By Christina Rivers
Credentials – that which entitles one to confidence, credit or authority; Evidence or testimonials concerning one\’s right to credit, confidence or authority (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
Creds – Credentials earned in life by experience. Credit given. (UrbanDictionary.com)
We\’ve all been following the ongoing saga of receiver Mike Wallace\’s professional football career. Some have been as hooked to the story as they are to Jersey Shore. With all the rumors and statements made by Wallace and others, the only question left is whether or not Wallace\’s actions and words have cost him his “creds”.
Wallace possesses confidence. There is no real dispute there. In 2011 he appeared much more comfortable running routes and exhibited more of his true talent on the field.
Toward the end of the season, Wallace was seeing more teams using double-coverage on him. Opponents, knowing he has exceptional speed, created defensive packages meant to limit his receptions, especially ones for long yardage. As a result, Wallace\’s stats began to drop a bit and Antonio Brown\’s stats began to rise.
Let\’s not get too carried away, though. In September, Wallace was outperforming Brown with 21 receptions to ten; 377 yards to 156. In December, Wallace had 16 receptions for 243 yards and two touchdowns. Brown made 15 receptions for 311 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers aren\’t close enough to say that Brown “outplayed” Wallace by any means. Wallace was still putting up healthy numbers.
Give Wallace credit where credit is due. He has made some incredible catches. There were even a few that seemed to be aided by divine intervention. So far, Wallace has met two of the three \’qualities\’ that make up credentials. The last one is authority; and this may be where Wallace falters a bit.
When someone is an “authority”, we generally deduce that that person is an expert in their field. In Wallace\’s case, it would include the football field; literally and figuratively. Professional football is as much about business as it is about sport. Players want to be fairly compensated for their play, efforts and the risks inherent to the game. Anyone in business expects a fair price for their goods and services.
Wallace\’s authority is questioned by some because he is rumored to have asked for a contract that paid more than Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald\’s 8-year, $120 million deal. Others question the fact that Wallace has stated he will not sign the one-year tender the Steelers have offered him at nearly $2.75 million. Cian Fahey, another writer here at Steelers Depot, says Wallace will be “unreliable” in 2012 due to the fact that he\’ll most likely be forced to suit up for the Steelers…but will his heart be in it?
Is Wallace in the top-10 of all receivers in the National Football League today? Many \’burgh faithful may adamantly declare, “yes”, but that may not be the case. There is a lot of room for interpretation here. Recently Hines Ward was on NFL Total Access and listed his top-10; he put Wallace at 10th place.
I am an avid Wallace fan. I also collect football cards ravenously. I currently have a Mike Wallace high-value rookie card (Upper Deck – Sweet Swatches #SSW-63) that has a piece of his Ole Miss jersey inserted into it that is certified by Richard P. McWilliam of the Upper Deck company. As part of my charitable works, I offered for people to bid on the card in order to give the proceeds to Big Brothers, Big Sisters. The effort was to help kids. I didn\’t receive a single offer. Not one bid.
This experience raised questions for me about how football fans see Wallace today. Has his stock dropped because of his post-season attitude and hold-out that has kept him out of OTAs and now mandatory mini-camp? Are fans jumping off the Wallace party bus?
Ike Taylor was on Trib Live radio in May with host John Harris. During the Ike Taylor Show, Taylor insisted that Wallace wants to be with the team and is frustrated, but “Mike feels like he outperformed his last contract. But he\’s dealing with a monster, and that\’s the Pittsburgh Steelers … they are not going to let you dictate to them on how you feel.” Taylor admitted that he told Wallace, “Mike, you know, we do need you and we would love to have you at least in the building. You don\’t have to do nothing because it\’s voluntary, but just your presence being around, you know, it could help or might speed up the process.” According to Taylor, Wallace is frustrated by seeing a lot of guys receiving big contracts. Taylor told Wallace, “Football don\’t need you; you need football.” (You can see the interview and read Dave Bryan\’s article about the show.)
Head coach Mike Tomlin said the Wallace deal is business and that he has talked to Wallace. “We had good communications. This process is going to run its course… It\’ll be a little short term misery, but it won\’t be significant in the grand scheme of things hopefully.” Wallace did pick up his playbook and has been working out on his own. This is a testimonial that Wallace needed. Even Ben Roethlisberger has said that Wallace is a great player and that “(Wallace) needs to get his fair market value.”
For Wallace to take over that authority part of his “creds”, he is going to have to show (like Ike Taylor did in the past) that he understands that he needs the game as much or more than the cash. I\’d love to see Wallace walk into training camp with a new outlook and complete credentials because he is faithful to his teammates, his team and puts his self-respect first over whatever he personally defines himself in dollars and cents.
To answer the question – no, Mike Wallace hasn\’t lost his “creds”, but he\’s hurting them every day he waits to make a decision.