In case you haven’t heard, Mike Wallace has arrived in Pittsburgh to sign his tender. Wallace will earn 2.7 million clams for his services this year. I was fairly positive (I get like that) that Speedy Mike would come back to town. But in my mind I thought he would present himself in a different manner. Here’s how I’d hoped the Mike Wallace extravaganza would have played out:
“Ladies and gentlemen of the press, my Steelers teammates, and Steelers Nation, thank you so much for coming out on this beautiful Western Pennsylvania day. I’m sure you had other stories to cover, practices to attend, or lives to lead. It is humbling that you give me this opportunity to address you all. As you may know, after last season, I was an restricted free agent. And although I didn’t end the 2011/2012 season as competitively as I started it, I still thought I was worth a king’s ransom in the murky waters that are restricted free agency.
My agent and I made every attempt to walk away from this team, this city, and this fan base. We did it for money. I am young, highly talented, not terribly aware of my place in the world, and I felt that another NFL team would be willing to give me more money than the Pittsburgh Steelers. There was a highlight film from last season that we used to showcase my talents to prospective teams that I hoped would pay me more money than the Pittsburgh Steelers. I had the tape edited down to show just the first nine games. This was in an effort to show my best performances and to down play any mention of how my game faded toward the end of the year.
I have seen my teammates restructure their own contracts to free up money to sign other players to long term deals. If no other NFL team was willing to pay me the money I thought I was due, the ‘Larry Fitzgerald’ money that I spoke of, I was hoping my brothers on the Steelers would sacrifice their own salaries so that I could pad my wallet. My other option, here in Pittsburgh, would be for this historically cautious franchise to make me a super sweet deal. A deal that bound their hands to sign other free agents and even this year’s class of draft picks. As I said before, I’m young and I and not terribly aware of my place in the world.
Alas, none of those afore mentioned scenarios took place. I lost any percieved leverage that I thought I had. So I did what other people, immature people with feelings of entitlement do; I pouted. I didn’t participate in my team’s OTAs even though I knew we had a new offensive coordinator. I stayed away from minicamp even though I recognized my team’s void in leadership. I then decided not to attend training camp even though my team would be working and sweating and bonding without me. Keep in mind though, I technically did nothing wrong throughout this entire process. As I mentioned earlier, the waters of restricted free agency are murky at best.
But here I am before you now. You can’t say that I arrived at the last minute but I did arrive a day later than I was expected to. This was to ensure that I wouldn’t have to practice with my teammates at all this week because it’s still very warm here in Western Pennsylvania. I don’t want to over exert myself in this heat or risk an injury that would affect my chances of leaving this city, this team, and this fan base as soon as this season is over. For my agent and me, it’s all about the money. I should at least be paying some lip service to winning or to the concepts of team and brotherhood; but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I just want money.
I’ll be more than honored to answer any and all of your questions now.”
But it play out anything like that, did it? Wallace did not say any of those things.
Have a great season, Mike. I mean that too. Get your stats, get your story told, put some highlights on tape (try for an entire year this time), hell, get yourself a Steelers Super Bowl ring that has to be delivered to you in a different locker room. I don’t care. Just go and blow your smoke somewhere else.
Mike Wallace is all about Mike Wallace and there’s nothing murky about that.