This was written over the course of the 2018-19 season. I’ve left it as is, but also written a little post-op on his contract in the addendum which you can find here.
I want to call this dude a nickname that fits his personality because as a Pittsburgh fan he deserves to be recognized for who he is. The way this guy’s holdout brought to light how much he loves sitting really made me upset. This is the one I came up with. I will be referring to him as Sitswell throughout the piece.
As a die-hard Steelers fan I took this whole saga personally because the Steelers mean a lot to the people of Pittsburgh; we bleed black and gold here. Throughout the entire first half of last season, Sitswell caused a dramatic distraction from what we care about as fans of the team; namely, the games themselves. Every single week, it got brought up. You can defend his decision to sit out this past season if you want—hell, you can even agree with it—but you cannot excuse the way he went about it. This is an arrogant person who was blinded by greed and fueled by immature pettiness. It’s sad really, but as a fan of the Steelers, it’s also upsetting. Because who the fuck does this guy think he is, a good rapper or something? Even good rappers should respect the peers and fanbases that made their career possible in the first place.
Let’s get some things straight. From a business perspective, I do not agree with his decision to sit out for the entire season because I think it actually lowered his market value. I think it was short-sighted, selfish and poorly calculated. In the long run, I think he will regret it.
That being said, there’s a reason his Steelers’ teammates were upset with him, providing quotes to the media that were honest and defamatory, and it wasn’t because of the decision itself. Respected veterans like Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster, and David DeCastro—the guys that directly affect Levy’s pockets by blocking for him—let it be known they were upset with how the whole saga played out. Ben came out and supported their comments, saying they were the most important players on the team. Sitting out for an entire season is one thing, but treating your teammates and fans poorly in the process is another entirely.
Levy never communicated with his teammates and left them completely out of the loop. He didn’t tell the fans anything until way after the fact and it was clear he was trying to cover his tracks. He let douchebags like this guy take videos of his out of shape ass “coolin on jet skis in Miami” while his brothers in arms were losing close games in Pittsburgh. That is blatantly disrespectful on multiple levels. He was never concerned for the team that was floundering to start the season, although later on in the year, he fucking liked it when they lost to shitty teams
And in doing all of this, I realized: the guy just doesn’t give a shit. He just clearly does not. And not even just about us as fans—which does personally hurt—he doesn’t even care about his teammates! What a clown. You’re supposed to be a warrior that goes to battle as part of a squad, and instead your actions are letting us all know you’re a prima donna who thinks he is bigger than the team. This demonstrates how little he cares about the Steelers as a franchise and to a larger extent, the city of Pittsburgh itself. Talk about a kick in the nuts.
What I don’t understand is why he had to be a such a dick about the whole thing. There were many higher roads he could have taken but instead he chose to be petty and immature towards not just the fans, but his teammates and coaches as well. Similar to his attempted rap career, this was not a good look.
In American culture reverence for performers or celebrities is common. Normal, everyday people put these figures on pedestals in their minds. Athletes, entertainers, actors. Comedians, dancers, hell, even famous scientists like Neil de Grasse or Bill Nye. Respect is earned through quality of work. Le’Veon Bell was a tremendously talented NFL running back who played for my team. I was happy to cheer for him. Now, (in Veronique Fleury’s voice) not so much.
Now, I see his true colors as being far from black and gold and much, much greener. His legacy is tainted, gnarled, grotesque. Instead of wanting to see him succeed, there are parts of me that want to see him fail. It’s sad, but he did this to himself. Even if he feels the way he seems to, he could have kept quiet about it. He could have respected how people cared about him as a player. There are many alternate routes he could have taken that would have redeemed his character in people’s eyes. He could have saved face.
If he cared to.
You would think that as a professional athlete in the NFL you might be able to recognize that Pittsburgh is a great place to play. You have arguably the best offensive line in the NFL (3 Pro Bowl Starters), hands down best WR (RIP AB84) tandem and a top-flight Hall of Fame quarterback. You have a passionate, invested fanbase; a large-scale community of Pittsburgh fans all over the world. You have a history of success and a slew of NFL legends who have played their careers here. To many professional athletes playing in an environment like that matters. Some, I dare say, would even call it a privilege.
