Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin always chided his former wide receiver, Mike Wallace, by calling him a one-trick pony. It was a motivational ploy to attempt to coax the talented player to work on expanding his repertoire as a playmaker for the team. The only arrow in his quiver that really intimidates anybody was his 4.3 speed.
While he, of course, did contribute more than just go routes, Wallace never did develop into the all-around wide receiver that the Steelers were on the verge of paying him to be, before he determined that he was worth more than they were willing to pay.
Since leaving the team after his first four seasons, he has made three stops elsewhere. He signed what was at the time a massive contract with the Dolphins, but only saw through the first two years of the deal before he was traded to the Vikings, who released him a year later. He has been with the Ravens the past two seasons.
One common thread in each of his stops has been a certain attitude that Wallace has seemingly decided is just par for the course. He has demanded the ball throughout his career, but hasn’t always gotten it. And frankly, he’s often dropped it when he has.
For at least the second time this season, he was caught yelling about wanting the football on Sunday. After the game, he explained that it was exactly what it looked like. “I wanted the ****ing ball”, he said. “That’s what I was trying to say. That’s what I will always say. Give me the ball. I’m going to make plays. That’s what I do. So if you give me the ball, I’m going to make plays”.
Appealing to the stereotype of the ‘diva wide receiver’, Wallace said, “I’m an emotional player like 95 percent of the other wide receivers in the league. That’s why I love being here. The coaches love it, I love it and it’s just spur of the moment. I want the rock”.
And to be fair, even Antonio Brown throws water coolers from time to time. But Antonio Brown is also Antonio Brown. Mike Wallace is merely Mike Wallace. Still, he feels as though he has still found a good fit in Baltimore, both on and off the field.
“Oh yeah, we’re good” he said about his teammates’ and coaches’ reaction to him. “I love these guys, and I love the coaches. I love playing on this team, and I love my coaches, and I love my quarterback. It’s just a situation where you want to make plays and you want to put them away”.
“You see that all the time on our sideline. It’s not a thing”, he said. “That’s no sweat off somebody’s back. They probably didn’t even hear me. They probably weren’t paying attention and didn’t even care about what I said. That’s just the team we are. They let guys vent. As long as you’re winning and playing well, Coach Harbs could care less”.