Once competitors for the ball in Pittsburgh, now competitors for statistical superiority among the rest of the league. Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace are moving in opposite directions.
Wallace, the recipient of a $60 million contract from Miami this offseason after playing four years in Pittsburgh, has 40 catches for 495 yards and one touchdown. Brown (67, 805, 3) beats Wallace in all three categories by significant margins.
Not that Brown is gloating. The opposite, in fact.
According to Alan Robinson of the Tribune-Review, Brown sent a message of encouragement to his former teammate - just a few days after Wallace was held to four catches for 15 yards in a loss to previously winless Tampa Bay.
"I think he's handling things well," Brown told Robinson. I told him to have fun — and let him know he's one of the best when he's out there having fun and being positive," said Brown, who leads the NFL with 67 catches. "I just reminded him to get back to that. He's a great player … a great dude to be around."
The Dolphins are averaging 21.4 points a game - 20th in the NFL. That's up from the 18 points the team scored per game in 2012, but a far cry from what was expected with the insertion of a big-play threat like Wallace.
But with Wallace on pace for 71 catches, 880 yards and two touchdowns (making him one of the most expensive players per touchdown in the NFL), not to mention the team-dividing scandal involving offensive tackle Jonathan Martin and guard Richie Incognito, it may be difficult for Wallace to get back to being positive - assuming that is, in fact, something for which he's known.
It's reasonable to suggest Brown has more reason to be optimistic. He leads the NFL in catches with 67 receptions and has an outside chance of notching his second 1,000 yard season against the Lions Sunday.
The Steelers host the Dolphins in Week 14, and there's basically no chance Steelers fans extend the same kind of message to Wallace upon his arrival. But at least he knows one of his former teammates has his back.
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