Le’Veon Bell is gone from the Pittsburgh Steelers, and apparently, so is any trace that may have been left of him in the locker room. New reports allege that Bell’s teammates were at the Steelers’ facility on Wednesday afternoon, where they ransacked and divided up the possessions the stud running back had kept in his locker room.
NBC Sports reported that some of the players who competed alongside Bell throughout the five years he wore a Steelers uniform were pulling items out of his locker less than 24 hours after he failed to meet the 4 p.m. deadline he was given to show up and sign on to play for Pittsburgh for the remainder of the season.
Per USA Today’s Steelers Wire, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and local anchor Josh Rowntree were among those who tweeted about the alleged plundering. According to Bouchette, the gang went right to work after their midweek practice, with Bell’s nameplate being removed and everything from his suits to his sneakers being passed around for keeps.
In a recording that ESPN‘s Jeremy Fowler posted up on Twitter after receiving news of the squad’s actions, linebacker Bud Dupree thanked Bell for the cleats he left behind in his locker.
“I appreciate the cleats, my guy. Appreciate the cleats, man, you know what I’m saying? But I hope you the best, man. Wish you success, my guy. But I appreciate the cleats.”
Laughter could be heard in the background as Dupree fits on one of several pairs of Jordan Brand footwear he had before him.
Steelers players removed Le’Veon Bell’s name over his locker and are now plundering it, dividing up his many football shoes and other stuff— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) November 14, 2018
Steelers players went into Le’Veon Bell’s locker, removing his nameplate and rummaging through items. Bud Dupree says thanks for the Jordan brand cleats. pic.twitter.com/gQaAu9hUPd— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) November 14, 2018
In his coverage of the post-practice shenanigans, Fowler noted that the collective’s attitude was “more playful than malicious.” Such may have been the case, but earlier reports have claimed that Bell’s refusal to report caused a rift among teammates for some time.
Per CBS Sports, some of the Steelers’ offensive linemen, including Maurkice Pouncey and Ramon Foster, seemed to be taking Bell’s hiatus personal early on in the season, as they voiced their discontent with him over social media and during interviews. However, at some point, it was established that they would no longer speak on Bell, and with the Steelers riding a five-game winning streak to the top of the AFC North division, their efforts to refocus on the men who actually show up each week has apparently worked.
ESPN’s Fowler did manage to get veteran guard Foster, who is the Steelers’ NFL Players Association representative, to state his opinion on the entire ordeal.
“We fall short on things because guys get selfish or guys say, ‘Hey, yeah, we’re going to take a deal.’ We’ve got to inform ourselves this next time around so this type of stuff doesn’t happen,” said Foster.
“I hate it. [The franchise tag] could be good for both sides because you’re one of the highest paid at your position. But they retain your rights so you don’t hit the open market.”