Really, I only started thinking about Hines because of what being a hero means to not only an organization, but to the person himself. And this is where the part about Mike Wallace begins.
Yep. This is a business story. But it’s a story about a hero spending his entire career in Pittsburgh and being able to cash his check or anything else in this town anytime he wants. Even today we’re pining for him to out-tough the other team’s tough guy.
Ward’s a legitimate hero in this town. He managed himself the right way and left with the ability to come and go and use his key to the city any time he pleases.
Wallace? Well, for $11 million per year instead of $9.5 million per year, he will be able to cash plenty of checks for a few years or so in Tampa. Or Phoenix. Or Seattle.
Not that it matters. What matters is that he will not become a hero if he leaves after this season, and that appears to be his path. But before he goes he has one last chance to take a look around, to talk to guys like Brandon Johnson and Jerricho Cotchery.
Johnson is a reserve linebacker who signed with the Steelers after he was cast off by the Bengals
Yes, it was embarrassing but Johnson’s a classy guy, too classy to take any verbal swipes at his own team. So here’s what he had to say about his new team:
“It’s a group that really understands how to win, how to prepare, and how to go about things. From a simple practice to the preparation in the meeting room, I see a group that really understands how to get things done.”
Brandon Johnson had to go through hell before he went to heaven here in Pittsburgh. So did Cotchery.
He’s another classy guy, also too classy to take potshots at his old team, the New York Jets, as they prepared to play the Steelers on Sunday.
Oh, Cotchery said some things the Jets may not have liked, but they were truths, not potshots as he explained why he chose to stay in Pittsburgh instead of re-joining the Jets last April.
“Pittsburgh really wanted me back here,” he said. “It’s a place I wanted to come back to. I don’t think any team would’ve come between that at that time. It’s just a great atmosphere here. Once you’re a part of this atmosphere, it’s hard to go somewhere else. That’s just the type of atmosphere it is.”
The atmosphere is such that Cotchery’s really not even worried about gaining any personal satisfaction in beating the Jets.
“I’m not emotionally attached to playing these guys,” he said. “I’m not. I think my reason for feeling that way right now is the guys in this locker room. They welcomed me from Day One and they made me feel like I was a Steeler. They didn’t care how long I had been with anyone else, once you put on this jersey you’re a Steeler. They embraced me, so it was easy for me to transition.
“I’m a Steeler. I’m a Steeler,” he said with an almost disbelieving smile. “It’s like everything else doesn’t really have a huge effect on me.”
A little over the top? Well, if you had seen Cotchery last season – when Wallace overheard me asking Cotchery about a rumored trade back to the Jets, and how Wallace shouted out my question to Ben Roethlisberger, and how Roethlisberger corralled Ward and Wallace and the rest of the players on that side of the room, and how they circled Cotchery and begin chanting, “Jets suck! Jets suck! Jets suck!” – you might understand how Cotchery could feel so strongly about a team. So take a look around, Mike. Talk to some people. Don’t turn your life into just another business story.