Pittsburgh Steelers Christmas Carol Is Needed for Mike Wallace
Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is one of the best novels in American history. It has been made into movies numerous times, and the story holds true to this very day.
Thinking about the current situation with Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Wallace, I believe a history lesson in this case may be necessary.
For those of you living under a rock, Mike Wallace is the restricted free agent of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He currently has an offer on the table of $2.7 million dollars, which is the tender amount that the Steelers used to restrict his free agent movement.
No team was willing to pay Wallace what he believed he was worth, in addition to giving up the first-round compensation which would have been required had the Steelers not matched the offer.
Some say that Wallace was looking for Larry Fitzgerald money, while others believe that the Steelers have already offered Wallace a contract that they gave to receiver Antonio Brown when Wallace would not sign it.
Either way, as we currently sit, the Steelers are without their field-stretching receiver, and the receiver is staying away from Steelers camp until he gets what he believes he is owed.
To the tune of A Christmas Carol, here is A Steelers Carol. Imagine it narrated by Hines Ward.
Ghost of Art Rooney Sr.
As Mike Wallace returns home from the Tom Shaw Performance Complex, he walks into the house (owned by Ike Taylor) to see the smoke-filled living room, smelling like old cigar smoke.
In the corner chair, he sees a silhouette of an older man, not knowing what to think.
As he approaches this older man, the smoke clears and there sits the late, great, Art Rooney Sr., stogie in hand.
Mr. Rooney stands up and approaches Mike Wallace, and explains to him who he is. He says to Wallace:
"I understand where you are coming from, wanting the type of money that you believe you are worth." He says, "My son, I don't believe you understand what exactly you are asking for, because you are giving up on what could be the most amazing thing possible.
"Though I cannot simply tell you what the consequences are for your actions, I believe that you need a history lesson if you are going to be the next great Steelers receiver."
Mr. Rooney then tells Wallace that he needs to understand the history if he is going to accept the future. Mr. Rooney then takes Wallace on a trip to the past.
In returning to the past, he takes Wallace back to the 1940's, and shows him what the Steelers USED to be like. He shows him the decades without playoffs or success. He then takes Wallace to the 50's, where he shows that the Steelers used to pay people more than they were worth.
He then takes Wallace to 1969, in the room where Art Rooney met with Chuck Noll, and Wallace got to see first hand the conversation where Chuck Noll explained to Mr. Rooney how his years of failure were based not on the players that were selected, but by paying people more than they were worth.
He sees when Chuck Noll told Mr. Rooney that the only way to have success was to build his team through the draft, be loyal to the players that made it and to build success instead of buying it.
Mr. Rooney then takes Wallace to 1972, as he stands on the sidelines of the old Three Rivers Stadium, when the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing the Oakland Raiders. As Wallace turns to the field, he watches as Terry Bradshaw throws a ball that is hit by an Oakland Raider (Jack Tatum name purposely withheld) and caught inches from the ground by Franco Harris as he runs into the end zone for a TOUCHDOWN, giving the Steelers their first playoff appearance.
They then go forward to 1976, as the Pittsburgh Steelers, led by that same Franco Harris won their first Super Bowl, and Harris was named Super Bowl MVP.
They then go to 1977, when the Steelers return to the Super Bowl, and Lynn Swann had four receptions for 161 yards and won the Super Bowl MVP.
Flash Forward to 2007, as the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing in Super Bowl XL. Hines Ward records 123 yards and a touchdown on five receptions on the way to the Super Bowl MVP.
Rooney then takes Wallace to 2009, when Santonio Holmes had nine receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown with :35 seconds left on the clock that won the Steelers Super Bowl XLIII, and gave Holmes the MVP award.
Rooney then brings Wallace back to Orlando, where he explains how the Steelers are known as a defensive team, and they have always been known as a running team, but having three different receivers as Super Bowl MVP shows that the receiver position in Pittsburgh is so important.
Mr. Rooney then explains to Mike Wallace that he will be visited by three more ghosts that night, to show him what is really going on.
[EDITORS NOTE: The years of those Super Bowls were the previous season, but it was that calender year that the Super Bowl was played]
Ghost of Steelers Past
As the room clears of the smoke, Wallace is left standing in the living room, wondering what just happened.
