Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers clearly have a soft spot for the Steel City and their favorite football team, but for players, the NFL is a business. When given the chance to truly test their value on the open market, it is usually the highest bidder who wins their services for the next phase of their career.
But Pittsburgh is different.
You see more players choose to stay with the Steelers, even if they would make more elsewhere. For a number of reasons players choose to remain a Steeler, and two players in particular did just that this offseason when they signed new contracts days before free agency officially began.
For Ramon Foster and William Gay, they both had unique takes on the Steelers organization, and why they chose to stay.
"Here is where it's at," Foster told Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We're chasing that ring. The chance for the Super Bowl ring is more important than those extra Ms."
Those 'Ms' he is referring to are millions. Foster realizes there are few teams in the NFL who have a better chance to win a Lombardi trophy in 2016, and the on field success is ultimately more important than the extra money.
"There's a lot that goes into that," Foster said. "There is a lot here in Pittsburgh as far as the offensive line. We took years to build this thing the way we want to. We have great guys in place now. I guess you can call them blue-chippers. That chemistry we have, the quarterback, the skill guys we have on offense played a big part in that. It was an easy decision. The difference between $9 and $15 million, if you factor in if you're going to New York or someplace like that, with taxes and everything, it's not a big difference."
Foster has never known anything other than the Steelers organization. He was an undrafted rookie signing and turned himself into a rock solid starter along the offensive line. As for William Gay, he left after his rookie contract, only to return after a year with the Arizona Cardinals. He knows what it is like elsewhere.
"Man, I can't speak for Ramon, but I tried to leave and I'm back here," Gay said. "So I'm not doing it again."
"First and foremost they [the Steelers] gave me an opportunity to start the dream," Gay said. "Then they gave me another opportunity to continue it and now they gave me an extension of three years. It's just the love and family atmosphere around here, just the guys. Being an older guy now, I didn't want to leave this locker room being the father figure and go to another locker room playing the rookie role again."
In the modern era of free agency, the Steelers are truly a throwback. Back to the days of players spending their entire career under one roof, with one jersey and reaping the benefits. The core of the Steelers is intact heading into 2016, and it is time for these players who surpassed free agency to take the next step in their progression by winning their 7th Super Bowl in franchise history, proving they made the right choice by staying in the Steel City.