A Pittsburgh sports team has made big news for signing one of their star players to a long term contract extension. Hint: it wasn’t the Pittsburgh Steelers.
At the risk of repeating myself, for the second time this week the Pittsburgh Penguins have done something the Steelers have thus far failed to do. Yesterday, they successfully inked superstar center Sidney Crosby to a 12 year $104.4 million contract extension which effectively keeps him in black and gold for the balance of his career. The new deal, which works out to a tidy $8.7 million per season, natch, is noteworthy for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is that it’s a reasonable compromise for both sides.
What a concept.
I know it seems strange to say the Pens got a deal when they agreed to pay a guy with a troublesome history of concussions over a hundred million dollars but for the best hockey player on the planet, it’s actually a bargain. Guys such as Marian Gaborik, Patrick Kane and Scotty Gomez each make around the same amount per year and none of them can touch a healthy Sid in terms of pure skillz. Crosby could’ve demanded to be the highest paid player in the NHL and there would’ve been no question he deserved it. If the Pens didn’t or couldn’t pay him, 29 other teams would’ve been more than willing to do so.
But he didn’t. Making nine million dollars a year, it’s not like he’s going to be living in Sto-Rox and eating Beef O-Roni out of a can (Unless he wants to. Mmm…) but at the same time he left money on the table. Under the current system, Sid could be making two or three million more per season easily. And given that the nature of sports salaries is to keep going up, who knows what a marquee superstar will be worth four or five years from now. By signing for what he did, he could conceivably be walking away from another $25-30 million over the course of his playing career.
Why did he do that? Well, it’s like I said in my previous post about Jordan Staal, the NHL is a salary cap league. If you give all your money to one or two players, you have to scrimp and save on the others. Crosby would rather skim a few million off his paycheck so the team can go out and make itself better than take all he can for himself and say to hell with everybody else. What a novel concept!
Which brings me back to the Steelers and Mike Wallace. Unlike Crosby, Wallace isn’t the best player in his league. Wallace isn’t the best at his position. One could even argue he’s not even the best at his position on his own team. Yet he wants a contract which would set a new standard at wide receiver while putting a major dent into the Steelers’ salary cap. There doesn’t seem to be any room for compromise either, despite the Steelers good faith efforts.
I guess I shouldn’t expect better from some greedy bastard whose chosen nickname is Young Money. But Sid’s situation really does illustrate the value of character. I’m not saying the Penguins are the greatest franchise ever or anything. The Steelers are still Pittsburgh’s crown jewel with a level of success which speaks for itself. However, a lot of that success was built with guys like Jerome Bettis and Hines Ward, guys who didn’t play just for paychecks, guys who actually took pay cuts or signed for less than market value because they put a premium on winning. If Wallace truly represents the new breed of Steeler, I can’t help but fear for what the future holds.