Starkey: Stupid Steelers
Maybe Ryan Clark was right about some former Steelers teammates smoking pot.
I arrived at PNC Park on Wednesday prepared to write about the Pirates going down in flames. The topic quickly turned to the Steelers going up in smoke.
Rather than chronicling Pirates pitcher (Le)Gerrit Cole, I quickly moved to Steelers running backs LeGarrette “Roll me Another” Blount and Le'Veon Bell, who went all Cheech and Chong before a team trip to Philadelphia.
How incredible is that?
How stupid and disturbingly unprofessional are these guys if all of this is true?
At 2:35 p.m., the Steelers, clearly unaware that their running game had possibly gone to pot, tweeted a photo of newly signed defensive end Brett Keisel making his way through airport security. Good times!
About an hour earlier, though, a Ross traffic officer on motorcycle detected smoke coming from a black Camaro that Bell was driving, with Blount in the passenger seat and a female passenger in the back.
Police say they found 20 grams of pot in the car. They plan to charge Bell and Blount by mail with possession of marijuana. They also said they plan to charge Bell with DUI for driving under the influence of marijuana. Police said Bell, Blount and the woman claimed ownership of the pot.
At first blush, this might not seem like a huge deal (unless, of course, your children were playing in the vicinity of a man possibly driving stoned). And it probably won't be a big deal from a disciplinary perspective. Possession and DUI charges are misdemeanors. The NFL might levy some fines.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin must do more than that.
Bell is his guy, his draft pick. This is a slap in Tomlin's face if true. It's a massive embarrassment. Tomlin also has to wonder if Blount, 27, is a bad influence on the 22-year-old Bell.
Do you still want Blount around, or do you want to give him the Jose Tabata treatment and move him away from younger players for fear of poisoning them?
There is precedent with Tomlin regarding this kind of case. He suspended receiver Santonio Holmes for a regular-season game against the New York Giants in 2008 after police charged Holmes with possessing a small amount of marijuana (Holmes helpfully told the officers that he'd smoked pot in the vehicle the day before).
One difference is that Holmes, unlike Bell or Blount, had been through previous legal issues as a member of the Steelers.
Still, if the charges are true, the two showed an incredible lack of respect to Tomlin and the organization.
As such, Tomlin should suspend Bell and Blount for the season opener against the Cleveland Browns, at the very least.
Meanwhile, all of this occurs against the backdrop of the State Attorney's Office in Florida still examining evidence to determine whether it should charge Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey with misdemeanor battery. Pouncey is accused of punching a woman in the face in an alleged altercation at a Miami nightclub.
More information is needed on all fronts, but you have to be wondering if the Steelers might have a severe character problem.
The night at PNC Park, by the way, ended with a dramatic comeback win. No victory cigars, though.
Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 FM. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.