Category Archives: Pittsburgh Steelers

Why was Melvin Gordon’s Holdout so Different from Le’Veon Bell’s?

By Drew Gallagher

October 7, 2019

Drew Gallagher is a second-year Sport Management student with a minor in General Business at Bowling Green State University. Drew is a proud native of Aurora, Illinois and is interested in many sports, but focuses primarily on baseball and football at the professional and collegiate levels.

On Wednesday, September 25th, Melvin Gordon of the Los Angeles Chargers decided to end his hold out and returned to his team. His hold out for a better contract began in training camp and lasted until week 4 of the NFL season (Gordon, 2019). In the middle of the holdout in early August, “Melvin Gordon’s agent Damarius Bilbo [had] requested that the Los Angeles Chargers trade his client” (Abdeldaiem, 2019, para 1). The holdout included its share of ups and downs, but still seemed relatively quiet. This is especially apparent when put side-by-side with Le’Veon Bell’s 2018 holdout which lasted the entire season.

As a reminder, Le’Veon Bell was a member of the Steelers who was also in the last year of his contract. He decided in training camp that he wanted to hold out for a long-term deal with his current team. Both his camp and the Steelers had many separate contract negotiations throughout the preseason and early 2018 season, but no new deal came about. Because of this, he ended up foregoing the entire amount of the franchise tender that the Steelers had offered him, and he sat out the entire season. Gordon however, has had very similar circumstances, but still gave in to his holdout not even a fourth of the way through the year. One of these similarities is that both teams seemed to get by equally fine with their backup running backs (Ekeler and Conner) who thrived without their first string counterparts. This begs the question: how did the differences between the two affect the outcomes of their respective holdouts?

For starters, media coverage seemed to play a big role in how people perceived both incidents. Le’Veon Bell is known to be a very outspoken individual. He was constantly doing interviews and posting on social media to talk about his displeasure with how his holdout was going. Because of this, I believe that the media had a lot more interest in the story. Gordon, on the other hand, seemed to stay relatively quiet during his holdout and therefore had less coverage coming his way. This could very well be part of the reason why Gordon decided to come out of his holdout part way through the year unlike Bell. Without the constant media coverage, fans weren’t as eager to see the deal get done. This meant that Gordon had significantly less leverage than Bell when it came to contract negotiations.

Another reason that could be equally responsible for the difference in the holdouts is that If Gordon didn’t “play at all in 2019, his contract would… just transfer to 2020, when he would then be scheduled to earn $5.6 million once again” (Graziano, 2019, para. 5). However, Bell did not “have this problem because of the franchise-tag rules, which would have forced the Steelers to pay him nearly $21 million this year if they had wanted to franchise him for the third year in a row” (Graziano, 2019, para 6).

Whether the contracts themselves had the largest impact on the differences between how the respective holdouts ended up could definitely be debated. What is clear though is that the difference in media coverage definitely affected them in some way. I can definitely see similar circumstances affecting future holdouts as well.

 

References

Abdeldaiem, A. (2019, August 1). Melvin Gordon’s agent requests trade amid contract dispute with Chargers. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved from https://www.si.com/nfl/2019/08/01/melvin-gordon-trade-request-chargers-contract-dispute

Gordon, G. (2019, September 25). Melvin Gordon ending holdout, will report to Chargers. nfl.com. Retrieved from http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000001058986/article/melvin-gordon-ending-holdout-will-report-to-chargers

Graziano, D. (2019, August 8). Why you can’t compare the Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon holdouts to Le’Veon Bell’s. ESPN. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/27342231/why-compare-ezekiel-elliott-melvin-gordon-holdouts-leveon-bells

Understanding the business of the NFL Offseason and Antonio Brown’s “Fake News”

By Jordan Moening

Jordan Moening is a first-year undergraduate student at Bowling Green State University. He is a Sport Management Major with a Minor in Journalism. He is also a native of Wapakoneta, Ohio and is a huge lover of sports, mainly football, basketball, and soccer.

March 15, 2019

On March 10, 2019, Antonio Brown announced his intention of signing with the Oakland Raiders. Two days before his announcement, the Buffalo Bills were planning on signing him to their team. Antonio Brown quickly responded on the NFL’s Instagram by posting a comment saying, “Fake News.” This begs the question of how the business of the NFL operates during the offseason.

