By Cian Fahey
Many comments on a few of my articles for this site, and on Twitter, so far have questioned why I constantly call Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace “unreliable” when I refer to him for the upcoming season. The argument which is generally sent my way is that Wallace cannot holdout and will be forced to play for his tender.
That is not true.
Wallace will be forced to suit up and be on the field under his current tender because holding out is counterproductive under the rules of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Wallace will be forced to be on the field if he doesn\’t want to add another year to his wait for unrestricted free agency, but he won\’t be forced to fight for the football in the air, protect the ball when being tackled or expose his body in any possible way.
Much like DeSean Jackson did last year, Wallace could easily come with a me-first attitude this year and not play anywhere near to his potential.
But Wallace has to make an effort so he can get a big deal on the open market next year.
No. No he doesn\’t.
Wallace has three seasons of football which prove he is one of the best burners in the league as well as being one of the most dangerous young weapons in the league. At 25 years of age, Wallace will be entering the prime of his career ahead of this year and into the future. Other front offices will understand if he decides to protect his health opposed to playing for minimal money.
They won\’t like it, but they will understand that he gave great effort for three previous seasons.
Considering that Wallace believes he should be paid the same kind of money as Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson, he obviously feels that he has already proven his quality on the field. Why would he feel like he needs to prove himself and earn a new deal in a contract year when he already thinks he deserves a $100 million contract?
Fans often forget that those who actually wear the jersey of their teams on Sundays aren\’t always in love with the franchise, or sometimes even the sport, the way we are. Most professional athletes understand that football is a business and subsequently view it that way.
Very few players carry the attitude of a Hines Ward or Aaron Smith and the truth is that they shouldn\’t because nobody would care about Wallace if his name was Limas Sweed. There is no such thing as loyalty in professional sports. Fans only love the players who carry value to their team and players only love the franchises who love/value them.
Why should we presume that Wallace will put the Steelers\’ fortunes before anything else? The Steelers\’ fans are fortunate that their franchise puts a focus on character when acquiring players but that doesn\’t mean every player is going to be throwing out hometown discounts or giving their all in every game if they feel that they are being underpaid.
Fans shouldn\’t need to be reminded of the names of Plaxico Burress or Santonio Holmes who were me-first players who eventually moved on.
It may sound like I\’m slating Wallace or judging him if he does indeed feel this way, and I can\’t guarantee that he does but you can\’t guarantee that he doesn\’t, but in fact I have no problem with Wallace taking care of himself first. On any given play his career can end and he wouldn\’t have earned anywhere near enough to set himself up for the rest of his life.
In fact, if I was in his position, I would probably do exactly what Jackson did last year and put my health first. As fans, we see that as selfish, but Wallace has a family to look after. I don\’t know if he has kids or a wife but he likely plans to. Why shouldn\’t he want to set up his family with the best possible conditions? Why shouldn\’t he treat this “game” as a business considering it is his actual profession.
How many of you would be 100 percent committed to your work if you felt like you were being severely underpaid?
I have no clue what Wallace will do this season, but he has already reportedly signaled his intentions to hold out as long as he has to, so I will continue to refer to him as an unreliable receiver for this season as the Steelers should prepare for the worst in every situation.
You can follow Cian on Twitter at @Cianaf