Levy had a chance to be a real Pittsburgh sports legend, to be mentioned in the same breath as guys like Jerome Bettis, Franco Harris or James Conner ;). He really did have that opportunity; he just didn’t care about it. He could have played out this past season as the highest paid running back in football ($14.5 million), with a legitimate shot at winning the Super Bowl, but instead, he decided to sit out the entire season for hope at more long-term guaranteed money than was offered to him. I understand where he’s coming from, but in my humble opinion it’s a plan predicated on value that he longer holds and $14.5 M is a lot to leave on the table any way you slice it.
Let’s do a recap. Last summer, the Steelers offered Sitswell a contract that would have paid him $70M over 5 years. At the time, this would have made him the highest paid running back in the league at around $14M/season. Sitswell wanted more guaranteed money, and here is one thing I will 100% agree with him on: the NFL has a problem with giving out guaranteed money to players. It is not the same as other leagues where the full contract is guaranteed at the point of signing. Considering how much the league as a whole makes, this is garbage, and the players union needs to step in and change this. That being said, even the Steelers team union rep (Foster) thought he went about this hold-out the wrong way.
When you are setting the market, demanding more money isn’t always the best look. Sitswell declined to sign that deal because there wasn’t enough guaranteed money for him and it wasn’t a high enough amount per season. Only the first two years of the deal were fully guaranteed for around $33M. Chump change, some (nobody) might say. It has also been reported that Sitswell’s asking price was somewhere in the range of $17M a year.
When he turned down the long term offer by the Steelers, they basically had to franchise tag him again as they did the season prior. This one year deal for the 2018-19 season was to pay out $14,544,000. In other words, the highest single season salary of any RB in the NFL, ever.
It is unclear if this holdout was because of his agent or of his own accord. Going into the season, it was understood that Levy would most likely not be coming back to the team the following season because he clearly turned down a long term deal that would have kept him with the team, and this was not the first time he had decided to hold out. Thus, the overriding sentiment going into the season was that he would be used heavily.
Fearing the large workload, he decided to hold out for the entire year, forfeiting the entire $14.5M in salary. Leading up to Week 11, he was back from Miami and spotted in Pittsburgh, but no long term deal was reached. This is the highest profile hold-out in NFL history and I’m going to explain why it was a bad idea.
I could maybe understand what Sitswell did this season if he was on a team like the Raiders, Dolphins, or Jets—you know, one of the teams he’ll probably sign with —because then it would be easier to justify. This line of logic makes some semblance of sense for me, as you could make the argument “what reward is there in a regular season devoid of a SB chance?” and I would have to listen to you. Even the 2013 version of Bell agrees with me!
You can’t make this stuff up folks.
And yet by holding out on a contender he took that line out of the equation, which in essence means you can make the argument that he doesn’t care about winning.
I do not think that sitting out for an entire season on a good team means you will get paid more than if you injure yourself playing your heart out on a good team.
I think that sitting this past season greatly hinders any hope he had at long term money because how does any team out there KNOW they’ll be getting 100% game-shape Sitswell when he won’t even suit up for $14.5M on a good team?
When a professional athlete gets paid big bucks there are two things that can happen. One is they still bring that same fire they used to get the money in the first place. The other is to fall off, content with now being well off financially, or to be crushed by the pressure of the price now on their head. We’ve all seen each one happen multiple times.
Chris Boswell knows what I’m talking about.
Anyway, that is always the risk you take when you sign a player to any sort of long term contract worth real money; there doesn’t always need to be a carrot dangled but most people do respond to that sort of motivation. So do the teams looking at signing him really think he’s about to bring it once he ALREADY HAS the money?
Nothing about his career up until this point says that he will do that.
What team is going to say to him,
“Hey Lev, I know you screwed the Steelers over last year, are injury prone and a total clown off the field, but here is a dump truck full of money”
When I heard that Levy declined that $70M offer over the summer I was actually relieved because I can’t trust the guy to stay on the field.