To start, the new league year for signing free agents technically started on March 13th. Since then, players have been getting their official new contracts. Free agency and the NFL draft are the two most important components of the off-season. Depending on the team, either one could be more important (If the team is rebuilding with younger talent, then it would be the Draft; if they are looking for an “all-in” year, they are looking to the Super Bowl). The real intrigue of free agency happened only a couple of days before the new league year opened. Teams need to make cap space for rookies and new players that they want to acquire. The best way to do that is to release a player and remove that player from the team’s payroll. Some teams sign players off of waivers after they have been released, and there are some trades between teams. The main trades that occur are between players and draft picks.

Some players have to make hard decisions about where they want to play. The decision is usually not as hard for very good football players like Antonio Brown. He can play for just about any team that he wants and get a big contract. Most teams hoping to acquire players need to look at their salary cap. Players that cut into the salary cap for a large amount of time cost a lot of money, and few players in the league are worth huge contracts that fill a lot of cap space, but Antonio Brown is worth it. According to NFL.com statistics, in 9 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he has recorded 837 receptions, 11,207 yards receiving on 13.4 yards per catch, and 74 touchdowns (“Antonio Brown,” 2019). Those stats obviously make him one of if not the best receiver in football.

“Fake News.” The sports media tweeted, made an Instagram post, and put word out about the trade of Antonio Brown. In an interview with ESPN, NFL.com writer Grant Gordon posted quotes of Antonio Brown in an interview, “I don’t even have to play football if I don’t want. I don’t even need the game, I don’t need to prove nothing to anyone, If they wanna play, they going to play by my rules. If not, I don’t need to play. Another quote stated, “Obviously, I want the game, but I don’t need the game, it’s a difference” (Gordon, 2019, para 4). I personally feel that Brown is trying to make the game about money, instead of loyalty to try to stay with the Steelers and see if they can win championships together in Pittsburgh. Another example of a player leaving Pittsburgh was former teammate Le’Veon Bell who signed with the New York Jets and left Pittsburgh.

In the long run, the NFL is a business and players are going to choose where they want to play. They will ask for however much money they want, and if the player is very good and fits that team’s salary cap, then that team will make it happen. In Antonio Brown’s case, it’s not “Fake News” that the NFL Offseason is still very fun to follow.

References

Antonio Brown. (2019). NFL.com. Retrieved from http://www.nfl.com/player/antoniobrown/2508061/careerstats

Gordon, G. (2019, March 3). Antonio Brown: ‘I don’t even have to play football.’ NFL.com. Retrieved from http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000001020572/article/antonio-brown-i-dont-even-have-to-play-football

Super Bowl LIII Recap

By David Dietrich

February 22, 2019

For the second year in a row, I was fortunate enough to be selected to work at the Super Bowl Experience as a member of the BGSU Sport Management Alliance. Last year’s trip was one of the best experiences of my life, and I had very high expectations for this trip. I wanted to take advantage of everything that Atlanta offered and genuinely soak in the experience. For much of last year’s trip, I was shell-shocked by the enormity of the entire spectacle, so I did not take much time to step back and think about how lucky I was. We had a slightly more relaxed schedule this year, so I had some time to literally sit down and soak it in.

I worked at the fan experience on Wednesday and Thursday, helping the guests at some of the attractions. My shifts included the NFL Draft Simulation, Champions Ring Display, and Punt Return Simulation. Each one offered different opportunities for different fans, so I was able to talk to and interact with fans of all ages. Many fans were proudly dressed in Falcons gear, with some Patriots and Rams fans spread throughout. Other popular teams included the Steelers, Panthers, and Saints.

On game day, my official title was “On Location Experience Wayfinder.” I was stationed directly outside of the pre-game party entrance, directing guests to their parties. There were three separate parties, so I had to inform the guests which direction their specific party would be. Unlike last year, this did not occur in the stadium, so we did not get to stay for the game. While this was a letdown, we knew in advance it was unlikely we would work inside the stadium. Fortunately, our credentials allowed us to enter the stadium on Saturday, which was our day off.

SB4

The main entrance to Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Mercedes-Benz Stadium is truly breathtaking, especially when it is prepared to host the biggest event in American sports. We were not allowed on the field, but we could get as close as the first row in the corner of the end zone. After taking a few pictures there, I decided I had enough time to trek to the top row and get the best view of the stadium. I spent about 20 minutes sitting in the top row, soaking in the view. I thought about how blessed I was to be able to be on this trip, sit in the stadium, and be a part of another Super Bowl.

