The hopes and dreams of many young men aspiring to play professional football in the NFL will finally come to fruition next month at the 2018 NFL Draft. For some, that draft day phone call they so desperately desire will never come and they are left hoping to be signed as a undrafted free agent by an NFL team. For that one last opportunity to keep their dreams alive. In the end, most will be forced to face the stark reality that it is time to begin their life’s work, never getting another chance to fulfill their NFL dreams.
Then you have Daniel McCullers. He just keeps getting chances because he has something you can’t teach or coach. The man is a behemoth, a proverbial mountain of a man. He is the player you want getting off the bus first for an away game, striking fear in the hearts of the opposition. In a league full of large men, he still stands out. However there is one large problem with McCullers, the elephant in the room if you will. He plays like a great big teddy bear instead of a mean old grizzly bear.
Daniel McCullers’ nickname is “Shade Tree”. It is a fitting moniker because he definitely cast a large shadow on a sunny day. His play on the field also resembles a tree in that he is far too often stationary, seemingly lacking the effort to be mobile. None other than the great “Mean” Joe Greene even questioned his desire and challenged him to be more competitive.
And you know what happened? Nothing.
McCullers reminds me of a character from the old Goldie Hawn movie Wildcats. I would recommend it if you haven’t yet had the opportunity to view it. In the movie there is a large young man named Phillip Finch. Hawn desperately needs him to play for her team and help turn the rag-tag bunch of losers around. Problem is he couldn’t care less about playing football. The only thing that motivated him was money. Without giving away any spoilers, in case some of you haven’t watched it yet, by the end of the movie somebody finally made him angry and turned him into a one man wrecking crew.
The Steelers have yet to figure out a way to push McCullers’ buttons.
So why did the Steelers re-sign McCullers after Kevin Colbert and Art Rooney II accused the defense of being “soft”? What kind of message does that send the rest of the team and the fan base? McCullers would have a better chance impersonating the State Puff Marshmallow Man than he would a professional football player thus far in his career. The Steelers prior acquisitions in free agency seemed to suggest the team had a renewed focus on tough, hard nosed football players.
This signing doesn’t fit the bill.
The key word when discussing McCullers is potential. The Steelers organization can’t seem to give up the hope that he will one day realize his potential.
It really isn’t much of a gamble. It is a low risk, possibly high reward situation. By signing him for the league minimum, the team hardly takes a cap hit if he continues to underwhelm and doesn’t make the team. However, the team wants to give new defensive line coach Karl Dunbar the opportunity to help McCullers play to the best of his capabilities. The Steelers evidently believe Coach Dunbar is the Tree Whisperer.
In summary, Daniel McCullers has one more chance to prove it or lose it. He has had multiple opportunities to prove he belongs on the roster. Hopefully he takes full advantage of it. Many players never even get one chance.