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Have Your Say: Does a Player's Personal Interest Ever Come Before the Team?

A few weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers were preparing to play without star running back Le’Veon Bell for the fourth consecutive game, it was looking more and more likely that the three-time Pro Bowler may have played his last down in Pittsburgh.

Trade rumors were starting to swirl and it was unclear whether the Steelers even wanted to keep Bell around. It was a difficult situation for all involved.

Bell was holding out over dissatisfaction with his contract situation. The Steelers wanted to use the franchise player designation on him this season, which would pay him $14.5 million for 2018. But Bell refused to sign, believing he is worth more than that and deserving of a long-term deal. He must sign the deal by Week 11, however, if he wants to be a free agent in 2019.

Bell may very well hold out that long, as he is still no-show coming into Week 9. A trade is tricky given his contract status, but it could be worth it for Pittsburgh if the relationship is irreparable. Bell’s teammates want their colleague to be paid fairly but they also want him back in the locker room. Some have been resentful that he is putting himself before the team.

The two perspectives played out during the Monday Night Football broadcast between the Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Color analyst and former NFL player Jason Witten stated that he thought Bell should rejoin his teammates. Fellow NFL alum Booger McFarland, working the sidelines, disagreed, saying that Bell needed to ensure he gets what he deserves.

So in what circumstances does a player need to put the team first and when does he need to take care of himself? Should money ever come before the team? We chastise players all the time when they appear to “quit” on the team. Is this any different?

What’s your take?

Take 1: The team comes first, always

A player should never put him or herself before the team. The only time in which that is acceptable is if a player is injured, or some other circumstance in which their participation would only hurt the team. Otherwise, a team can only function if everyone is in it together. How are teammates going to feel if they’re out there giving it their all, and one guy is holding them back because he’s worried about himself? That’s not a team at all.

Take 2: Players have a duty to themselves

In any sport, but especially professional sports, management or coaches are not always going to look out for your best interest. A player has to be loyal to his or her team, but within reason. Nobody should be blindly loyal if they are being taken advantage of. At the end of the day, this is just a game, and a player needs to look out for him or herself as a human being first.

So are players loyal to their teams no matter what? Or should they look out for their best interest in certain situations? Have your say in the comments below.

From GameChanger and Todd Kortemeier.

Photo credited to Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports

"Have Your Say" in some of our other opinion pieces here.

ethics in sports, sportsmanship, have your say, football