James Harrison, the Steelers all-time sack leader, went on Second Take Tuesday, to talk football and the ongoing Le’Veon Bell situation with Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe. Harrison was reliably anti-authority and pro-players looking out for their money during his playing days, and here he was firmly on Team Bell, which is refreshing.
He did note, though, that Bell will need to get credit for this season in order to force Pittsburgh’s hand next offseason, and that will mean showing up no later than the Tuesday after Week 10. But showing up under the franchise tag means Bell risks being injured playing, say, in Week 11, and potentially ruining his chances at the kind of long-term contract he’s after in free agency. Here Harrison offers a fun solution to this problem:
“I think the play for Le’Veon, if I’m Le’Veon, is I’m coming back November 13 and I’m gonna go in there, I’m gonna get my credit for the season I need to get, and I’m gonna do the best I can to get out of that season healthy. And, for me, I’d give you everything in practice, you would see—the cameras would see that I am fine, I am healthy. But come Saturday, ‘something ain’t right, I can’t play on Sunday.’ Because if I go out here and I mess something up I’m losing a lot of money.”
As Sharpe and Bayless point out, this would be similar to the position taken by Earl Thomas, who is playing in games but sitting out practices as needed in order to protect his body. Probably it wouldn’t fly, but the idea is very funny, and it may come to something like this if the Steelers can’t swing a trade and are unwilling to meet Bell’s contract expectations. It definitely says excellent things about labor relations in the NFL that this kind of thing is even being discussed about one of the best offensive players in the sport.