H’mm, let me see. The last time that I checked the word par meant equal and the word value meant worth. Okay equal worth or as the French might say, equipoise or something similar. Now let’s take the case of the city of Pittsburgh sports franchises, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Now I know the rules, Pittsburgh like many of the “blue collar” Eurocentric cities across America was founded on the principles of hard work, ya know an equal day of blood sweat and tears for a mythical day of so-called equal pay. Now, now, now, that being said let’s get busy. The Steelers recently signed Steve McLendon D-lineman/Nose tackle to a three-year contract. The deal was reportedly worth $7.25 million with $1.67 million of that in a signing bonus. McLendon is truly a product of the Steelers “homegrown system” joining the team as a rookie in 2009. According to a report by Ed Bouchette, “McLendon, projected to replace Casey Hampton as their starting nose tackle, was a restricted free agent who [recently] paid a visit to the Green Bay Packers.”
Why in the hell do the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to have a problem or some sort of macabre fetish in regards to signing players that they know are vital to their continued success. Pittsburgh knew that two years ago Casey “Big Snack” Hampton was on his way out. They should have then “snuck” in the back door and signed McLendon to a five or six year a few seasons ago. The deal should have been back loaded with performance and health clauses along with a signing bonus that could have stipulated that the “dough” be distributed in such a way that it would have little or no effect on the “cap.” It seems to me that the Steelers management rolls into the negotiating table like a bull in a china shop armed with a few cans of Vienna sausage, along with a couple pieces of Swiss cheese with a few soda crackers on the side. Hey whatever happened to the filet mignon, caviar, champagne and a bit of schmoozing? Nowadays the allure of placing a few more zeroes in the coffers of Bank of America holds a little more juice for the Pittsburgh Steelers players than strolling past six Lombardi trophies on their way to work. Why in the hell do other teams have to put bonfires under the asses of the Steelers management by riding into the Steel City on white horses armed with fat checkbooks and ink pens dripping with promise in courting the Steelers players who only have a desire to play for the Black and Gold and only wish to call the city of Steel home. I don’t understand why the management team of the Black and Gold seem to almost always get caught with their pants down or more often than not experience the “ostrich syndrome.” Oh, you say that you don’t know what the “ostrich syndrome” is? Well it means putting your head in the sand before figuring out that you cannot inhale earth, fire or water and continue to inhabit the earth; well, only with the exception of becoming part of the landscape.
Pittsburgh knew about the promise of departed wide receiver Mike Wallace. They knew that the “slew-footed” wide receiver could out run the nearest “speeding” bullet and a ten yard gain could be a reasonable yards per reception stat being as though most defensive backs played at least ten yards off of the line of scrimmage when they were faced with single coverage of Monsieur Wallace. Did Mike Wallace “dog it” and preserve himself for unrestricted free agency so that he could get paid? He most possibly could have. Did the Steelers “dog it” by calling his number less, and having him involved less and less attempting to dilute his value all the while making it appear that his less than productive year was based on his lack of effort. They most possibly could have. Wallace is just one of the latest examples of the Steelers planting the seed and nurturing the tree only to have another franchise have sweet nectar running down their chin. Now back to the desert. The Steelers allowing ex-first round running back Rashard Mendenhall to depart for the less humid desert oasis of the Arizona Cardinals after Mr. Mendenhall experienced a “less than stellar” 2012 campaign including a short term lease in the doghouse and another holiday weekend or two in the outhouse of one Mike Tomlin. What were the violations of Rashard? Well from what I can see and the snippets of conversations that I have been privy to; he was just Rashard, being Rashard, selfish, questionable work ethic, semi hands of stone. When Mendenhall was drafted along with reciever Limas “please don’t send me across the middle Boss” Sweed, I could not figure out why the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears (who were in the same market where Mendenhall played his college ball) passed on Rashard. See folks unless your name is Roethlisberger or Polomalu your chance at getting some serious dough in Pittsburgh is slim and none.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741.)