The Le’Veon Bell Saga finally came to an end. Bell will sit out an entire season in hopes of being the top grossing runningback in the NFL. In holding out, Bell has lost over $14.5 million dollars in revenue. In order for this to be a good business decision, he would need a contract to net him $14.5 million more than the opportunity cost. Unfortunately, like in many situations, the opportunity cost is difficult to calculate. This would include lost regular season and postseason wages (every player makes the same in post season, to Bell’s dismay.) Another factor is sponsorships. He’s not Peyton Manning, who can not play but still have more screen time than many. By holding out, he is missing out on sponsorship deals and also hurting his prospective sponsorship deals in the future. Again, this is difficult to calculate, but I have assembled three reasons why the opportunity cost is more than likely going to be far higher than what Le’Veon will ultimately achieve from his antics.
Lost Monetizable Time
It is well known that football players do not have long careers playing at the professional level. Runningbacks put on miles, take hits, and are an overall riskier position for player’s bodies. Practically speaking, there is only so much time Bell can play football at the elite level that he has been. He just wasted one of, likely, two or three years left of being top five. And outside of this elite tier, Bell isn’t going to make what he thinks he deserves.
System Runningback Question
In the olden days, and still today at times, striking workers are replaced by people they call scabs. In the football world, this concept was made into a movie called, The Replacements, where protagonist Shane Falco leads a team of replacements to the playoffs because the star players were striking for more money. Pittsburgh didn’t call Shane Falco, but they do have James Connor. Connor, by many metrics, outperformed Bell, proving that the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t need Bell. In the recent past, they turned average runningback, DeAngelo Williams, into a top runningback in Bell’s absence further, proving that the Steelers backfield can enhance talent, thus undermining Bell’s worth.
If Le’Veon Bell is given the money he thinks he deserves, a precedent will be set. That precedent will support unruly employees refusing to perform awaiting higher compensation. This is bad for business. What is likely to occur in the offseason is that the owner’s will lowball Bell in what may appear to be an unspoken collusion. Bell can complain or even file a grievance, which he’d lose because of the other reasons, but at the rate he’s going it’s unlikely that an Owner is desperate enough to seek short term gain at the expense of creating a precedent that will undoubtedly be replicated.