Rossi: Steelers Way? Deactivate Bell, Blount
Time is up on the Steelers Way. At least it is if Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount play Sunday.
Make them watch, Dan Rooney.
Make them pay a price, Kevin Colbert.
Make your wrong a right, Mike Tomlin.
This is an easy decision despite ridiculous verbiage in the labor contract. The Steelers should look for loopholes, and if there aren't any, they should just go ahead and do what's right.
Bell and Blount should be deactivated for the regular-season opener against Cleveland. No win is more important than the integrity of a flagship franchise. No loss would be tougher to overcome than losing the public's faith.
It's no longer just about what Bell and Blount are accused of doing Aug. 20, though what Bell is charged with doing — driving under the influence of marijuana — was worse.
It's about what the Steelers have done since.
Tomlin said Bell and Blount playing in the team's third exhibition game could be considered a form of punishment.
What was he smoking?
Troy Polamalu played. So did Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Lawrence Timmons. Dick LeBeau and Todd Haley coached.
Bell and Blount were busted for pot possession about an hour before the Steelers' scheduled flight to Philadelphia a day before that exhibition game against the Eagles. They should not have played at Philadelphia. They certainly shouldn't have been the only running backs to carry the ball.
Now the plan is to hand it off to them against the Browns in a game that counts.
What about taking a stand?
What about sending a message?
What about the standard being the standard?
The Steeler Way is all talk, and it's talk their fans are fools to believe.
James Harrison stayed, Bell and Blount will play, and guys like Cedrick Wilson and Santonio Holmes were exceptions to a rather obvious rule when you're in Steelers Country: Winning is more important than anything.
That's not necessarily the worst approach to take in the NFL. It's just not different than ones taken by the other teams.
The Steelers aren't special.
What are they?
Ideally, they would be the team that employs a future Hall of Fame safety who is so proud and competitive that he can't hide his dissatisfaction when the defense is being carved by the first- and second-team Eagles offense in an exhibition game.
Except that before Polamalu lost it (by his normally reserved standard) in that game at Philadelphia, TV cameras caught Tomlin congratulating Blount as he jogged off the field after a run.
That was no way for the head coach to behave given the circumstances, and not because families — including Tomlin's — were watching.
Tomlin's other players were watching, and that's about all they've looked to be doing since the incident involving Bell and Blount.
Nobody can convince me that didn't contribute to the completely flat Steelers' performance at Philadelphia. Nobody can convince me that incident might not have set a deafening tone for an important season.
Consecutive 8-8 seasons don't cut it for the Steelers.
What also shouldn't cut it is failing to make public any discipline dolled out to Bell and Blount. Tomlin reiterated Tuesday that he won't say how his running backs will be punished.
“That'll be between us, and I'll stick to that,” Tomlin said.
Deactivate Bell and Blount against Cleveland.
That should be the Steelers' way.
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
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