He believes that maybe he is just dehydrated, and that a long, hot shower may be just what he needs to clear his head.
As he gets out of the shower, the steam in the room is thick. Wallace wipes the mirror only to see the Ghost of Steelers Past, Franco Harris standing behind him.
Harris says to Wallace that he is in fact the Ghost of Steelers Past and says Wallace must come with him.
He takes Wallace back to 1988, when Merriweather, who was entering the final year of his contract. He shows that Merriweather was a Pro Bowl player for the Steelers in 1984-1986.
He then shows how the Steelers refused to negotiate with Merriweather as he did not report to camp and then decided that he was not going to report to the Steelers and sit out the entire 1988 season.
At the conclusion of the 1988 season, the Steelers traded Merriweather to the Minnesota Vikings for a first-round pick. Merriweather would then play another six seasons, with no more Pro Bowl appearances, and have less success than he ever had in Pittsburgh.
Harris then takes Wallace to 1984, when he asked the Rooney family for money and held out of training camp. Harris asked Wallace if he remembered the times that Mr. Rooney showed him the Immaculate Reception and the Super Bowl MVPs. Wallace said yes.
Wallace then watched as the Steelers released Franco and allowed him to join the Seattle Seahawks. Harris rushed for 170 yards in eight games, falling 192 yards short of the all-time rushing record held by Jim Brown and retiring from the NFL.
At that point, Harris takes Wallace to the Steelers offices in 2005, where the Steelers learned that Hines Ward was going to hold out for a larger contract. Dan Rooney said that he didn't care how great or how loved Hines Ward was, the Steelers ARE NOT going to be threatened by a hold out.
After two weeks of holding out, Ward returned to the Steelers, and the Rooney family welcomed him back with a contract extension within two weeks of his return.
Harris and Wallace then return to that smokey bathroom, where Harris explains that the Steelers are a certain way, and they WILL NOT deviate from that for anyone, including someone that won them their first playoff appearence and two different Super Bowl MVPs. He also showed him that they are more than capable of allowing someone to sit out an entire season and not let it hurt the team.
Harris takes a step backwards into the steam and disappears.
Ghost of Steelers Present
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
As Wallace leaves the bathroom, he is still uncertain that what he has seen is real. He goes to the kitchen to grab himself a Gatorade, when he hears a noise coming from the garage.
As he enters the garage, he sees the shadow of a man, but can not make out who it is.
He then hears a voice from his rookie season, Hines Ward walks out of the shadows into the view of Wallace.
As Wallace approaches Ward, Hines tells him that he is the Ghost of Steelers Present, and that he is there to show Wallace what the different paths he is considering may take.
As they get into the vehicle of Ike Taylor (Wallace is staying at Taylor's Orlando home), Hines puts the car in reverse and magically drives through the garage without making a dent.
As they appear in Pittsburgh, Wallace sees Antonio Brown at practice, running routes, being hit in stride from lasers from Ben Roethlisberger. He then watches Emmanuel Sanders in the "X" position, catching passes from Ben, looking like a super-star.
Sanders and Brown are celebrating with hugs from Roethlisberger, while Mike Tomlin and Todd Hailey are talking about having the best receiving corps in the NFL, even without Wallace.
Hines then takes Wallace back to the car, and in the blink of an eye, he is transported to New York, to watch Santonio Holmes missing practice. Being coached by Rex Ryan, and having Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow throwing him passes, none of which are any good.
Wallace sees Santonio on the sidelines, angry that he is not getting the ball thrown his way, and the misery on his face that he knew no matter who was throwing him passes, his career had already peaked.
Hines then takes Wallace back to 2008, and the two of them walked into a night club in New York City.
As Wallace said to Hines, "This is more like it", Hines told him that things aren't as they seem. As they approached the VIP section of the club, Plaxico Burress was sitting there with some of his friends, as he shot himself in the leg.
As Wallace turns to Hines and asks him, "Why are you showing me these things? PLEASE show me that things really aren't this bad."
The car then returned to Orlando, Florida, and Hines got out of the vehicle.
