I’m not going to lie; I listened to Hines Ward’s press conference live while at work and teared up all through it. I also watched it again online when I got home and cried all over again. The words and sentiment Ward showed in his good bye to Steeler Nation moved a lot of people last Tuesday as he stated that he was retiring rather than entertain offers to play for another team. Personally, I don’t care if during the 3 weeks between his release from the Steelers and his retirement press conference his phone never rang with another team offering any amount of money for his services or if it rang off the hook, I still feel like his retirement was genuine even if it came after testing the free agency waters. I go back to when my father retired from the Navy to remember how difficult a decision it is to come to when it’s time to leave something that you love and have been a part of for so many years, even if it’s not exactly your idea at first. My father went back and forth on his decision to retire from the Navy for a couple of years, so Ward taking the 3 weeks doesn’t change his legacy in my mind whatsoever. Hines stated he wanted to be a Steeler for Life, and that’s just what he will be.
Speaking of wide receivers, reports started circling last week that Mike Wallace was after a big payday during his visit with San Francisco, who had showed some interest in the fastest wide receiver in the league. With Wallace being a restricted free agent, his deal with another team would result in them giving up a first round draft pick to the Steelers as compensation. So far there haven’t been any reports that an offer has been made and the Steelers are still stating they are in the process of trying to achieve a long-term deal with Wallace. At this point, I don’t know if Wallace is worth “Fitzgerald money”, but I definitely don’t think he’ll get it this year. No team needs Wallace enough to cough up a giant contract as well as a first round draft pick when they can just wait a year and offer just the contract when he’s unrestricted. It’s in the Steelers best interest to get a long-term deal with him now rather than see him walk away next season and get nothing in return. With reportedly about $6-$8 left under the cap right now, that hardly seems possible, but between Colbert and Khan I’d bet it can be done.
With the NFL Owner’s meetings going on in Florida this week, the Steelers are bringing 2 rules changes proposals to the table in hopes of clearing up some inconsistencies in the current system. The first proposal deals with the overtime situation, the fact that the regular season has the old “sudden death” or “first to score” overtime rules in place, where in the playoffs the rules are modified to allow the other team to get the ball back if the first team fails to score a touchdown on their first drive in overtime. Tragically ironic that that’s how the Steelers season ended in overtime against Denver, on the 80 yard pass from Tebow to Thomas. The Steelers are proposing the regular season change to adopt the modified overtime rules the playoffs currently have, which makes sense because when Timmy was dropping back to throw and Demaryius Thomas was stiff-arming Ike Taylor, I was busy explaining the overtime rules to everyone at the bar and looked up only when it was too late. Makes more sense to have the same rules regular season as the playoffs. The other rules change the Steelers are proposing are for horse collar tackles to the quarterback in the pocket, apparently that’s a legal hit right now. Seems like these changes make too much sense not to pass, but you never know what those crazy billionaires are going to do when faced with reason.
And with all that, the Steelers lost a free agent this week with Willie Gay signing with Pittsburgh West (aka the Arizona Cardinals). In my opinion, we lost a very good corner in Gay, but hopefully what we saw out of Keenan Lewis last season means that our secondary won’t suffer too much in the loss. You won’t find any Gay bashing in my posts, I think he had a phenomenal year last season so it makes sense that Arizona would jump on him as soon as they could.
There’s no telling what this week will bring in NFL news but I’m inclined to think that it won’t top last week. We’re still about a month away from even the draft and the NFL has certainly stayed in the forefront of sports news since the Super Bowl. This fan couldn’t be happier.
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