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When it comes to applying and enforcing internal rules, the Steelers (like most sports teams) operate not with bright lines but a golf bag. And they carefully select a club based on, ultimately, the overriding duty to win as many football games as possible.
That’s why it’s no surprise that the Steelers won’t be suspending running back Le’Veon Bell or LeGarrette Blount for last week’s Cheech and Chong meets Dumb and Dumber marijuana episode.
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explains that the Steelers won’t suspend either player. He bases his conclusion on the plain language of the labor deal, which prohibits teams from taking matters into their own hands regarding alcohol and drug offenses.
While entirely accurate, that provision didn’t stop coach Mike Tomlin from sitting former Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes with pay in 2008, after a mid-week marijuana citation. It also didn’t stop the Steelers from suspending former defensive lineman Alameda Ta’amu after a DUI incident.
In this case, a suspension of the two players involved would put the team in a tough spot for the regular-season opener against the Browns. And so the discipline will be meted out in some other way, the team will defer (for a change) to the league office, and this specific incident of arguable compliance with the CBA will be forgotten the next time a guy who is less important to the cause gets in trouble and the team decides to make an example out of him.