As we covered yesterday, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor talked publicly for the first time about his misgivings about the organization that he’s been with his entire career asking him to take a pay cut early this offseason.
The 12th-year veteran was scheduled to earn a base salary of $7 million in 2014, the final year of his contract, and he took a $4.25 million pay cut, which was higher than most had predicted that he would be asked to accept.
Earlier, he talked about the decision to accept the pay cut, saying that he is still making a lot of money, and pointing out that he has witnessed some of his own teammates decline the pay cut and go on to regret it.
Taylor said yesterday that it still hurts that he was the one asked to give up a large portion of his salary to this day. “‘Why me?’ Like, I didn’t show my loyalty?”, he said.
You want to talk about a guy who’s going to come in in-shape, not waiting to build up into shape when he gets to camp. Or you want to talk about a guy who’s unselfish and puts his team before his family and friends, you want to talk about a guy who has loyalty, yeah, it’s me. When you come to me and ask me for a pay cut, I’m like ‘Damn, out of all these people, you want to ask Ike?’.
Yet with all that said, Taylor likely understands better than anybody that he was naturally the most likely candidate to be approached about taking the pay cut to help the team—some reasons fair, some, perhaps, not.
As Taylor himself said, he is a guy who is all about loyalty. He understands that the relationships that he has built over the years is more important than a few million at the end of a playing career, as is staying in the same system rather than trying to adapt in your mid-30s.
Possessing that loyalty and understanding naturally makes one more inclined to accept sacrifices on behalf of the team. Surely James Harrison regrets not accepting that pay cut last offseason, and Taylor saw that.
Taylor also saw, and even acknowledged, that his play last year was far below his own standards, and he offers no compelling reason to justify a sudden turnaround a year later. He knows that his position has a shorter lifespan than many others, including safety, which is (partly) why Troy Polamalu received an extension.
It’s hard to argue that Taylor was not the ideal candidate to accept the pay cut this season. It provided the team the greatest relief; it came after a significant down season; and it was offered to perhaps the most loyal person on the team.
But nobody will ever enjoy taking money out of their own pocket, regardless of how justified it is or how beneficial it might be to that individual in other ways—in this case giving the organization more money to build a stronger roster around him.
Taylor signed a four-year, $28 million contract, and he now will be missing out on $4.25 million of what the two parties mutually agreed to. That will hurt for anybody. But he is a veteran and he understands how this works.
The organization also knows that he has always been one to speak candidly, and they’ve never tried to reel him in on that front. He’s entitled to hold and voice his thoughts on being the one to be asked to make the sacrifice for the team. But he also does understand why he was the one chosen to bear that responsibility.