Just because Mike Wallace has the potential to become one of the elite receivers in the NFL (with a little work of course) doesn’t mean the Steelers throw out their formula with how they deal with unsigned free agents. As of today (just two days short of camp), the Steelers terminated negotiations between themselves and Mike Wallace. Camp is just about to begin, and if you aren’t signed to a contract with the Steelers, then those negotiations are over until you decide to sign to the Steelers’ terms and show up on the football field.
Mike Tomlin, in Mike Tomlin fashion, addressed Wallace today in his talks with the media.
‘Obviously Mike Wallace was not here today. I don’t know when he’s going to be here. Obviously we have a desire for him to be here. We want him to be a part of this thing both short term and long term. We’ve been in negotiations with him. He’s not here today. It’s unfortunate for him.’
There’s a key phrase in there. ‘It’s unfortunate for him.’ Truer words have never been spoken by a head coach. It really is unfortunate for Mike Wallace that he can’t get over himself and just sign a well earned tender that gives him the opportunity to truly prove his worth – not just to the Steelers, but to the entirety of the NFL. Now that’s not why Tomlin said it was unfortunate. Tomlin knows how special it is to be a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He knows and understands the strength of this organization.
‘One thing that experience has taught me is that this is bigger than all of us. It’s bigger than Mike, it’s bigger than me, so I mean that when I say it’s unfortunate for him that he’s not here.’
There is true maturity in that statement. Wisdom of a real leader. One who knows what is truly at stake when you play games with a legacy organization such as the Steelers. That’s what’s so unfortunate for Mike Wallace. There’s a strong chance that he’s just written his own pink slip and may not return to this team ever again.
I understand that football is a business. That players play to get paid. That a lot of times winning is only secondary. But hell, it sure is fun when you do win and win championships while getting paid an absurd amount of money. And so while Wallace may not have received the ‘greatest’ deal with the Steelers in the long term sense, he would have nailed down some big bucks and set himself up for playoff run after playoff run, Super Bowl games, and numerous Pro Bowls. Sure sounds a heck of a lot more fun than signing for a few million more and playing for some 5-11 team.
This is not the end of our story with Mr. Wallace. But for the chapter with the Steelers to not come to an end, he’s going to have to make concessions or lose out in 2012…. and possibly forever. He’s either going to have to sign that tender and take his chances next season, or just go ahead and sign a good long term deal with the Steelers. Otherwise, he may not see a football field on a Sunday this season.
I hope he comes to his senses very soon before it’s too late. What’s too late? For me, it’s the middle of camp. If he tries and strikes a deal with the Steelers at the end of camp or by the first few weeks, he is severely handicapped in learning an entirely new system with Todd Haley’s new offense. It turns him back into the one trick pony he’s tried hard to break out of the last two seasons. If you don’t know the offense, then just run deep – and that’s what the Steelers will have him do for a long time. A one trick pony doesn’t make over $10 million a year. And then it’s Game Over, Wallace.
I’m glad that Tomlin isn’t hooked on Wallace’s absence. I hope the players aren’t either. I wonder if Big Ben will wear a #17 jersey on Friday……