It was the Pittsburgh Steelers who first saw some special potential in Mike Wallace in 2009 when they used a third-round draft pick on the unpolished speedster that year. He spent the first four years of his career catching touchdowns for the team, even making the Pro Bowl and helping them reach a Super Bowl.
But the place never seemed to hold all that much sentimental value for the originator of the ‘Young Money Crew’ that consisted of himself and Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, the two of whom were drafted the year after Wallace.
He was the first to cash in—or was the first to be given the opportunity. As a restricted free agent in 2012, the Steelers attempted to sign him to a long-term extension, but a deal could not be reached. Instead, they worked out an extension for Brown, who was on just the third year of his contract.
He did cash in bigly the following year, signing what was at the time a massive contract with the Dolphins, but he is on his third team since then, spending a year in Minnesota and now seeing his second season with the Steelers’ rivals, the Baltimore Ravens.
Today will be the fourth time since leaving Pittsburgh that he has faced the Steelers, doing so once while in Miami, and this being his third game against his former team wearing the purple and black—the other side of a rivalry that I suppose he never personally took very seriously.
That is not to be construed—at least by me—as either a positive or a negative quality. But Wallace told reporters this week that it doesn’t concern him that the team next up on their schedule after a humiliating loss to the Jaguars in London is none other than his former team.
“I don’t care who we play“, he said when asked about his specific upcoming opponent. “It’s not about Pittsburgh. It’s about our team and rebounding because we lost and we want to get better for the next week. They just happen to be the next people up on the schedule”.
That is, I think, the right attitude and the right mentality to have, and I am not one to always credit him with being the wisest or most reasonable of players. I found him recently to be a little too adamant about his need for touches while the Ravens were winning, and his admission that he is not interested in blocking caught nobody off-guard.
But he is right here in being in the moment, with his team. For as far as he should be concerned, the Steelers are just the next opponent and nothing more. The opponent against whom the Ravens must avenge their loss in the game prior to this.