Logic says that you can’t blame guys for the injuries they receive. On the flip side of the coin though, staying healthy is a skill, and Sitswell doesn’t have it. His right knee is jacked up (separately a torn MCL and pulled ACL). He missed the playoffs in both 2014 and 15 due to injury. He played great during the playoffs in 16 before getting injured in the AFC Champ game and missing it. He has missed the most important games of his career due to issues with his health, which in my mind, denotes him as a legitimate injury risk.
Clearly by skipping the entire 2018 season, he agrees with me.
Also, he happens to be a dickhead risk and when I say that I mean he has also been suspended twice for dumb shit. The first one was for smoking blunts with a guy named Blount while driving around and speeding in a car. The second suspension was for missing a scheduled drug test. Now, I could never blame a guy for smoking some ganj, but you have to be smarter about it if you are a professional athlete getting paid MILLIONS of dollars to run with a ball in your hand. Respect that you are a privileged individual!
Levy Sitswell does not respect that. In fact, he feels entitled to be where he is.
To summarize we have a selfish greedy guy who is both injury and poor-decision prone, wanting to be the highest paid running back in the league, not caring about winning, the team, or the city that he lives in.
As I said earlier, he could have went about this in a way that showed people he cared. Pointed towards some form of higher end character. Telling his teammates what was going on, the team, something. Showing up for the community. Instead, we got that fucking jet ski video.
That video really pissed me off when I saw it for multiple reasons, the main one being that he should have been with the team preparing for games, not cooling on jet skis in Miami. I’m sure it made his teammates feel great to know how much he cared about the squad or being there with them.
Also, the other guy in this video is Sitswell’s personal trainer, Salasious “Yes” Crumb. His main job is to tee-shirt gun hot wieners into Levy’s mouth from point blank range but he also likes feeding him cookies and other snacks like escargot and bull penis; anything Sitswell wants hand fed to him, Crum’s got his back (especially bullshit).
And, just to entertain the absurdity of this Crumb’s allegation, let’s get something straight
Levy Sitswell is NOT (!!!)
the best RB of all time
HE ISN’T EVEN CLOSE
Mr. Sitswell, when healthy, is one of the better running backs in the league; a top 10 guy when you consider his ability to both catch and run out of the backfield.
(I would put Kamara, Gurley, Barkley, Conner, Hunt, Elliott, and Gordon above him. Yeah James Conner is clearly better than Levy at this point. Fight me about it.)
He has never scored more than 11 touchdowns in a season, combined rushing and receiving.
(Conner had 13 this season in his first full year)
His high in rushing touchdowns for a season is 9, and as of now, he has yet to reach double digits in a single season.
(Conner got 12 this season)
For his career he has 35 rushing touchdowns, which ties him for 158thplace all time with all-time NFL greats like Randall Cunningham (a QB), Steve Grogan (??), Brad Baxter (I just liked that name…maybe it’s the Anchorman fan in me), Pug Manders, and Bam Morris, the latter two I would love to party with, because holy shit, Pug and Bam fam!
For real though, those are some quality names. Pug Manders and fucking Bam Morris.
When (if…?) he scores his next one, he will TIE Mike Vick (another QB) and other all-time legends like Reggie Bush, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Zach Crockett (a FB)
Levy’s high in rushing yardage for a full season is 1361. He had a 4.7 YPA that season and 2215 yards from scrimmage, good for 22ndall time for a single season. His career YPA is 4.3. Those are some pretty good numbers Levy!
It’s not called the Hall of Pretty Good though is it?
Sitswell’s career rushing yards stand at 5336, 4thall time in Steelers franchise history, which is where I would rank him in RBs that have played for us as well. Fast Willie has a special place in my heart. The Bus and Franco are Hall of Famers; there isn’t even a legit comparison at this point to those two. Conner, meanwhile, is already coming for his spot.