SB2

My panoramic view from the top row of Mercedez-Benz Stadium

There are countless aspects that go into the planning and execution of the Super Bowl, but I particularly wanted to observe the media’s presence throughout the week. Media Day occurred on Monday, which was before we began traveling. I saw some of the highlights online, but they appeared to be the typical question and answer interviews that happen every year. During the week’s festivities, I witnessed several media members actively creating content.

One thing that stood out to me at the Fan Experience was the massive number of reporters. They often walked around with a camera and microphone, looking for interactive events and passionate fans. Some fans were interviewed, others were filmed while they participated in events. A handful of reporters participated in the events themselves, microphone and all. On gameday, I noticed a separate entrance for those with media passes. Security was extremely tight, so I assumed the area was reserved to screen the equipment being brought in by reporters, journalists, or photographers.

My biggest takeaway from the week was how important it is to pay attention to every detail, no matter how big or small. It could be making sure the case surrounding the rings is secure or making sure a local news reporter is able to get a clear shot of the Lombardi Trophy. It could also be taking a picture of a Falcons fan next to a replica jersey or directing a fan to the NFL shop. Our goal was to provide a unique and memorable experience for each fan, so maintaining enthusiasm and positivity were incredibly important during our long shifts.

My personal highlight occurred at Super Bowl Live, an outdoor event that was free to the public. Among the attractions was an interview stage, and I stood in the fourth row while Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was interviewed by Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer.

SB5

Browns QB Baker Mayfield answering questions from Jay Glazer

I was in awe of the presence of both men, one being my favorite athlete and the other being one of my favorite NFL media members. Witnessing a live media event from a close distance was remarkable, especially considering the people who were involved. This singular event was my favorite part of the week, but the entire experience is something I will never forget.

I would like to thank BGSU and the Sport Management faculty for preparing our group for the trip, we could not have done it without your expertise and support! I would also like to thank Cory Radebaugh and the rest of the Sport Management Alliance for organizing everything, their hard work and dedication made the trip a success! Finally, I would like to thank friends, family, and the community of Bowling Green for supporting me and my classmates, we are grateful for everything you do for us!

CLEan House: Browns Fire Hue Jackson, Media Members Speak Their Minds

David Dietrich is a second-year undergraduate student at Bowling Green State University. The Tiffin, Ohio native is a Sport Management major, with a minor in journalism. His primary sports interests are football, basketball, and baseball, at both collegiate and professional levels.

On Monday afternoon, the Cleveland Browns’ front office announced they would be relieving head coach Hue Jackson of his duties. This marks the sixth time since 2010 the Browns have fired their head coach after a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is justified by Sunday’s game, which was one of the ugliest games in recent memory. Jackson is notorious for leading his teams to competitive games, only to lose in the final minutes of the 4th quarter. This time, the Browns faced a three-touchdown deficit with under a minute to play. A last-minute touchdown drive against a cruising Steelers’ defense brought the score to a more respectable number, but the damage was already done. The day of reckoning had passed, and Jackson failed yet again.

Both local and national media publications are aggressively criticizing Jackson for his unsuccessful stint in Cleveland. The combination of his numbers (three wins and one tie in 40 games, good for a winning percentage of .088) and his constant mishandling of adversity made Jackson an easy target for frustrated writers and analysts. Terry Pluto (2018) of Cleveland.com  wrote that this action “won’t make things any worse” (para. 13), while SB Nation’s Ryan Van Bibber (2018) asserted that “Hue survived by creating chaos and then positioning himself as a victim and the one person who can clean it all up” (para. 36).  In perhaps the most opinionated piece, Pluto’s colleague Doug Lesmerises (2018) took several digs at Jackson, including “anyone could have done better” (para. 10), “every single problem Jackson faced for 2 1/2 seasons, he took and made it worse” (para. 19), and “the future of the Browns is brighter today because Jackson isn’t part of it” (para. 33).

Local media members will continue to take their shots at Jackson this week, then turn their attention towards interim head coach Gregg Williams as he prepares the team for a match-up against the AFC-best Kansas City Chiefs. Williams has not been a head coach since 2003. For now, Cleveland fans will do what they always do: tune in on Sunday afternoon and hope their beloved Brownies can somehow pull out a rare victory. This is potentially the most discouraged fan base across all major sports, and the loyal fans simply deserve better. As NFL teams progress through the back half of the season, there will be one question looming in the back of the minds of fans, players, and media members. For many people, it will be a rallying cry; for Browns fans, it will be a cry of desperation. As they try to salvage another disappointing season, Browns fans will be among many asking the all-important question: who’s next?

