As the 2020 NFL season has come down to the last matchup, two familiar faces in Pittsburgh will face off against each other in the Super Bowl. Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown who were once teammates will now become foes as they face-off on opposite sides of the football chasing a Lombardi Trophy. Steelers fans will be watching from their couches in frustration and anger hoping that somehow both teams lose this year. The once known Killer B's of Ben, Brown, and Bell had the Steelers faithful hopeful they could deliver their "Stairway to Seven" to become the only organization with seven Super Bowls. However, it went completely South and had Steeler Nation in a rut. Steelers fans have been through a lot of ups and downs throughout the years especially after the golden era in the 70s. Big Ben has delivered the Steelers 2 more Super Bowls in the 2000s, but since then it has been a rocky road.
Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell both had ugly breakups with the Steelers, an organization and city that they both loved very much. They gave it all for the City of Pittsburgh that had the entire fanbase behind them for their stints in da Burgh. However, things got messy with the front office and their two star players in the matter of two seasons, and all hell broke loose. The Steelers had the best players at both skill positions and managed to fumble the bag and lose them both. When both players left, they were portrayed as the bad guy, divas, and drama queens. However, it seems to me as the media lied to us and that wasn't the case at all. Both guys made off-field mistakes during their stint with Pittsburgh, but they loved the Steelers too much to betray them. I think the Steelers betrayed Bell and Brown causing them to react the way they did and had the type of exit that killed every Steelers fan's hopes and dreams.
Leveon Bell was a G with the Steelers. He changed the way the running game was in the NFL with his great patient and stellar vision. People were comparing Bell's running style to the way Steph Curry changed the NBA with the 3-ball. Bell was so good with the Steelers that other backs were trying to copy his style of running. Bell's workload with the Steelers proved him as the NFL"s premier back with no one arguably better than him at the time during his prime years. His workload as a patient running back as well as an elite pass-catcher out of the backfield made him an unstoppable force. With Bell in the backfield, he provided the Steelers with one of the best running games in the league. He wanted to be the league's highest-paid running back because that's what he was. The dude was getting almost double the touches than any other back at the time and he wanted to be paid if that was going to be continued. The Steelers kept using their franchise tag on him to buy them time and never came close to what Bell even wanted.
Bell, who was a Steelers fan growing up felt he was disrespected by the team and he sat out a whole season. He went to the Jets the following season and wasn't even close to the same back we saw in Pittsburgh. However, it is the JETS so no one expects anything less. During the 2020 season, he demanded a release from the Jets and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in hopes of getting a Super Bowl Ring. Bell has not provided much for the Chiefs, even when Edwards-Helaire was injured as they gave Darrel Williams a majority of the carries. Bell isn't there to help the Chiefs win though, they don't need him, he's just there to collect his ring if they repeat in Super Bowl LV.
This video by TM productions shows you how great of a player Bell was with the Steelers.
With Bell in the backfield, AB was another beast outside the hash marks. Big Ben's favorite target to say the least. Ever since I can remember Ben has been the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was too young to remember Tommy Maddox or Kordell Stewart, but my earliest Steelers memories involved Big Ben as the QB. There is no other person who Ben tried to force the ball to than Antonio Brown. AB was so elusive and dynamic almost untouchable. AB the best receiver in the league hands down when he was on the Steelers. There is no argument there, I have never seen a guy work so hard to get where they are because he loved the game and the city of Pittsburgh so much. He gave it his all and the Steelers let him down. The number of plays and impossible catches he made with the Steelers is uncountable. He was a special player and the Steelers wasted his talent. He made catches you didn't even know were possible.
I will never forget Week 16 in 2015 on a cold December night in Pittsburgh when the Steelers played the Broncos at home with a playoff spot and the AFC North Division at stake for the Steelers. I was at that game when the Steelers went down 27-10 at halftime to Brock Osweiler and former Steeler Emanuel Sanders had like 200 yards and a TD at the half. I don't know what happened in the locker room at the half, but the Steelers came back a different animal. Chris Harris Jr was covering AB all game and he was the best lockdown corner at the time. He had let up zero touchdowns all season and then it came time to cover AB. It was the first touchdown he had let up in 2 years and AB made him look like a fuckin fool that night and put up 16 receptions for 189 yards and 2 tuddys which included the game-winning TD. AB was the man and couldn't make my 15-year-old self any happier that day.
The aftermath of both these bad breakups leads me to believe that it was the organization's poor judgment and management all along. As a lifelong Steelers fan, it pains for me to say this but I definitely think the organization botched this one. They had a good thing going with one of the most high-powered offenses in the league and they let it all go. Now I have to watch both Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell play for a Super Bowl Ring while the Steelers sit home after another abysmal end to the season.
Let's Take a Closer Look:
After getting blown out to the Cleveland Browns in the Wild Card round this season, the Steelers late-season collapse was just another meltdown this decade. Since losing Super Bowl XLV to the Packers in 2010, the Steelers organization has fallen flat for the last decade.
2010- Lose Super Bowl XLV
2011- Lose Wild Card to Tim Tebow in OT
2012- Miss Playoffs
2013- Miss Playoffs
2014- Lose Wild Card to Ravens
2015- Lose Divisional to Broncos after late game Fumble
2016- Lose AFC Conference Championship, Pats blow-out
2017- Lose Divisional at home to JACKSONVILLE after going 13-3
2018- Miss Playoffs after staring 7-2-1
2019- Miss Playoffs after starting 8-5 and finishing 8-8
2020- Lose Wild Card to BROWNS, start season 11-0, finish 12-4
The results speak for themselves. Before, During, and After the Bell and Brown era, we are seeing the same abysmal results from the Steelers. Things need to change in the City of Pittsburgh and they need to change fast.