LATROBE – Following the sudden and shocking arrest of starting running backs Le’Veon Bell and LeGarette Blount for 20 grams of marijuana in suburban Pittsburgh, the proud Pittsburgh Steelers and Steeler Nation got a long overdue slice of proverbial humble pie.
An organization that prides itself on it’s six Super Bowls, multiple Hall-of-Famers and the loudest and best traveling fan base in the NFL in Steeler Nation, the Steelers have for years looked down on other teams and rival fans when their players got into trouble off the field.
As someone who lived in Pittsburgh for over ten years, this writer can give first-hand accounts of Steeler fans chastising bitter archrival Ravens fans for the off-the-field troubles of Ray Lewis, Jamal Lewis and most recently Ray Rice.
While deserved, Steelers fans have for many years have been both enabled and empowered by an ingrained superiority complex.
Funny thing is when the tables are turned and rival fans point to the two alleged sexual assaults of star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Georgia and Nevada, and the marijuana charges that would see former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes shipped out of the Steel City, these same boisterous and short-sighted fans go silent or become very defensive.
All NFL teams have players who get into trouble off the field and have had incidents, Pittsburgh fans—by and large—seem to have an aversion to this and choose to live in a self-insulated black-and-gold bubble where their own players can seem to do no wrong, yet when they do, blame others for their own actions.
They have no problem chastising the likes of Josh Gordon for possibly getting suspended for an entire season, yet they passionately and vocally come to the defense of Bell and Blount?
Before coming into the NFL, Blount punched a Boise State player after a game, has had various run-ins for attitude and work ethic and is now on his fourth NFL team in four years.
Make no mistake, Blount has the potential to be a dominant and bruising NFL back—as his style fits Pittsburgh perfectly, but for such a rigidly and structured organization such as the Steelers to gamble on the likes of Blount is very surprising.
While Bell does not have the checkered past that Blount does, one better believe that the Rooney’s and head coach Mike Tomlin are less than thrilled deal with a first-round pick that has an affinity for Mary Jane.
Blount is on the wrong side of 20 in a position that grinds out backs before they hit 30 and Bell has a promising future, but both need to decide if a baggy of weed is worth throwing away a multi-million dollar future.
Until then, Steeler Nation and their fans will need to keep their derisive comments to themselves, unless they want their running game to be known as the NFL version of Cheech and Chong instead.
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