clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

If Maurkice Pouncey matures into a model citizen, he wouldn't be the first Steelers great to do so

New, comments

Steelers Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey has given fans lots of reasons to dislike him in recent years thanks to some questionable decisions away from the football field. But Rod Woodson, who spent 10 seasons in Pittsburgh on the way to becoming one of the all-time great cornerbacks in NFL history, also had some legal problems early in his career, before becoming a player and a person fans could be proud of.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If you google Rod Woodson, the decorated cornerback who played 10 speculator seasons with the Steelers, you're going to find many great articles and highlight videos of the Hall of Famer, lauding his outstanding career.

But what you won't find is a very checkered start to his NFL career, in-which he was arrested three times from 1988-1992. You'll only find out about that if you google "Rod Woodson arrests."

In April of 1988, Woodson was arrested and charged with stealing tip money from a restaurant in West Lafayette, Indiana.

A year later, in June of 1989, Woodson and his brother were arrested outside of a Fort Wayne nightclub and charged with battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Finally, in May of 1992, Woodson was arrested yet again, this time after a domestic dispute involving his brother and the family's decision to take their terminally ill father off life-support. (This dispute also involved more battery on police officers.)

Obviously, Woodson never spent any time in prison, and he was able to have a career that spanned 17 seasons where he filled his future Hall of Fame resume by nabbing 71 interceptions to go along with 11 Pro Bowls, an NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 1993, and maybe the greatest honor of all, he was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team in 1994.

Today, approaching his 50th birthday, Woodson is a family man with five children, who has been involved in coaching and broadcasting since his retirement, with the legal problems he experienced early in his football career so far out of sight and mind, they're not even included on his wikipedia page.

When you go to Heinz Field on Sundays, Woodson's No. 26 jersey is usually represented quite nicely by fans who remember his career and have no problem donning a replica in his honor.

What would the outcry and outcome be today, if a player of Woodson's abilities was arrested three times in a span of four years? Would he be suspended by the NFL? Would he be released by the team? Would fans feel ashamed to wear his replica jersey? Would they demand he be traded for staining the franchise's supposedly squeaky clean image? After all, the Steelers would have never let a player get away with so much in the past, right?

Although never arrested, Steelers Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey has certainly had his share of bad PR, both with the fans for some twitter battles as well as the poor decision to don a "Free Hernandez" baseball cap last summer, and now legally, thanks to a lawsuit filed by plaintiffs--including a woman and a gay man--who claim that Pouncey, along with his twin brother and fellow NFL lineman, Mike, assaulted them in a Miami nightclub two weeks ago.

It's worth noting that no charges have been filed by police in this case, but, again, in today's climate, would that stop the NFL from bringing down the hammer on Pouncey and his twin brother?

As we found out many times in recent years--including the four-game suspension that Ben Roethlisberger was handed back in 2010 despite being cleared of any criminal wrong-doing in an alleged sexual assault--it wouldn't be totally out of left field if both Pouncey brothers found themselves missing a few Sundays and some game checks in the near future.

In 2014, Maurkice Pouncey, 25, is considered a bad egg by many people, who maybe cringe at the team's decision to sign the three-time Pro Bowl player to a huge contract extension in June. And perhaps it's easy to see why.

Some fans might feel embarrassed by Pouncey and could never see themselves donning his No. 53 jersey. Again, totally understandable.

It obviously remains to be seen if Pouncey will eventually mature and become a model citizen who keeps his nose clean and is soon only remembered for his athleticism and ability to win more battles in the trenches than he loses.

Maybe if Pouncey does mature while continuing his Pro Bowl-level play, 20 years from now, No. 53 replicas will be represented quite nicely at Heinz Field, and someone will have to search really hard to find anything unsavory about him on the Internet.