With chaotic norms starting to creep back in, Le’Veon Bell has emerged as a solid counter of sanity for the New York Jets.
The New York Jets timeline is defined by different segments of teardowns and rebuilds. Constant changes, after all, are required when you’re unable to string together a playoff streak longer than two seasons.
Such renovations are often defined by a player or mishap, like Rich Kotite‘s two-year reign or the infamous Butt Fumble. Even the successful transactions, like the drafting of Ken O’Brien (three picks before Dan Marino), are tainted by questions of what might’ve been. Outside factors, like having the arguably greatest dynasty in NFL history reside in your own division, certainly don’t help.
This latest turnaround had New York buzzing.
Nine wins have been accumulated over the past two seasons, but it’s perhaps one of the most inspiring 23-loss stretches in recent history. Sam Darnold and Jamal Adams give them franchises faces on both sides of the ball. A cap space surplus yielded name-brand talents like Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley. Incompetence from their MetLife Stadium roommates even set the Jets up for an opportunity to take over the metropolitan football scene.
Typical Jets lunacy, however, rose up before Bell and Mosley donned their first game jerseys.
The Jets bid general manager Mike Maccagnan farewell on Wednesday morning. Vice President of player personnel Brian Heimerdinger was likewise let go. The move’s timing was curious enough, as Maccagnan was granted control of almost a full offseason that was anything but typical. In addition to their $100 million space, the Jets also held the third overall pick of the NFL, which was used to select Alabam defensive lineman Quinnen Williams.
Rumored strife between Maccagnan and new head coach Adam Gase forced the Jets’ hand. At the source of the feud, according to reports, was Bell.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said that Gase wasn’t comfortable with the $52.5 million price tag attached to Bell’s service. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reported an even more dire situation, one that said Gase didn’t want Bell in New York at all.
Bell took to social media to defend his honor.
Even if reports are true, that won’t stop me from doing what I came here to do…everyone has a job to do, and I’m gonna do mine whether peopIe “like” me or not. I’m here to win football games.
— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) May 16, 2019
Bell’s comments proved polarizing. Some saw it as a continuation of Bell’s 2018 saga. Last season saw a dispute over a franchise tag cost him all 16 games. Considering his then-employers in Pittsburgh actively wanted him back on the field, critics believe Bell’s legacy could only be further tainted knowing that Gase, now with full control of the squad as interim general manager, wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about his arrival.
Contrarily, Bell has emerged as a stable prescience on the Jets in a time they desperately need to regain that sense of security.
Bell’s first days as a Jets have failed to quell all of his aforementioned critics. His failure to show up at optional minicamp only added fuel to their fire, though it didn’t seem to faze Gase.
The running back’s New York prescience has mostly been relegated to social media. It’s an avenue that has been the downfall of several high-profile athletes. But these websites and apps have showcased Bell’s one goal in New York: win.
It was present in the last sentence of his Wednesday defense. “I’m here to win football games.” That’s been Bell’s goal since he arrived, and he shows no signs of relenting. This month has been particularly rife with proof of Bell’s mindset. Internet confrontations with fans never seem to end well, but Bell handled an antagonistic approacher with gusto. While his claim of missing minicamp could be described as somewhat tepid, he reiterates a desire to help his new team win. Another closing sentence reveals no lies.
Public Service Announcement ? pic.twitter.com/pX7jB1w8Ft
— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) May 7, 2019
January, of course, is the month that holds the NFL playoffs, a precipice the Jets haven’t reached in nearly a decade. It seems to be Bell’s primary focus, even as he engages in extracurriculars like a burgeoning music career. His online dedication to a new cause only amps up the anticipation toward his on-field debut in green.
Bell has also appeared to reach a sense of relative tranquility with the squad he left behind. A select number of his posts also bear well-wishes and inspiration toward his black and yellow successor, James Conner.
Happy birthday my boy ??? @JamesConner_ pic.twitter.com/Vd8LitQMcI
— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) May 5, 2019
Once he arrives, Bell is poised to be one of the biggest difference makers. He was brought in to ensure that the quarterback phenom Darnold doesn’t have to win games on his own. As such, he’s one of the names and additions that are going to define this latest New York project.
It’s not perfect … in the land of the Jets, it rarely ever is … but he’s already become one of the more positive developments of an organization desperate for traction. He’s passing his New York tests, whether brass wants him here or not.