I think the interview that Ike Taylor gave to Jim Rome yesterday on the Jim Rome is Burning show flipped the optimism of several in Steeler Nation of the possibility of Taylor being re-signed by the Steelers when and if free agency opens and it really shouldn\’t have in my opinion. The interview was a very candid one and the first time we have really seen Ike take even more of a posturing stance in regards to his free agency status. That is not really surprising if you ask me.
Taylor\’s voice of uncertainty in is future is certainly understandable at this point and time as well. His statement that he his glad to be in the situation that he is currently in is also understandable as he has worked hard to get to this point in his career and is at the doorstep of one final big payday as a player. He has certainly worked with the Steelers in the past in restructuring his contracts to help accommodate other contracts and feels that it is his turn to receive his market value. You can\’t blame him for taking that stance.
As far as the comments Ike made about being under-appreciated and underrated, I took those remarks as pokes at some members of the media and the fan base as he stated. His low profile characterization of himself was also on the money as Taylor is not one that the members of the media or the fans flock to week to week. You only usually hear the name Ike Taylor after he might have had a bad play or two in a game. Before this offseason started it is hard to think back to the last time that Taylor was pulled aside on camera for a one-on-one interview. Perhaps this plays a little into his under-appreciated comments as well. Let\’s face it; Taylor does not give the media anything negative to write about because he is so low profile. He does his job and goes about his business very blue collar like. Media and fans that do not understand the current state of the roster and how consistent the play of Taylor has been over the years will certainly underrate him.
Taylor was not blessed with the best of hands and only has 11 regular season interceptions during his 8 year career. He takes quite a bit of flack for that, but does however play his role in the Dick LeBeau defense quite well in my opinion. He is not flashy and will occasionally take a stupid penalty or two, but is very consistent in his play over the years. Do you think LeBeau hopes he returns? I bet he surely does and I bet the Rooney family, Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin want him back as well.
Did you really expect Taylor to come right out on national television and say he would offer Pittsburgh a hometown discount of sorts and diminish his value? I didn\’t, as it is all part of the posturing process. Taylor seemed a little more coached, PR wise, yesterday in my opinion and I certainly do not fault him for that. Taylor is also really in unchartered waters right now and probably a little scared in addition. Deep down I firmly believe he wants to end his career with the Steelers as there is no reason to think otherwise based on his comments leading up to yesterday. He has mentioned recently that he and Papa Rooney (Dan Rooney) have a great relationship with one another and I think that will play a big role in this going forward and still think nothing less of him posturing more for market value.
Taylor stated to Rome that once a player gets 8 or 9 years into their career they understand the game is indeed a business. The Steelers not getting him re-signed a year out was part of their business and Taylor taking his stance of wanting market value is part of his business on the player side. Right now we do not even know what the salary cap or free agent rules will be like as everyone waits for a new labor deal to be reached. You can\’t blame the Steelers for moving slow on Taylor prior to the lockout nor can you blame Taylor for the stance he is taking. It’s a business.
If your optimism has shifted since the interview yesterday I think you should ask yourself this one question: What was Ike supposed to say during the interview other than what he said? Let\’s not write him off as leaving just yet as it is way too early with several variables in the equation unknown thanks to the lockout.
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