Comedian Chris Rock once opined that if Mick Jagger were a cab driver, he would be the ugliest man in the world.
Fortunately for Jagger, he is the lead singer for The Rolling Stones.
Pittsburgh Steelers soon-to-be free-agent wide receiver Mike Wallace is in a similar boat. If Wallace had average speed, he would be a cab driver in the NFL free agency world.
Fortunately for Wallace, he's the NFL's equivalent of a lead singer for the Stones—a wide receiver with exceptional speed.
This offseason, Steelers management probably won't be seduced by Wallace's ability to outrun the opposition and will most likely let him walk.
However, other teams will be led into the rocks by the siren call from Wallace's fast-twitch muscles and give him a cap-breaking deal.
In some ways, you can't blame them. As the saying goes, you can't teach speed.
While this is true, it's also a fool's gold platitude when it comes to assessing an NFL wide receiver.
Yes, speed is an auxiliary component, but it's not the main one. If being a successful wide receiver were strictly based on speed, then football would be called "track with a ball" or something less unwieldy.
But it's not. Therefore, the ability to run precise routes, find the open spot on the field and catch the ball in traffic rates higher on the football skill set scale than pure speed does.
Former Steeler Hines Ward embodied this skill. No one would ever mistake Ward for Usain Bolt when it came to speed. Yet, Ward was a more valuable wide receiver than Wallace currently is.
Even the legendary Jerry Rice didn't have world-class speed. But Rice's obsessive desire to run precise routes and his unwavering ability to catch the ball while under duress is the standard by which all wide receivers are measured.
Wallace doesn't meet that standard. Not even close.
But some team's management won't heed the warning and will open its pocket book to Wallace. It will be blinded by the beauty of Wallace's 40 time.
And it's almost guaranteed that the team will be a perennial also-ran looking for a quick fix to its eternal woes.
Indeed, seeing who gives Wallace an excessive contract next year gives fans an idea of which organization doesn't get it.
Fortunately for Steelers fans, the team gets it.
In other words, it sees Wallace for what he is—just a cab driver.
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