Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison offered some unusual advice to Le’Veon Bell regarding his ongoing contract dispute, saying the disgruntled running back should return to the team but fake an injury to avoid playing in games.
Harrison, who endured a messy split with the Steelers last season, was asked about Bell’s situation Tuesday during an interview with FS1.
“If I’m Le’Veon … I’m coming back, what is it, Nov. 13?” Harrison said, referring to the deadline Bell must report to the Steelers by in order to accrue the necessary service time to become a free agent in 2019. “I’m going to go in there, I’m gonna get my credit this season that I need to get and I’m going to do the best I can to get out of this season healthy.
“For me, I’d give you everything at practice. You’d see — the cameras would see — that I’m fine, I’m 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.”
Bell has refused to sign his franchise tender of $14.5 million and has forfeited $2.6 million by missing Pittsburgh’s first three games. The Steelers recently began listening to trade offers for Bell, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Harrison said he thinks a trade involving Bell is unlikely and also warned that a return to the Steelers would be difficult for the three-time Pro Bowler, citing the “friction” in the locker room.
Harrison, 40, retired from the NFL earlier this year after a 15-year career — including 14 with the Steelers — that included five Pro Bowl appearances, two Super Bowl titles and a Defensive Player of the Year award.
Harrison, unhappy with a reduced role with Pittsburgh last season, asked to be released by the Steelers, who ultimately granted his request in December. Harrison signed with the rival New England Patriots three days after his release.
The saga drew criticism from some of his Steelers teammates, with center Maurkice Pouncey saying that Harrison “erased his own legacy” with the team. Harrison is the Steelers all-time leader in sacks with 80 1/2.