Mike Wallace, currently with the Philadelphia Eagles and a former wide receiver with the Steelers, posted on his Twitter account Thursday that Bell is being portrayed unfairly for staying away from the club in a contract dispute.
“It’s crazy how they will make you out to be the villain when you want what you’ve earned,” wrote Wallace, who spent his first four NFL seasons with Pittsburgh.
Bell has refused to sign a $14.5 million franchise tag while he pursues a new contract. Several of his teammates have been critical of the running back for not communicating with his fellow players. Center Maurkice Pouncey called Bell “selfish.”
The sixth-year running back could lose up to $855,000 per game if he remains absent.
In follow-up tweets while debating the merits of Bell’s holdout with Twitter followers, Wallace noted that every player’s situation is unique.
“Just because it sounds good to you doesn’t mean it does to him,” wrote Wallace. “We all have a life to live and sometimes that means making choices that people don’t agree with.”
Bell struggled out of the blocks in 2017 before finishing the season with 1,291 rushing yards and 85 receptions for 655 yards. Bell was selected to the Pro Bowl for the third time and was named All-Pro for the second time.
Wallace predicted if Bell makes a similar return this season, he will win over the Pittsburgh faithful.
“I guess we have to wait and see but ultimately it’s his decision and I think people should respect it and not bash him because soon as #26 is back on the field and scoring td’s everyone will love him again,” wrote Wallace.
James Conner, the replacement for Bell, had a monstrous season debut with 135 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 31 carries in a season-opening 21-21 tie at Cleveland.
However, Conner was limited to 17 yards rushing on eight carries in last week’s 27-21 loss at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s also had five receptions in each of the first two games.