tight end in Steelers rookie mini camp.
Brown and Bell had a chance to leave a legacy, and go down as some of the most beloved players in the history of the franchise. However, as it often does with professional athletes, greed played a role.
The two stars become too focused on their own statistics and personal fame that they were no longer welcome in the city of Pittsburgh.
Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell may be able to go on and do good things for their new teams, but their legacy in Pittsburgh will always be tarnished. It didn’t matter that they were great players for the Steelers. Their actions caused them to be some of the most disliked players this franchise has seen.