This offseason featured a few major components to the Steelrs for the past few seasons going to other franchises for big money contracts. Two players within those that departed were Mike Wallace and Keenan Lewis.
The two have been close friends since they were five years old, and played on the same team in high school. Despite going to different colleges to play football, fate wound them drafted together on the same professional football team in the same round of the 2009 draft.
In their collective four years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, both Lewis and Wallace earned positions in the starting lineup and became key cogs on their respective sides of the ball. Mike Wallace became known as one of the fastest players in the league and averaged eight touchdowns for every year he played in Pittsburgh, while Lewis became a significant cover cornerback in a defense that desperately needed it.
Although they were not dominating forces that controlled games, they were both good enough players to contribute to the team's success over the years. Ironically enough, the Steelers were unable to retain either of their services upon the conclusion of their rookie contracts.
Lewis signed a five-year $25.5 million contract for the New Orleans Saints, while Wallace signed a five-year $60 million contract with the Miami Dolphins. (He also turned down a $76 million contract with the Vikings because he said "money isn't everything." But that's another story.)
Tonight, the two players get to face off against each other under the Monday night lights of the NFL, both playing for undefeated teams going into week four of the 2013 season. While the team they left is currently struggling to find one win going into their week five bye.
Sure, appearances may be that the two got out of Dodge at the right time, or that their roles might have been more important to the team than most people realized. Either way, their departures can be looked at as a result of Kevin Colbert working to keep together a nucleus of players that were part of two Superbowl victories that created a salary cap crisis which included them in a list of roster casualties to Pittsburgh.
Doesn't mean that the moves weren't warranted at the time, but it's a situation that's as real as the Lombardi trophies that were won because of some of the players Colbert fought to keep in the franchise.
Wallace has twelve catches for 152 yards and a touchdown going into tonight; which is second on the team to Brian Hartline's 18 catches for 238 yards and two touchdowns. Lewis currently has two passes defended, a forced fumble and an interception; which gives him more takeaways than the entire Steelers defense thus far.
The two get a center stage of Monday night football in a game between two potential playoff teams, while the Steelers are licking their wounds and looking for answers.
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