The Pittsburgh Steelers have had more than their fair share of players decide that, once they become free agents, they want to take their skills to greener pastures. There are many Steelers greats that have ended their careers in colors other than Black and Gold.
The list is long and distinguished, from players like Franco Harris (Seattle Seahawks), Mike Webster (Kansas City Chiefs), Greg Lloyd (Carolina Panthers), Rod Woodson (San Francisco 49ers / Baltimore Ravens), and the list goes on and on.
Normally when a player leaves and if the Steelers decide that they no longer want to keep the player, he is not hated by Steelers Nation. Joey Porter is the most recent example of this. When he returned to Pittsburgh as a member of the Miami Dolphins, he was greeted with a round of cheers from Heinz Field.
Other players, such as Neil O'Donnell and Chad Brown, who slam the Steelers as they are walking out the door, become almost hated.
OK, not almost. HATED.
This brings to question the response that awaits Santonio Holmes when he returns to Pittsburgh as a member of the New York Jets on Sunday.
Holmes spent four years as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. His career with the Steelers, on the field, was one of the best four year stretch runs that almost any player has had joining the team as a rookie.
What Santonio Holmes brought to the table was a skill set that was not like what Steelers Nation has ever seen. Blazing speed, the ability to stretch the field, and was a killer against the Steelers AFC North foes; tormenting the Bengals, Browns, and especially the Ravens every time they played.
During the Steelers run to Super Bowl XLIII, Holmes was one of the main reasons that the Steelers won their sixth Lombardi Trophy. Between a 67 yard punt return against the San Diego Chargers to the final drive in the Super Bowl, odds are, had Holmes not been a member of the Steelers, we may not have even been in the Super Bowl.
Holmes was awarded the MVP of XLIII even though many believe that Ben Roethlisberger deserved it, but Holmes was a close second.
The problem Holmes had in Pittsburgh were more off the field than on it. He was arrested between being drafted by the Steelers and signing his rookie contract. He was again suspended for a game when he was caught with marijuana while driving. Holmes was then suspended for the first four games of this season due to testing positive for drugs.
The Steelers decided that it was in their best interest to ship Holmes out of Pittsburgh, and in turn, received a fifth round pick from the Jets, which they then traded to Arizona for another former Steeler, Bryant McFadden.
The question then becomes, how is Steelers Nation going to welcome Holmes back to Pittsburgh?
In an article on profootballtalk.com, Holmes believes that he is going to receive a standing ovation from the fans in attendance.
“I’m pretty sure [the fans] will give me a standing ovation once I get on the field,” Holmes said. “I’m pretty sure you’ll look in the stands and see a lot of No. 10 jerseys with ‘Holmes’ on the back from the Steelers.”
Is Santonio Holmes right? Will he get that standing ovation? Neither of that is really important in the grand scheme of things.
What matter most is that the Steelers defense does not allow his other prediction to come true.
What is his other prediction? To have a big game, and make the Steelers fans go home un-happy. Making comments like that is not going to help him get the standing ovation that he believes he is going to.