When Le’Veon Bell opted not to sign his franchise tender with the Pittsburgh Steelers this year, the Pro Bowl running back left behind a locker full of shoes, clothing and other personal items.
That locker apparently isn’t so full anymore.
After practice on Wednesday, the day after it became known that Bell would not play at all this season, some of the Steelers players raided Bell’s locker and claimed at least some of the items for themselves, according to multiple media reports.
“Appreciate the cleats, my guy,” said linebacker Bud Dupree, who appeared to have made off with two pairs of Bell’s shoes. “But I hope you the best, man.”
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that “the raide seemed more playful than malicious.”
Practice squad receiver Tevin Jones witnessed the scene and told Fowler of Bell’s belongings, “I’m sure they will get back to him.”
Bell received the team’s franchise tag for the second straight season. Last year he signed at the end of preseason, but this year his holdout continued into the regular season. By not signing by the Tuesday deadline, Bell is not eligible to play at all this season and forfeits all of the $14.4 million he could have earned.
The Steelers struggled early in his absence but have come on strong since, compiling a 6-2-1 record to sit atop the AFC North standings and in second place in the conference. Running back James Conner has thrived, with 771 yards and 10 touchdowns in 771 carries as well as 39 receptions for 387 yards with one touchdown.
“It’s kind of nice that it’s over,” guard David DeCastro said of the Bell saga. “We can just move on, keep getting James some more yards and keep winning games. It’s been fun, we’ve been on a fun roll and the season goes by a lot faster when you’re winning games.”