Listen, I don't try to live my life as a contrarian. That's not true -- I kind of do. I spend a lot of time in public houses and taverns, and I have a two-hour commute that allows me to hear a lot of the sports world's most popular opinions. Sometimes, I think it's best to take a look at the other side.
In this space, I articulate positions that are the opposite of what most people think -- unpopular opinions, if you will -- and explain why, well, my unpopular opinions are right and everyone else is wrong. Here is my take on what should happen with one of the best running backs in the NFL today, Le'Veon Bell.
What else could've been on the minds of Packer Backers as the sideline cart chauffeured an injured Aaron Rodgers to the locker room midway through the second quarter? Maybe a few expletives were mixed in for good measure. But the season looked like it was over. Lambeau Field sat in stunned silence. I hadn't seen an audience so shook since the final scenes of "Avengers: Infinity War." In the blink of an eye, a seemingly normal sack, it all appeared to be over.
But by miracle (and Kyle Fuller's stone hands), Rodgers returned from the dead and rallied his Packers to another improbable victory. Improbable even by Rodgers' standards. Although the wrestling fan in me knows damn well that when the so-called hero is carted away, he's going to return from the locker room to win. Rodgers might as well have been wearing a green-and-gold John Cena shirt to eventually flip into the crowd on his way back to the sideline.
It's one of those things where you breathe a sigh of relief if you're a Packers fan. It's like showing up for a test, only to find out the professor has canceled class. Are you going to go to happy hour, or will you study up for the test? Fine, first happy hour, and then study. But you have to take advantage of your good fortune. NFL seasons are a privilege. Playoffs aren't promised to anybody. Your season had a near-death experience. Now what are you going to do with it? OK, I don't want to be that dramatic. But you need to make some changes in your life. You've taken the careers of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers for granted. You've played it too safe. Now it's time to take some chances.
Do whatever it takes. Send a first-round pick. Send four. Who gives a (expletive)? You own the Saints' first-round pick, in addition to your own, in next year's draft anyway. The Packers are on the verge of the Super Bowl. One that looked like it was going to be ripped from you for a few moments there on Sunday night. Embrace this. The Football Gods gave you a second chance. Make the most of it.
Now, I know Bell has to sign his franchise tender before he can be traded, and I'm not going to get into the salary-cap complications or anything like that. Football people know how to make that stuff work. Besides, I'm the ideas guy. I'm like Steve Jobs walking into a room of brilliant people and telling them I want all of the music in the world in a device the size of a potato chip. [Snaps fingers] Make it happen! This really makes sense for both teams.
Why the deal works for the Steelers
Bell is killing the locker room. The offensive linemen feel betrayed. Maurkice Pouncey was out there bragging that Bell was going to report last week, and Bell left him high and dry. It's like my friend who swore he knows Bill Burr, but when he was pressed to show us his digits on his phone, he couldn't produce it. It's embarrassing. I mean, you're going to have to deal with Ben Roethlisberger openly talking about his injuries like your buddy who can't wait to tell people how hung over he is. Why do you also need the headache of Bell looming?
Besides, James Conner is really good. He took every snap at running back vs. the Browns in Week 1 and put up 192 total yards and a pair of touchdowns. And did you see the way his teammates celebrated him? Oh, lord -- it was like when one of your friends gets out of a bad relationship and then puts a post on IG with his new bae. And the rest of the squad starts posting messages like, "You go!" or, "Live your best life!" or, "SO happy you found a running back who wants to be with YOU!" Trade Bell, and all of the messages will be all, "I never liked him anyway."
So, move on Steelers. What do you think you're going to get if Bell does come back? A short-timer who is more interested in his next job than the one he's currently holding. And really, you're not a sentimental bunch in Pittsburgh, anyway. You let Rod Woodson play for the 49ers, Ravens and Raiders. How in the name of L.C. Greenwood did you let that happen? Get your draft picks.
Why the deal works for the Packers
The team paid Rodgers handsomely during the offseason. Give him something better than money. The Packers have had some really nice players (and even my colleague, James Jones) during Rodgers' run, but nothing like Bell. He fits that offense perfectly. Hell, he fits any offense perfectly. I'm already getting cold sweats thinking about Rodgers rolling out, extending plays and finding Bell wide open. It's pretty scary. From a football perspective, there is clearly no downside to this.
But it's the cost. It's risky to throw some draft picks around for a player who could be a one-year rental. Not that risky, though, since you have the Saints' 2019 first-round selection. Teams like to hoard their draft picks like they're gift cards. I mean, you know how you get a gift card and think, "Wow, this is great." And then you hold on to it because you want to make sure the purchase you are making is gift-card worthy. Then you end up keeping it in your drawer for years before eventually throwing it away. In fact, a recent study said that 87 percent of gift cards retain more than a third of their value when they are discarded. And while I'm making that up, it's true that way less than half of the players selected in the first round will be Pro Bowlers. In fact, of the 159 players selected in the first round from 2013 to '17, 39 have made the Pro Bowl. And one of them was Amari Cooper. You really wouldn't waste a late-first-round pick on a player like Bell? Stop being so precious.
And let's be real here. Don't you think it's a little embarrassing -- or at least troubling -- that you've had either Favre or Rodgers at QB since 1992 and you've won just two titles? Eli Manning has two titles. Your life is marginally better than the Bengals' over the last two decades, with one Green Bay title in that span. Is this any way to live?
This is why the Packers need to make a bold move now. Rodgers signed a four-year extension recently, and it's time to go for broke. If seeing what things are like with Brett Hundley and DeShone Kizer instead of Rodgers hasn't scared you into making this deal, I don't know what will. It seems like you're satisfied with finishing 11-5 every year and maybe making a brief postseason run. Why would you settle for that? I mean, you did settle for living in Wisconsin despite Chicago being so close. But you shouldn't settle here. You're freakin' Titletown, not Complacency City. Do something.
Or do nothing, I don't really care.