In other words, Sitswell isn’t even the best RB to have played for the Steelers, LET ALONE the entire league
“Best RB of all-time!” my ass, Crumb! Go feed Levy some cookies on the beach you dirty little cuck.
Guys in the Hall of Fame who Sitswell doesn’t even come close to are Emmitt Smith, LaDainian Tomlinson, Marshall Faulk, Eric Dickerson and Barry Sanders, to name a few.
Guys who are still playing who are ALL-TIME greats, and future Hall of Famers who he doesn’t come close to include Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson, and Frank Gore.
Players who aren’t quite Hall of Famers, but are arguably just as good or better than Levy has EVER been include Priest Holmes, Shaun Alexander, DeMarco Murray, Ricky Williams, and Jamal Lewis.
Sitswell is in the conversation of top 50 all time running backs.
However, he is nowhere close to the top 30 at this point in his career.
…Probably because he sits so well!
From HIS perspective, I understand that he wants to be paid more money. Greed is a human weakness and when your name is Sitswell you embrace that shit; why would you settle for an exorbitant amount of money when there is an even higher amount right around the corner and all you have to do is sit on your ass to get it?
At this point we all know who he is and what he stands for. If he really wanted to be a Steeler (like he came out and SAID after Week 5; guy is all talk) for life he would have kept everything internal and hammered out a long term deal with the front office. As a fan base, we would all be on his side and begging him to sign here. We weren’t even close and there’s a reason for that, other than the stellar play of James.
This is the big one for me: If he really cared about playing football, he would have played football this season. He said it himself.
He is not humble, he is entitled. He is not an unselfish team player, but a selfish, ignorant one. Oh and yeah, from his own words, we can see he clearly doesn’t love the sport of football as well.
Why would any team want to sign this guy? He will get signed somewhere, but not for the money he wanted. No way. This hold out has most likely cost him the very riches he held out for in the first place.
When you combine the injury history with the suspensions, the fact that he doesn’t care about winning or love football, and the way that our running backs have played in his absence, how could these teams reasonably expect him to show up once he has received his money? Even if he does show up, how can they know he wasn’t a product of the amazing offensive line that we have? They can’t. So they won’t be giving it to him. He has too many red flags now.
It was telling when the Eagles Jay Ajayi got hurt, and their team, with legitimate hopes to repeat as SB champs, openly stated they weren’t interested in Levy, while also making it clear they WERE in fact interested in multiple other guys.
It was a message: If you are going to treat a franchise like the Steelers like this, what makes us think you wouldn’t treat us this way? If we pay you what you want, what’s to stop you from sitting at home and collecting your check?
Do you have any drive to be successful on the field, and play the sport you are being paid to play?
Right now the answer to that question is a resounding NO.
Why would a team take that much risk in signing him to a long term, guaranteed deal? Beats me, but if one does, buyer beware. I could see him being successful for a couple of seasons. But will he ever win the Super Bowl? Will he ever be a part of a team that had to make sacrifices to win games? Or will he take his money into the sunset to invest it into his rapping career?
Seriously, which seems more plausible to you at this point?
And if you’re an NFL GM, how do you reconcile that?
- Was he actually a product of that offensive line?
At least partially, yes; they have been one of the most prolific offensive lines of the last 5 years. James Conner looked great back there. So did Jaylen Samuels. Thinking back, so did DeAngello Williams.
- How much does that come into play?
Probably more than you think but look he is a talented running back, nobody can take that away from him. But yes, he also had tremendous blocking throughout his entire career.
- Sounds like that will lower his value because most teams can’t replicate that. Can he stay healthy?
Honestly that’s TBD and the fact that he sat out an entire year for fear of getting hurt doesn’t look great on paper. Neither do the missed play-off games.
- Can he stay clean?
Should be able to but you never know with this guy.
- Risk is a risk. Does he care about winning, football, or getting better as a player?
- Will he fulfill his obligation for a long-term deal?
Probably (because more money)…but…if he didn’t would you be surprised?
In the end, I think he’ll get paid but not what he wanted. And finally, we can move on from the tale of Levy Sitswell, who is probably sitting somewhere right fucking now.