Drew Rosenhaus knows that the Pittsburgh Steelers are not like almost any other organization in the NFL in terms of both their history and in their business practices. This is both a positive and a negative for him within the confines of his job. He knows that signing with the Steelers typically offers his clients more practical long-term security but minimal concrete financial security and typically a low upfront value.
According to former Steelers center Justin Hartwig, Rosenhaus, who was his agent at the time, advised him to sign with Pittsburgh in free agency, as he told Jim Trotter. “He said, ‘when a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers wants to sign you, there’s something to be said for that. If all things are equal, you go play for the Steelers because of what a special organization it is”.
Fast forward a decade and you have Rosenhaus facilitating a player breaking a contract that he negotiated with the Steelers the year before by forcing the organization to agree to trade him, perhaps advising him to create a toxic environment around himself.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Rosenhaus lied then or now or that he changed his mind. What he said then and his actions since then are not necessarily contradictory. Rosenhaus ultimately has a job to do, and he did that for his client, Antonio Brown, turning $0 guaranteed into something like $30 million, and earning a pay raise in the process. Not all of his clients are Brown, however.
“You have to understand that playing in Pittsburgh is not like playing in other cities”, Hartwig added to Trotter. “In Pittsburgh, you have a legacy. If I would have stayed with the Carolina Panthers for a few more years, that would not mean as much as if you were to play 10 years for the Steelers. You are family in the city of Pittsburgh long after you’re done playing. Guys usually want to stay there”.
Hartwig played his final two seasons during his 10-year career with the Steelers, during which he played in every game and won the Super Bowl in 2008. Interestingly enough, he lost out for a roster spot in 2010 after the team drafted Maurkice Pouncey in the first round.
He made it clear that he has not inside knowledge about what is currently going on in Pittsburgh and has not spent a lot of time around the team since he last played for him. However, he recalls his time there fondly, and said that what they had on the team at the time worked.
“Everything that I heard in the media is that some guys wanted to be above the law”, he said. “The biggest thing that can fracture a locker room is when guys want to stand out and have special considerations for themselves, especially if a coach is not reining those types of things in. The Rooneys are trying to do the right thing. They had a couple of superstars on their team, and individually it’s time to move on from those situations. I think they’re trying to get it right and stick to the ways they’ve always done things as an organization”.