On Monday, the legendary Joe Greene retired from the Pittsburgh Steelers organization and Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette talked to him by phone after the announcement had been made. During his talk with Greene, the Hall of Famer told Bouchette how he thought money, and more specifically, the one-upmanship attitude that players have today, in his opinion, is ruining the Steelers.
“The scary thing is that players have a one-upsmanship about money; they sign a contract and they like it until someone signs a bigger one and now they don’t like it,” Greene told Bouchette. “I don’t like that. I don’t begrudge anyone money but it disrupts the football team. The Steelers over the years have been able to keep everyone happy under the structure.”
Greene also added to that, per the Bouchette report.
“There’s a different attitude with the players, maybe players we brought in, I don’t know. I don’t think it’s good.”
On Wednesday, Steelers safety Ryan Clark, who has been all over ESPN this week in an attempt to hone is broadcast shills in preparation for life after football, was a guest on First Take. During the show, the one-upmanship comments made by Greene to Bouchette were discussed and Clark was asked to weigh in with his thoughts on them.
“If you look at the structure of the NFL today, its about one upmanship,” said Clark. You look at the quarterbacks getting their deals. Joe Flacco got his deal and we based it off of he felt like he was the best quarterback now because of what he did. So he based it off of what Drew Brees got and then you look at Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo to follow. So that\’s what the contracts these days are about.
“Also, these kids coming in, even we you see them sign on signing day, what do they say? \’I\’m going to go to LSU, I\’m going to go to Alabama for three years and then I\’m going to leave and go to the NFL.\’ So the culture we have now is about money. They want to make money, and I will be honest, the Steelers were a team that kept that away from the organization as long as possible.
“If you look at some of the deals that Joey Porter took when he was playing with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Alan Faneca. Even the deals that Troy Polamalu has taken, never hitting the market, extending his contracts with years left, and we don\’t have those type of people in the organization anymore, because I don\’t think those type of people come into the draft. They don\’t see it as that. Guys are seeing it as, hey, I want to play and make as much money as I possibly can and I would tend to think that Mr. Greene is talking more about the Mike Wallace situation.”
“You know, you\’ve had Hines Ward, who was probably never paid according to his play on the field. He was paid well, but now we have guys who say, \’You know what? I\’m just not comfortable living in this guy\’s neighborhood, I want his house, or I want my house to be bigger,\’ and that\’s what this league has turned in to.”
During his interview with Bouchette, Greene said that in all of his years of being in Pittsburgh, he never encountered a player having his play affected by a contract dispute that wasn\’t resolved by the start of the season. Greene noted to Bouchette that that is a bad thing to happen. Bouchette asked Greene if he was referring to Mike Wallace, but the Steeler legend refused to name a specific player.
Clark, on the other hand, obviously thinks that Greene was referring to Wallace, and why wouldn\’t he? As far as the other comments made by Clark, I think he is right when he said that the Steelers were able to hold off the one-upmanship attitude as long as possible, as over the years we have witnessed more and more players chasing the green of cash more than the opportunity to play on the green of Heinz Field.
Much like Wallace last season, Plaxico Burress, who just so happens to back in Pittsburgh now, failed to show up for the mandatory and volunteer mini camps prior to his contract year in 2004. Burress did, however, show up on time for training camp, but a new deal was never reached and the Steelers former No. 1 draft pick ended up having a horrible 2004 season that included him missing five games in total and only catching 35 passes for 698 yards. The poor season did not hurt the wallet of Burress, however, as he ended up signing a six-year, $25 million contract with the New York Giants in March of 2005.
Look, I certainly see where Greene is coming from, but everything was headed in this direction ever since the owners granted the players free agency in exchange for a salary cap in 1993. Also, the hometown discount is pretty much non existent now as well.
As much as I usually hate what Stephen A. Smith has to say, he was right on the money when he said that teams no longer have loyalty to players. As he sort of put it, they can cut players on a moments notice if they want to. Players will always want more than another player that they think they have out-produced. It\’s the nature of the game and it\’s the nature of our society.
Skip Bayless said during his comments on the topic that the first time that he read the comments made by Greene that he considered it to be “grumpy old man” talk. Is he right? Where do you weigh in on this topic?
In case you want to watch the whole segent, I have included the video of it below.