The NY Jets’ locker room was reportedly “blindsided” by the release of Le’Veon Bell.
Le’Veon Bell‘s future with the NY Jets has seemed uncertain for quite some time now. But while most didn’t expect him to play with the team come 2021, it was assumed he would at least make it through 2020.
At the very least, few saw it ending like this.
After a fallout with his head coach and the organization, the Jets sought a trade involving their star running back — something they likely would have done regardless. However, they couldn’t find any takers for Bell’s hefty contract.
In hindsight, his substantial injury guarantees for the 2021 season likely contributed to that fact. And as a result, the Jets opted to cut ties a few months earlier than expected releasing Bell just five weeks into the season.
Bell’s release surprised fans and league officials alike. But it also seems to have been a shocking development for Bell’s now-former teammates.
ESPN’s Rich Cimini reported on the Jets’ decision to release Bell on Thursday and he detailed the locker room’s reaction to his departure. It doesn’t seem as though many are very happy about the move.
“Without question, the Jets’ locker room was blindsided by Bell’s ouster. This is the kind of move that can galvanize a team or cause it to rebel against the coach. Cynics will say the Jets (0-5) are playing so poorly it will be tough to differentiate between a rebellion and a normal day at the office, but there could be tell-tale signs if the team quits on coach Adam Gase, whose job security is waning.”
The NY Jets’ locker room didn’t see Le’Veon Bell’s release coming.
Cimini touches on how the locker room was “blindsided” by Bell’s release and how it could affect team chemistry. He even speculates that it could result in the team quitting on Adam Gase.
One might look at the Jets’ performances over the last few weeks and assume that they already quit on their heavily-scrutinized head coach. But perhaps we haven’t seen the worst of it yet.
No matter what narrative some might try to present, Bell was an extremely popular player in the locker room. The young players looked up to him and the veterans respected him as a true team leader.
As Cimini details, some of his younger teammates were originally starstruck by the All-Pro running back’s arrival in New York last year.
“When he arrived last year as a ballyhooed free agent, some of his younger teammates said they were starstruck because he had always been one of their favorite players in the Madden video game.”
Bell quickly won over his teammates with his work ethic and leadership. Few players in that locker room were as dedicated to their craft as Bell and that’s evidenced by the work he put in this offseason to get in the best shape of his life.
It’s very possible that many players on the Jets aren’t appreciative of the way that Bell was unceremoniously dumped midseason. And it will certainly be interesting to see the effect that has on team morale.
The Jets’ players weren’t expecting this. And it’s unlikely that they take too kindly to the departure of their well-respected locker room leader.