Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's Been A Long Time: Mike Wallace, James Harrison and Jason Worilds Are Back

"Follow procedures, the crowd couldn't wait to see this.
Nobody been this long awaited since Jesus...." - Rakim ~ "It's Been A Long Time"

"@Wallace17_daKid: Sorry for the wait!! #Steelernation"

That was the tweet sent out by Mike Wallace shortly after arriving at the Steelers south side facility on Tuesday. He spoke to the media Tuesday afternoon after arriving earlier in the day and clarified some things and was unapologetic about others. It wasn't that media we at If It Ain't Steel are going to focus on, though.

Social media was all a twitter (pun intended) with the news of the return of the speedy wide receiver. As good as the news is for the Steelers on the field, there were still mixed reactions from fans. 

“@pghsteelersgrl: For the record, Mike Wallace is still on my sh** list, and will remain there unless he has an amazing season.” 

“@PghGurl: I know this isn't a popular opinion, but I am SO FREAKING EXCITED that Mike Wallace is back & I welcome him back with open arms.”

"@HoffDwight: It's a shame that greed has become the root of all evil for Mike Wallace not just him all NFL Players it really makes me sick"

“@SportsChick24_7: I didn't think I was getting paid enough, so I told my boss I was holding out... I'm now unemployed.”  

Patty Cain Biondillo on Facebook: "WALLACE AT SOUTHSIDE FACILITY. PRESS CONFERENCE AT 1:30!!!!! :)"

I think Patty's excited...

Wallace has rubbed many the wrong way this offseason with how he's handled his contract situation. As was said in a previous blog post, because there has been a perceived Divo attitude, he could've gone a long way in correcting that and assuaged a lot of acrimony by saying SOMETHING definitive.

As long as there's no actual Divo attitude, though, let's just get to work. 

All through this ordeal and holdout, we've expressed the Steelers' need of Mike Wallace. The benefits of the only receiver in the NFL with more than 1,000 receiving yards as well as a better than 16.0 yard per average in each of the last two seasons. The speed, the explosion, the decoy factor and the fear factor. 

We have also criticized where appropriate. Despite the above numbers, we've spoken also of the drop off in the second half of the season. More than the drop off is the appearance of being disenchanted if not involved early in the game. Also, there were the decisions he's made and the comments in an early offseason interview. Despite these, though, we've never overtly bashed him.

That said, then, two of the above quotes stood out to us and we wanted to touch on them quickly. Bear in mind, we follow and, in a couple of cases, even befriend the people quoted above, so we're only using their posts because we respect their opinions, knowledge, rationale and/or ardor. First, therefore, being the words, "greed has become the root of all evil for Mike Wallace." 

Though valid, our response to that would be, "When did he actually say he wanted all that (Larry Fitzgerald) money? Show me the actual quote." We don't know his actual demands. We only have nebulous reports. No, Wallace hasn't handled this the best, but we would contend that it was more about the threat (fear?) of injury than him doing his best Dr. Evil impression and demanding ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS!  

Look, I'm not stupid, I know he wants to get paid. But, just because there was a holdout doesn't mean he wanted $120 million with he and the Steelers being $70 million at that point. They could very easily only have been an approximate $8 million (which I believe is the actual case) apart. 

Next was the posting that suggested that we'd be unemployed if we common folk tried to "hold out" for more money at our jobs. A common notion, if not incorrect. 

Incorrect in that, in a sense, Wallace already was unemployed. He hadn't signed his tender yet. So, even though the Steelers held his rights, he wasn't on TE payroll. That's not where I want to focus, though. What the focus will be is his being in a specialized profession. 

If you're an hourly wage worker, this doesn't necessarily apply to you. If you're a doctor, a lawyer, highly successful in sales or something of the like, you're in a specialized profession that is in demand and you damn well better believe you can "hold out" if you don't like what may be going on around you or if you believe you can get more or better elsewhere. 

You also absolutely could use that as leverage if offered or seeking more or better, causing the employer who currently carries your contract to up the ante if they don't want you to leave. To quote the movie Goodfellas, at that point it's "Fu** you! Pay me!" 

So, yes, this does happen in "real life" as it's been referred to before. While we've been miffed at him before too, we still won't hold it against him. Wallace and every other NFL player, relatively speaking, has a short career. They get 10 years, more if they're fortunate, and the second contract is the most important. 

So, while we at If It Ain't Steel may not be welcoming him back "with open arms," we aren't putting him on any list unless he has a great season, either. We simply expect Wallace to prove himself by getting into the playbook and then into, as his personal Twitter page says, "somebody's end zone."


Bob Labriola posted to his Twitter account Tuesday that, "Harrison and Worilds come off PUP. This means both will be on the season-opening 53-man roster come Friday, and not the reserve/PUP list."

More good news for the Steelers, though it is tempered with a touch of speculation considering both players have had difficult offseasons. Each is coming off of offseason surgery, knee surgery for Harrison and wrist for Worilds. 

The Silverback hasn't practiced since the Steelers first OTAs, as he had both left knee and back problems. He had the surgery done almost two weeks ago and said Tuesday in an interview that he is feeling a lot better now. Deebo did still refer to himself, though, as "day-to-day." 

Worilds missed all of the OTAs, minicamps and now Training Camp after having his wrist surgery. 

Neither player will play in the final preseason game Thursday against the Carolina Panthers, and there is question as to whether either will play much in the season opener in Denver. Nevertheless, both players will now go through the three-day acclimation period per the new CBA, which means only walk-throughs until Monday, September 3rd.

Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler has expressed concern over both, about which this blog has written before. Though veterans, especially in the case of Harrison, they still need practice time to get themselves into football conditioning and back up to game speed. Again, don't expect either to see a lot of action against the Broncos. Rather, barring setbacks, expect each to be brought along slowly until after the bye, while relying more heavily on LaMarr Woodley and Chris Carter in the interim.