Due to circumstances beyond my control, there will be no recap of the Mike Tomlin press conference this week. Believe me, I’m just as disappointed as all of you. Evidently at one point, Tomlin quoted Iron Maiden by saying, “If you’re gonna die, you die with your boots on.” If he works a Poison reference into his next presser, I may have to scrap my usual snarkiness and write a 1,000 word opus on how freakin’ cool Coach T can be.
In the meantime, there has been another development in the other big subplot to this Pittsburgh Steelers season. It’s been nearly two weeks since NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport came out with his fictitious story that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would ask to be traded this off-season. Last Thursday, NFL Network decided to double down on the lunacy by not only bringing Rapoport back to repeat his nonsense but add in unverified unattributed reports that the team felt Ben “wasn’t Peyton Manning” in terms of studying the playbook and GM Kevin Colbert was at the Clemson game to scout his eventual replacement, Tajh Boyd.
Ben, on his weekly radio show, has vehemently denied the initial report time and time again using plain and unambiguous language such as, “I don’t wanna go anywhere.” Ben’s agent made it clear his client wants to stay in Pittsburgh. Other than Mark Madden, whose entire act is based on trolling the audience, not a single local sportswriter or sportscaster has lent any credence to idea Ben wants to leave or the team wants him gone. Quite simply, it appears Rapoport was fed info from a ball boy and decided to turn it into a scoop through lies and exaggeration.
And it’s not just myself or local reporters who are beginning to think Rapoport pulled this story out of thin air. Ben himself said on his weekly radio show, “Every week it’s something fun. JCo [Jerricho Cotchery] asked me today what’s the new rumor this week, so we’re always excited to see what Ian’s gonna make up this week.” Give credit, though, this bogus story succeeded in one thing – bringing Rapoport more attention than he’s received throughout his entire unremarkable career.
With Rapoport’s story looking more and more dubious, the anti-Steeler factions of the national media – chief among them Mike Florio – needed some other angle to give this non-story some legs. So for that reason the conversation has shifted in the past week from “Ben hates the direction of the team” to “Ben wants paid more.” With the Steelers in Salary Cap Hell the question have now become, does Ben feel he’s underpaid and how can the Steelers afford him if he asks for a bigger contract?
First off, the notion Ben is grossly underpaid is a ludicrous. The highest paid QB in the league is Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers at $22 million. Behind him are two overpaid shitbums, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. Then there’s Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, who round out the $20 million club. Ben’s current deal calls for him to make in excess of $17 million the next couple seasons.
Does he deserve to be paid like a top 5 quarterback? Absolutely. But is $3-4 million below those guys a slap in Ben’s face? Ridiculous.
Besides, did anybody notice a notable name not on that list? I’ll give you some hints. He’s married to a Brazilian supermodel. He has fabulous fashion sense. He dropped 55 points on the Black and Gold a few weeks back.
Yes, Tom Brady is not one of the top 5 highest paid quarterbacks. That’s because he signed with the Patriots for below market value in order to give them wiggle room under the salary cap. Brady clearly has no desire to leave New England. And he also has no desire to play for a last place team so he gave the Patriots the cap room to go out and improve the team.
The question was put to Ben on his radio show, would he be willing to sacrifice a few million dollars if it allowed the Steelers to address some of their many needs? “Obviously, I would do whatever I needed to do.” Roethlisberger said. In case that wasn’t clear enough, he would add ” I have people that deal with that stuff, so I’ll do whatever it takes to stay here and to be a part of this team and to help this team out.”
So while Ben may not be Peyton Manning it appears he’s willing to be a Tom Brady.