Since Le’Veon Bell started his holdout, a few players and analysts gave their opinion on how the running back should proceed the rest of the season. None of those opinions have been as creative as the one offered up by former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison.
Harrison appeared on FS1’s “Undisputed,” where he said Bell should return to the Steelers at the latest date possible and then fake injuries to ensure he remains healthy all season.
"If I'm Le'Veon, I'm coming back November 13th, and I'd give you everything in practice … but come Saturday. Something ain't right. I can't play on Sunday." — @jharrison9292 pic.twitter.com/wwRhutWnd2
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) September 25, 2018
Here’s the relevant quote from Harrison via Deadspin:
“I think the play for Le’Veon, if I’m Le’Veon, is I’m coming back November 13 and I’m gonna go in there, I’m gonna get my credit for the season I need to get, and I’m gonna do the best I can to get out of that season healthy. And, for me, I’d give you everything in practice, you would see—the cameras would see that I am fine, I am healthy. But come Saturday, ‘something ain’t right, I can’t play on Sunday.’ Because if I go out here and I mess something up I’m losing a lot of money.”
Under NFL rules, Bell has to report to the Steelers by Nov. 13 if he wants to become a free agent at the end of the season. If Bell holds out until then, he would report to the Steelers after their Week 10 game against the Carolina Panthers.
However, as Harrison notes, if Bell reports without a long-term deal, he risks getting hurt in those final regular-season games. If that happens, Bell has no chance of receiving the mega-contract he wants.
In order to ensure Bell remains healthy all season, Harrison suggests Bell practice during the week, but then fake injuries so he doesn’t have to risk playing in games.
Harrison has it all planned out, too. By practicing during the week in front of the media, Bell could show other teams he was 100 percent healthy. They would know he wasn’t actually dealing with a serious injury, and that would hypothetically convince them to spend money on Bell once he became a free agent.
Would it work, though? While Harrison should be commended for his innovative and absurd solution to the issue, it might be tough for Bell to pull off. It would be obvious what Bell was doing, and the Steelers wouldn’t be too happy. Given how quickly the team has removed Bell from its depth chart and active roster, there’s potential for things to get even uglier if Bell came down with phantom injuries before every game.
Bell may not want to take Harrison’s advice, but after hearing his teammates trash him for holding out, Bell can take solace knowing at least one former Steeler is in his corner.
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