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Mike Wallace: WR Should Take Hines Ward's Advice and Stay with Steelers

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 08:  Quinton Carter #28 of the Denver Broncos jumps over Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 8, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Jessica MarieCorrespondent IIMarch 21, 2012

When a Steelers legend takes time out of his retirement press conference to tell you to stick with the team, it's probably a good indication that you should listen.

Such was the case when Hines Ward issued a piece of advice to Mike Wallace, who is a restricted free agent and could leave if he signs an offer sheet with another team and Pittsburgh declines to match it.

During a news conference announcing his retirement, Ward said, "I told Mike, you may get a chance to go other places, but there's not another place like Pittsburgh." 

Ward, however, seems to be the exception to the rule when it comes to the Steelers and wide receivers. The Steelers have only re-signed one receiver to a long-term contract in the free-agency era, and it's Ward.

But since Wallace's career has followed a similar trajectory, it's not out of the question that he could become the second exception.

Wallace, like Ward, was selected in the third round of the NFL draft from an SEC school, and his production has been crucial for Pittsburgh over the last two seasons, particularly as the team has transitioned to a pass-heavy offense.

In his Pro Bowl season in 2011, Wallace had 72 receptions, 1,193 yards, eight touchdowns and just one fumble.

Ward's numbers in 2002, his best season, resemble Wallace's: He had 112 receptions, 1,329 yards, 12 touchdowns and one fumble.

It's obvious that Ward regrets nothing about his time in Pittsburgh and values everything the franchise did for him. He elaborated to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Scott Brown and urged his fellow wideout to consider every piece of the Pittsburgh package, not just the money:

I'm always going to be his biggest fan, but it is a very special place to play here and I have been blessed to have played all 14 years here, so I just told Mike to keep it in that perspective.

All too often, the NFL—and the world of professional sports in general—is too focused on the finances and not enough on the player-team relationship, and that goes both ways.

Someone like Peyton Manning got cut from the franchise he built up from the ground because his general manager thought paying him so much money was becoming too risky.

It's just nice to hear a player pull an anti-Rod Tidwell and say it doesn't have to be about all about the money; it can be about your love for a team, a franchise and a fanbase.

The Steelers are a team that puts the proper pieces in place to win, and Wallace, after being a part of that for the last three years, should have no desire to walk away.

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