Wallace asked Hines if there is anything he could do to change these things, and Hines told him that he could, but he was still to be visited by another ghost, the Ghost of Steelers Future.
At that, Hines disappeared like the previous ghosts did, and Wallace was left in the passenger seat of the car.
Ghost of Steelers Future
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
As Wallace re-entered the house, he walked to the kitchen to grab himself a beer (obviously Gatorade didn't cut it last time), and when he opened the fridge, all the lights in the house went out, leaving Wallace in total darkness.
In the silence, he felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up and felt the presence of a dominating figure behind him. He could feel the warm presence on the back of his neck.
As he slowley turned around, he could see Mike Tomlin standing behind him.
Without saying a word, Tomlin pointed to the living room, where the big screen turned on.
On the screen, Wallace watched as there was a press conference for the St. Louis Rams.
There sitting next to Jeff Fisher and Sam Bradford was Wallace. Wallace had just signed his new contract for six years, and $60 million. You could see that he was happy he just got his pay day.
As Wallace turned to Tomlin, he said, "See, I told you I was worth that kind of money! I told you I would get that contract!"
As Tomlin looked at Wallace, he didn't say a word, but only put his index finger in front of his mouth, as if to say "SSSHHHHH."
Tomlin then pointed back to the TV, where we saw the Rams playing in various games, all of which Wallace was drawing constant double teams, and not having the ball come his way enough.
Even when the ball was coming his way, he was having to battle two or three defenders to bring down the pass.
Tomlin then pointed over to the laptop that was sitting in the corner. Wallace walked over to the computer and looked, and the numbers that he saw were beyond scary.
Wallace saw that his career average in catches, yards and touchdowns dropped drastically after he left the Steelers.
Tomlin then took Wallace by the back of the shirt, and pulled him into another room.
In that other room, was the press office at Steelers headquarters. Wallace watched as Emmanuel Sanders was introduced after signing his new contract extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Sanders said he was glad to be with such a great organization, and that he is happy to be making the $9 million per year average that he got.
As Wallace turns to talk to Mike Tomlin, again he is grabbed by the back of his shirt and pulled him through another door.
This door lead to the New Orleans Super Dome, and inside, Wallace watched as Antonio Brown was standing on the podium holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Tomlin then grabbed Wallace again, and pulled him through another door.
Again, Wallace witnessed as Ben Roethlisberger handed another Lombardi Trophy to Emmanuel Sanders, as they celebrated winning another Super Bowl.
Then one more time, Wallace was pulled by Tomlin through yet another door, as he entered a hall way in Canton, Ohio.
At the end of a hall way they had to walk down, you could see the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Being inducted was Emmanuel Sanders.
Standing behind Sanders, wearing those beautiful yellow suite jackets were Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Troy Polamalu and Maurkice Pouncey.
As Wallace turned to his left, he could see the crowd of Steelers Nation standing there, with the "HERE WE GO STEELERS, HERE WE GO!" chant.
As Wallace put his hands to his face, and asked Mike Tomlin to stop showing him these things, the chant died down, and as the light went away, Wallace was again standing in the living room, with Mike Tomlin standing if front of him.
Wallace said, "Is this REALLY what the future hold for me? Is there anything I can do to change this?"
Tomlin only said that the future is not set in stone, and if Wallace were to return to the Steelers, stop being so greedy and sign his tender; a long-term deal could still be reached.
But, he would have to give up on his greed, and return to the only team he has a real chance at success with.
With that, Tomlin faded back into the darkness, and Wallace was left alone.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Though this story is not factual (at least not yet), the odds of Mike Wallace having any type of success that he believes he can have are hanging in the balance, and the decisions he makes over the next three weeks are paramount to the future of his career.
In Pittsburgh, he will never make the kind of money that he may make somewhere else, and if money is the only thing he is looking for at this point, then when he leaves, he will see that money really isn't that important.
If on the other hand, Wallace is willing to take less in Pittsburgh, then he COULD end up having a Hall of Fame career, with the chance of multiple Super Bowl championships and still make a lot of money.
Everything hangs in the balance for the future of Mike Wallace, but the best it could be, is if he is in Pittsburgh.