photo - Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
There really is no discussion needed.
The Steelers are James Conner’s team.
He’s not going to tank. He’s not going to fail. He has an indomitable spirit and a will that simply overcomes every doubt anyone has had or still has about him.
That’s not overstating it – it’s just true.
Le’Veon Bell has badly overplayed his hand. He, along with many who ignored what Conner has already overcome in his life, adversity far greater than anything he will ever face on a football field, underestimated Conner’s ability and his determination.
Even Mike Tomlin, who has reserved praise for Conner, indicating a preference for Bell (hard to blame him – Bell is a terrific football player), may have turned the corner when he responded to a question about Bell’s absurd absence with a not-so-coy, “We want volunteers, not hostages.”
Bell over values his ability to be split out wide. The Steelers’ 2018 offense has not suffered without Bell and the running game is better. Yes, better. Conner is on pace to rush for more than 1,400 yards at 4.7 a clip. He is also on pace for a Bellesque 75 catches and 750ish receiving yards.
At somewhere around $750,000 in salary, comes out to a little more than $350 a yard. Bell wants $8,095 for the same production.
I’m no math whiz, but . . .
The other side of the coin is Conner’s character and Bell’s lack thereof. Conner’s story meshes well with the city in which he plays, and his real triumphs over adversity are inspirational.
Bell – that’s a well documented story, on his Instaface or Twidiot feed, where he has occasionally “explained” his transgressions. They are hardly inspirational, but are quite funny.
Also funny is that Tomlin characterized Bell as a “hostage.” Perhaps the Steelers would be better served releasing their hostage (not metaphorically, but actually) and allowing another NFL team to make the huge mistake of grossly overpaying Bell.
Pittsburgh has been lucky to have some of it’s best athletes double as excellent people – Andrew McCutchen, Sidney Crosby, and Troy Polamalu come to mind immediately. Conner is cut out of the same mold. Pittsburgh is a better city with athletes like James Conner. The same cannot be said for Le’Veon Bell.
- What the actual fudge is going on with the Pens on home ice? I turned to my reliable sources, James and G, for some insight. G thinks the Pens are playing Matt Cullen too much. Five seconds of ice time is too much TOI in my mind for Cullen, who really offers a lot of nothing, but it is more than that. James agrees with me that the blue line is not very good. Matt Murray is shaky at best at home, and that is not good enough when the D turns over the puck and lapses in their own end more than a bankrupt man on a million-dollar loan.
- G and I do completely agree on Daniel Sprong. Why is he on the fourth line? Makes no sense. He has a scoring pedigree and is buried on a line with Cullen and some guy nobody knows, plays six or seven meaningless minutes a game, and gets no time with the power play units. We don’t get it. Is this Mike Sullivan’s way of flexing his muscle and letting Jim Rutherford, who assured everyone that Sprong would be in the mix this year, know he is not a Sprong fan? Maybe put the kid on Sid or Geno’s line and let’s see if he can actually play. He is not a fourth-liner, but Carl Hagelin is.
- The Pirates have released Josh Harrison and Jung Ho Kang, two players who were supposed to be key contributors the past two seasons, but were not for different reasons. This opens the door for younger players to blast through, but the Pirates might be better served looking elsewhere to fill the gaps, especially where Kang is concerned. Colin Moran is a nice guy which is the best thing that can be said for him as a baseball player. Limited range at third and a weak bat for his position, Moran will continue to be a liability for the Pirates in 2019. They should be looking around for a better bat. The money saved on the Harrison/Kang departures could augment a payroll increase and land the Pirates more offense, especially power, and give them a chance to compete in 2019. Then again, Huntington and company could continue to spew nonsense about frugality and internal options, and hope again for a mediocre record and a fourth-place finish in the NL Central.
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