“One thing that experience has taught me is that this is bigger than all of us. It’s bigger than Wallace and it’s bigger than me.” – Mike Tomlin on Mike Wallace’s hold out
While Mike Tomlin’s comments on Mike Wallace’s holdout were clear and fairly strong, they did not go much beyond standard Pittsburgh Steelers head coach boiler plate for contract disputes.
- Actions, of course speak louder than words.
It’s easy for a coach to talk about focusing on “The guys who want to be here” but it’s another for an entire franchise to put its foot down. And make no mistake about it, the Pittsburgh Steelers put their foot down by giving Antonio Brown a five year contract extension that will keep him with the team through 2017.
Since Mike Wallace became a restricted free agent this off season, Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, and Art Rooney II have said all the right things about resigning him.
This is true despite credible reports that some of the Steelers Brain Trust had reservations about Wallace. The drop off in Wallace’s production during the second half of 2011 was troubling just as the drop off in the 2010 playoffs raised yellow flags.
But both Ed Bouchette and Len Pasqurelli wrote about people in the Steelers organization having worries about the role that attitude played in his drop off.
- Then came the rumors that Wallace expects to be paid Larry Fitzgerald like money.
The Steelers commenced training camp and Wallace no showed. Add in the fact that Wallace’s is holding out against the advice of his agent Bus Cook, a man who has a history of orchestrating hold outs.
- Connect the dots and the pattern you get is not a pleasant one for Steelers Nation.
Make no mistake, the Steelers negotiated in good faith. While character and locker room chemistry are important to the Steelers, senior management knows Wallace is one of the rare NFL players who truly is a threat to go all the way anytime he gets the ball in his hands.
That alone makes him valuable. And even when Wallace is dropping passes or letting defensive backs make uncontested plays on under thrown balls, he’s still stretching the field for Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery and Health Miller.
The Steelers stood ready to give Wallace real money in a long-term deal. And they made good on that intention. Except Antonio Brown’s name was on that contract, not Mike Wallace’s.
There are franchises in pro sports that allow themselves to be defined by a single player or personality. The Pittsburgh Steelers are not one of them.
The Steelers are a far weaker team without Mike Wallace in the line up. But the statement the Steelers made in signing Antonio Brown is that the organization will not be dictated to by one player, no matter how valuable.