Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Think Patriots drama is bad? At least they aren't the Steelers.

Alex Reimer
June 13, 2018 - 3:24 pm

Patriots fans who continue to fret about the weirdness in Foxboro can take solace in the fact that things seem even worse in Pittsburgh. 

The Steelers’ offseason started with a shocking playoff loss to the Jaguars, which led to squabbling amongst teammates about whether they spent too much time talking about the Patriots (yes, they did). Days later, it was reported running back Le’Veon Bell missed nearly the entire walkthrough before the Jaguars game, appearing to prove the point that Pittsburgh overlooked its Divisional Round opponent.

The headlines for Bell have gotten worse from there. He lashed out at the Steelers when they franchised him before free agency and hasn’t shown up to OTAs. Last season, Bell didn’t report to training camp until there was roughly one week left, and it looks like he may pull a similar stunt this summer.

Other Steelers players appear slightly annoyed at Bell’s absence. "I think last year a lot of guys were like, 'Oh, Le'Veon's not here,’" wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler recently. "Nobody cares. We're out here and we have to get work done. ... We'll see him when we see him. Next man up.”

Antonio Brown expressed support for Bell, but added that “the first rule of getting better is showing up.”

History shows Bell can deliver even when he doesn’t practice, as he rushed for 1,291 yards and gained nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage last season. But still, it’s not good when your star running back is reportedly looking for $17 million annually, and says he refuses to show up until he gets it.

Brown didn’t show up at OTAs until this week, citing media pressure. "I can't go nowhere and work out by myself, fans come meet me at the field -- I can't do nothing normal,” he told reporters Tuesday, per USA Today. “You guys write about me every day. I started to think to myself, ‘Am I really free?”

Good to know Rob Gronkowski isn’t the only NFL superstar pondering the question of freedom. 

Much like Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger has missed portions of OTAs, though he did return last week. When asked about his absence, Roethlisberger said the younger QB’s on the roster were grateful for the extra reps. One of those younger quarterbacks is rookie Mason Rudolph. Roethlisberger didn’t exactly give him an open welcome when the Steelers selected him in the third-round.

“I was surprised when they took a quarterback because I thought that maybe in the third round, you know you can get some really good football players that can help this team now,” Roethlisberger said in a radio interview, as transcribed by USA Today. ““Nothing against Mason. I think he's a great football player. I don't know him personally, but I'm sure he's a great kid. I just don't know how backing up or being the third – who knows where he's going to fall on the depth chart – helps us win now. But that's not my decision to make.”

All of the Steelers’ public sniping make the Gronk trade rumors, Brady’s non-mandatory practice boycott and Julian Edelman’s positive PED test seem like minor annoyances. It could be worse, and a lot louder. 

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