In a business where owners earn millions of dollars in profits on players putting their health in danger, it is very easy to side with the player whenever a contract dispute arises.
Plus in the NFL, players’ careers are shorter and contracts are not guaranteed like in other professional sports.
But in the Pittsburgh Steelers' latest contract disagreement with wide receiver Mike Wallace, things are a little more complicated than a big, bad owner not anteing up to pay a star player. Things are also growing more complex by the hour.
Steelers GM Kevin Colbert wanted to sign Wallace to a long-term deal. The first step to do that was getting Wallace to sign the one-year tender the club offered at $2.7 million. Yes, that would make Wallace vastly underpaid this season, but the Steelers had every intention to do right by Wallace.
At least they did at one point.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and third-year wide receiver Antonio Brown came to terms on a contract extension for five seasons worth 42.5 million dollars. With so much money now going to Brown, it is highly unlikely Wallace will receive his contract extension this year, according to RotoWorld.
Reports Friday afternoon said it was Wallace’s decision to be a holdout and not his agent’s, according to ESPN. Because of Wallace’s decision to play hard ball, it left the Steelers very little choice but to join their wideout in the game of brinkmanship. And the Steelers proved once again they play this game very well.
Pittsburgh’s coaching staff, especially under Mike Tomlin, has been known for keeping their focus towards the players on the field rather than the players away from it. In other words, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
“One thing that experience has taught me is that this is bigger than all of us,” said Tomlin, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It’s bigger than Wallace and it’s bigger than me. So I mean that when I say that it’s unfortunate for him that he’s not here. This group that is the Pittsburgh Steelers will continue to push on, and we will focus our energy on readying the people that are here. When he shows up, he will show up.”
“He’s not here today. That’s unfortunate for him,” said Tomlin during the first day of training camp.
Now, it would be foolish to say it is not unfortunate for the Steelers that their No. 1 wide receiver is not in camp, but Tomlin’s words couldn’t have been more true. The Steelers were obviously angered by Wallace’s decision to hold out. The franchise not only said they were ready to move forward without him, but then gave the money that was for him to another wide receiver.
Wallace is now left with the decision to sign the tender for $2.7 million or continue to hold out and threaten to miss the season. At that point, Pittsburgh could trade him or if he does show up to play, franchise tag him next offseason.
Pittsburgh doesn’t fool around; unfortunately Mike Wallace learned that the hard way.