References

Lesmerises, D. (2018, October 29). Hue Jackson fired by the Browns, and no coach ever deserved it more. Cleveland.com. Retrieved from https://www.cleveland.com/browns/index.ssf/2018/10/hue_jackson_fired_by_the_brown.html

Pluto, T. (2018, October 29). Hue Jackson’s firing should set up John Dorsey to pick new Browns coach. Cleveland.com. Retrieved from https://www.cleveland.com/sports/columns/2018/10/hue-jacksons-firing-should-set-up-john-dorsey-to-pick-new-browns-coach-terry-pluto.html

Van Bibber, R. (2018, October 29). Hue Jackson finally ran out of excuses for the Browns being terrible. SBNation. Retrieved from https://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2018/10/29/18035166/cleveland-browns-hue-jackson-todd-haley-hot-seat-rumors-excuses-losses-steelers

 

National Media Aims to Make Le’Veon Bell Bad Guy in Holdout Fiasco

Drew Gallagher is a first-year undergraduate student at Bowling Green State University. He is a working towards getting a major in Sport Management and a minor in General Business. He is a proud native of Aurora, Illinois and is interested in many sports. He generally focuses on Baseball and Football at both the professional and collegiate levels.

Another week goes by as Le’Veon Bell still has not signed his $14.5 million franchise tender with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Being as good as he is, one would think that his teammates and fans would be incredibly eager to get him back. This might have been the case when the Steelers started 1-2-1; but after two big wins against the Falcons and Bengals, and two consecutive 100-yard, 2-TD rushing games from James Conner, fans in Pittsburgh are much less reluctant to beg for Bell to come back.

Le’Veon Bell is still of course the best running back in the league. Those involved with the Steelers have seemed to come to terms with the fact that chances are, they won’t have him on their team next year no matter when he comes back this year. Most fans have even gone a step further and are in hopes that he won’t come back at all. According to a poll surveyed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the largest newspaper in the Pittsburgh area, 66% of people don’t want him to come back (Cook, 2018). Ben Roethlisberger has also expressed his neutral stance on the topic (Gentille, 2018). While this may not completely be his fault, national media has tended to put the blame on Bell throughout this entire process.

At first, they reported the story as if he was a selfish person and wasn’t concerned with how his team would fare this year without him. While this may be true from a certain standpoint, it seems that it is rare for anybody in the national media to take Bell’s side throughout the holdout. The truth is that this entire issue has been a long time coming between Le’Veon Bell and his current team of five years.

Bell has previously expressed communication issues with the Steelers regarding a contract extension for the pro-bowl running back. These issues have dated back to the 2016 off-season after his rookie contract had expired. He has been tagged twice since then as the two sides have still been unable to reach an agreement on an extension. Near the end of last season, Bell made it known to the media that if the Steelers decided to tag him again, he would consider holding out or even retiring (Quinn, 2018). During this year’s training camp, he also made it clear multiple times that he would not play in the regular season without a long-term contract and a good amount of guaranteed money. The media still seemed to be surprised and disappointed when he didn’t sign his franchise tender before the season started, and they continue to feel the same way every week that has gone by since.

The fact still remains that Bell has been over-worked by the Steelers in the past and has continuously risked injury while playing a position that is arguably the most dangerous in an already dangerous sport. Continuing to play would be a huge risk for Bell without a long-term contract. We’ll see how long this holdout lasts, but I’d be willing to bet that Bell will continue to remain the bad guy in the eyes of the media until then.

 

References

Cook, R. (2018, October 15). Ron Cook: One Steeler ready for Le’Veon Bell’s return — James Conner. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved from http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/ron-cook/2018/10/15/Ron-Cook-Steelers-running-back-James-Conner-welcome-back-Le-Veon-Bell-Deion-Sanders-Ben-Roethlisberger-ESPN/stories/201810160027

Gentille, S. (2018, October 23). Ben Roethlisberger has thoughts on ‘Coach Todd’ and Le’Veon Bell. Sort of. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved from http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/steelers/2018/10/23/patrick-peterson-steelers-ben-roethlisberger-937-the-fan-leveon-bell-james-conner/stories/201810230110

Quinn, S. (2018, October 10). The unabridged timeline of Le’Veon Bell’s holdout. In 247sports.com. Retrieved from https://247sports.com/nfl/pittsburgh-steelers/ContentGallery/LeVeon-Bell-absence-timeline-121486548/#121486548_4