The Pittsburgh Steelers have been extremely active since the NFL’s legal tampering period began a few weeks ago, and one of their additions is ready to make a difference on the team’s defense.
After the organization addressed the offensive line, they turned their attention to the secondary. No, it wasn’t re-signing Joe Haden or Ahkello Witherspoon, although Witherspoon was later retained, it was them brining in former Buffalo Bills cornerback Levi Wallace.
Wallace recently joined The Jim Rome Show and spoke with Rome about his second stint in free agency, and how he chose the Steelers.
“It’s really crazy.” Wallace said. “Just wanted to try to get back to Buffalo, but the Steelers weren’t even on my radar honestly, and they kinda came out of nowhere and I ended up going with them.”
What Rome immediately brought up was how Wallace’s mother grew up a Steelers fan, and is still a follower of the team. Did it play a role in his decision making process?
“It didn't play any factor, other than my mom’s excitement when I told her I was thinking about signing with Pittsburgh.”
So, if his mother’s passion for the Steelers wasn’t an underlying factor, what was it which attracted him to the Steelers? Especially when he wanted to remain in Buffalo.
“I think playing against them the past couple of years and seeing their team dynamic, and how they play on defense. I really admired that, just trying to figure out where is a good place for me to be.” Wallace said.
But how they play defense wasn’t the entire story. In fact, he decided to pray about the decision before finally making it, and he asked for a sign. He got one, and it resulted in him coming to the Steel City.
“I just prayed about it.” Wallace recalled. “I wanted to go back to Buffalo, and Pittsburgh came with the opportunity and I told my agent, “Let me call you back. Let me pray about it.” I asked the Lord for a sign and I looked down and I was wearing black and gold shorts and I was like, I guess I’m going to Pittsburgh.”
Steelers fans should be happy with Wallace’s wardrobe selection, but what Wallace is happy about is the team’s tradition. It started with his Mom telling stories about the Steel Curtain defense, and it saw the tradition first-hand by going against the team the past few season.
“Just going against them the last couple of years, the thing which always stood out to me was the defense. My mom grew up a Steelers fan and always talked about the Steel Curtain and how dominant they were back in the day. Over the years, looking at the defense being led by Troy Polamalu and those guys, they were definitely a smash mouth football team. I thought it would be so cool to be a part of that defense, and the opportunity came so I took advantage of it.”
If you were a fan who didn’t know Wallace when the team announced the acquisition, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. While those in Buffalo certainly know about Wallace’s journey from the University of Alabama to the NFL, Steelers fans don’t really know what Wallace brings to the team. He told Rome exactly what he brings to the organization, and it starts with intelligence and competitiveness.
“Intelligence plays a big role.” Wallace said. “The film study and overall competitiveness both on and off the field. I bring that to play in Uno or Chess or something.
“Football is one of those games many people think I’m soft-spoken, which I am off the field, but when I get on the field it’s like a switch flips on and I kind of change. It’s all about having fun, and I feel like I’m a dog out there each and every play, each and every practice. I try to constantly try to be the best version of myself.”
When you do some digging on Wallace’s play throughout his time in the NFL, you might hear experts call him an elite “off” corner. This is a credit to his development and work ethic, considering he didn’t have much experience with off coverage when he came to the Bills.
“I never really played off [coverage] until I got to Buffalo.” said Wallace. “It was a lot of press back at Alabama, a lot of man coverage. I had to develop it, and it took time to got there. Under Tre’Davious [White] and under his tutelage really helped me get to where I needed to go. Watching him and film study, being patient, trusting your feet and trusting yourself. It’s really hard trusting yourself, especially when you have guys flying at you and it seems like every year these guys get faster. So, it’s all about being patient and trusting yourself.”
The Steelers moved quickly with signing Wallace, and it speaks volumes about how they feel about him as a player. With that said, Wallace being in the secondary, with his versatility, is a great addition to the defense who could use a bump in the back end. In other words, fans should be excited about the addition of Wallace to the team in 2022 and beyond.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the rest of free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft.