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View Full Version : Leon Searcy - Why he left the Steelers


BlastFurnace
04-02-2009, 09:33 AM
I found this on another Steeler site. Very interesting what Leon went through and why he left the Steelers. For anyone who doesn't think that Drew Rosenhaus (BMAC's agent) is not a complete dirtbag...read this. It would surprise me if Rosenhaus did the same thing with BMAC.

http://www.procanes.com/

Here are the Steeler-related excerpts. I like being a fan of an organization that makes such a positive lasting impact on players. Also, Rosenhaus is a great agent in terms of getting his players (and thus himself) the most money, but man what a snake...

pC; You went to the Steelers, the Jaguars, Ravens and Dolphins. What was your favorite stop?
LS: My favorite stop was Pittsburgh. I love being a Steeler. Everything about it. The hard-nosed, tough, hardhat, coming to work everyday lunch pail attitude, the Steelers exempted, I loved everything about it. Coach Cowher was an awesome coach, very player friendly. He loved winning, hated losing, tough, hard-nosed. I came in with Cowher, I was his first pick in 1992. Everything about being a Steeler, I enjoy.


pC: Do you follow the NFL now? You follow a team?
LS: I follow the Steelers. I played for a couple of teams but the Steelers seem to be the only ones interested in me after football. They contacted me last year because it was the 75th anniversary of the Steelers franchise and they called me and said that I made the all 90s team and they wanted me to come. They send my son stuff and stay in contact with him. The Jaguars, I have yet to hear from them and they were my most recent team.


pC: Why did you end up going to the Jaguars?
LS: This is a funny story. Iím a free agent just out of the Super Bowl. My agent is Drew Rosenhaus, enough said there. Iím a little profanityfilterprofanityfilterprofanityfilterprofa nityfiltery and Iím in the Bahamas. Iím resting. Drew Rosenhaus calls me and says ĎLeon we have a deal on the table.í I say from the Steelers? And he says Ďno from Jaguars.í And I said the Jaguars? Come on now.

This is why I left Pittsburgh. Drew Rosenhaus got the Steelers on the phone. Drew told me at the time that the money we were asking from Pittsburgh didnít think I deserved it. Youíve got to remember at the time, I am 24, 25, a pro bowler and teams are telling me that I donít deserve [the money]. He said ĎPittsburgh doesnít think you deserve the kind money you are asking for.í They said youíre too young. I said I donít believe you, youíre lying. So Drew got them on the phone, and I am on the phone listening. Drew is ranting and raving and saying Leon is going to leave and theyíre saying we donít care we have someone to replace him. So that was probably the worst thing that could have happened to me.

pC: They didnít know you were on the phone?
LS: No. They didnít. They didnít know I was on the phone and Drew negotiated with them. You donít want to hear negotiations. For one, Iím 25 years old, you donít understand the business. His job is to get as much money as he can and their job is to keep as much and weíre supposed to meet somewhere in the middle. But Drew did not explain that to me. He just explained that they donít want you for the money youíre asking for. So, Iím on the phone and Iím hearing them say Leon is only a starter for us for 3 years and we canít give him that kind of money because Dermontti Dawson is this and he will be a future Hall of Famer. We love the kid but we canít pay him to be the highest offensive lineman. So I am listening to this. I am fuming mad. I said the hell with Pittsburgh. Iíll go somewhere else and prove myself. As soon as we hung up the phone, Drew had the Jaguars right there. He had already staged the whole thing because the Jaguars wanted to make me the highest paid offensive linemen in the NFL at that time. So, Drew said donít worry about them, Iíve got a team that wants to make you the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL and I said whoís that? He said the Jacksonville Jaguars. I said, letís go. I was fuming mad from that point on but I didnít understand the nature of the business. Thatís how the business is. I would advise any guy who is a free agent, that is young to not listen to the negotiations between your agent and the team. They want to strip you down and heís going to build you up and theyíve got to meet somewhere in the middle. You couldnít tell me that, not at the time. The way they were stripping me down. He canít do this, he canít do that, heís got limitations. It was so tempting to just say something on the phone. I was holding it in.

CanadianSteel
04-02-2009, 09:50 AM
Interesting read thanks... seems Searcy has seen the light and realizes the Steelers are a first class organization... unluck that smuck Rosenhaus

scsteeler
04-02-2009, 10:08 AM
I have always felt that agents in most cases not all of them are not that concerned with the players and only the money they can make. Some teams are the same way but hell you can't pay a player what they think they are worth we would have Billion dollar contracts out there that the fans will be paying for to watch the team.

Glad Leon learned that the Steelers wanted him but are tough negotiators also.

El-Gonzo Jackson
04-02-2009, 10:27 AM
Rosenhaus is sleazy to put the player on the phone without the team negotiator knowing. Cant argue that he gets his guys money, but I doubt he is ever asked to guest lecture on business ethics.

Searcy left........the Steelers replaced him with Justin Strelczyk at RT and then drafted Jamain Stevens as a bust. Would have been nice to keep him, but the Steelers made the right decision then.

What I cant figure out is........why do you refuse to pay Leon Searcy top OT dollar, but pay Max Starks the average of the top 5 OT's in the NFL??? :noidea:

steelerdave1969
04-02-2009, 10:33 AM
Different times and different situations is why they didnt resign Searcy and they did resign Starks. I liked Leon Searcy and what he brought to the Steelers for the years he was with the Steelers. Nice read and thanks again for sharing.

fansince'76
04-02-2009, 10:42 AM
What I cant figure out is........why do you refuse to pay Leon Searcy top OT dollar, but pay Max Starks the average of the top 5 OT's in the NFL??? :noidea:

I would think it was because it was during the pre-Heinz Field revenue days when he left (mid-'90s) and we simply couldn't afford to pay him what he was worth, along with the majority of our other FAs at the time who kept walking out of the revolving door on the Steelers' clubhouse.

BlastFurnace
04-02-2009, 10:44 AM
You really can't compare the Starks and Searcy situations. They are completely different...both in the Era they took place in, the GM in charge dealing with it, and the amount of revenue the Steelers were/are generating in comparison to Three Rivers vs. Heinz Field.

SteelMember
04-02-2009, 10:45 AM
What I cant figure out is........why do you refuse to pay Leon Searcy top OT dollar, but pay Max Starks the average of the top 5 OT's in the NFL??? :noidea:

From the last Q/A it looks like they didn't want to pay him more than Dawson at the time. I could understand that.

I guess Starks is the "money man" this year. There isn't really a whole lot of competition for him at this point. :noidea:

fansince'76
04-02-2009, 10:48 AM
From the last Q/A it looks like they didn't want to pay him more than Dawson at the time.

I REAAALLY miss Dawson - especially now. :crying01:

revefsreleets
04-02-2009, 11:01 AM
We used to run one of Searcy's shoes for good luck before every game at JB's Sports Bar in Orlando.

OneForTheToe
04-02-2009, 12:00 PM
Rosenhaus is sleazy to put the player on the phone without the team negotiator knowing. Cant argue that he gets his guys money, but I doubt he is ever asked to guest lecture on business ethics.

Searcy left........the Steelers replaced him with Justin Strelczyk at RT and then drafted Jamain Stevens as a bust. Would have been nice to keep him, but the Steelers made the right decision then.

What I cant figure out is........why do you refuse to pay Leon Searcy top OT dollar, but pay Max Starks the average of the top 5 OT's in the NFL??? :noidea:

If the Steelers had a player of Justin Strzelczyk's potential at tackle they would probably have let Max go. Strelczyk's life and death after he left the burgh is a sad one, but, even though he didn't get much recognition around the league, he was a very good football player. The man could play anywhere on the line.

BTW - here is an old article on his sad life and death after football:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8578-2004Nov23.html

El-Gonzo Jackson
04-02-2009, 12:04 PM
I would think it was because it was during the pre-Heinz Field revenue days when he left (mid-'90s) and we simply couldn't afford to pay him what he was worth, along with the majority of our other FAs at the time who kept walking out of the revolving door on the Steelers' clubhouse.

I think it was because the Steelers had competent replacements in waiting back then. Its entirely possible to make a comparison.

They werent gonna pay top wage to a former 1st round draft pick (Searcy) that went to a pro bowl, but still hadn't earned that with a few years of consistent play. But, now they have paid top wage to a 3rd round guy that is a marginal talent and has a 5 year career of inconsistent play. :banging: All because of low priority picks at OT like Trai Essex, Bo Lacy and Tony Hills.

I know......THOU SHALT NOT QUESTION THE FRONT OFFICE :rulez:

fansince'76
04-02-2009, 12:09 PM
I think it was because the Steelers had competent replacements in waiting back then. Its entirely possible to make a comparison.

Also a good point - our OL personnel across the board then were superior to what we have now. By the same token, I shudder to think what we'd have to shell out to keep a player like Dirt around if he was in his prime right now.

revefsreleets
04-02-2009, 12:27 PM
Ignoring the impact stadium revenues had on signings pre-Heinz ain't right.

OneForTheToe
04-02-2009, 12:40 PM
Ignoring the impact stadium revenues had on signings pre-Heinz ain't right.

Also, the last two TV contracts the NFL negotited with the networks were ridiculous in amount.

El-Gonzo Jackson
04-02-2009, 12:47 PM
I just don't buy the point of view that : Pre 2001, the Steelers could not afford to keep good players because of stadium revenue, but after, they could afford and willingly pay average players $8million a season.

I'd have rather seen them tag Faneca the past 2 seasons than tag Starks.

fansince'76
04-02-2009, 12:54 PM
I just don't buy the point of view that : Pre 2001, the Steelers could not afford to keep good players because of stadium revenue, but after, they could afford and willingly pay average players $8million a season.

I'd have rather seen them tag Faneca the past 2 seasons than tag Starks.

From an article dated Feb 18, 1997:

Bettis, the league's No. 3 rusher last season with 1,431 yards, is the first starter to re-sign with the Steelers in the five years of free agency. Until yesterday, they had lost 20 of 22 free agents, re-signing only the backups Fred McAfee and Jerry Olsavsky.

Link (http://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/18/sports/steelers-keep-the-free-agent-bettis.html?n=Top%2FReference%2FTimes%20Topics%2FP eople%2FB%2FBettis%2C%20Jerome)

When have we had that kind of player exodus recently? We got absolutely MURDERED in the first 7-8 years of FA until Heinz was built. I can almost guarantee you that we wouldn't have been able to keep Ben or Troy past their rookie contracts if they had come along about 10 years earlier than they did.

SteelMember
04-02-2009, 12:58 PM
I just don't buy the point of view that : Pre 2001, the Steelers could not afford to keep good players because of stadium revenue, but after, they could afford and willingly pay average players $8million a season.

I'd have rather seen them tag Faneca the past 2 seasons than tag Starks.

They could have tagged Faneca if they thought he wasn't going to be a real pain in the ass about it, so I think they just cut the cord knowing he wasn't going to be content.

I still contend that they didn't what to pay Searcy more than what they were paying Dawson. Searcy was very good, but Dawson was already established and had tenure. Imo, just like any business, you reward service to the company and try not to breed contempt between employees. They know how much everybody is making.



When have we had that kind of player exodus recently? We got absolutely MURDERED in the first 7-8 years of FA until Heinz was built. I can almost guarantee you that we wouldn't have been able to keep Ben or Troy past their rookie contracts if they had come along about 10 years earlier than they did.

Very True, and truthfully I was very suprised by what they got. We're not used to seeing those kinds of numbers in Pitt...players or fans.

fansince'76
04-02-2009, 01:19 PM
Very True, and truthfully I was very suprised by what they got. We're not used to seeing those kinds of numbers in Pitt...players or fans.

Exactly. The FA exodus of the '90s in large part is what started the "Rooneys are cheap" BS to begin with.

El-Gonzo Jackson
04-02-2009, 01:20 PM
From an article dated Feb 18, 1997:



Link (http://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/18/sports/steelers-keep-the-free-agent-bettis.html?n=Top%2FReference%2FTimes%20Topics%2FP eople%2FB%2FBettis%2C%20Jerome)

When have we had that kind of player exodus recently? We got absolutely MURDERED in the first 7-8 years of FA until Heinz was built. I can almost guarantee you that we wouldn't have been able to keep Ben or Troy past their rookie contracts if they had come along about 10 years earlier than they did.

That is all true. I am not debating the impact of Heinz Field an the ability to keep players. Searcy left for a 5 year $17million deal in 1996, then they paid Bettis 4 year $14.4million the following year and I dont know what they paid Dawson. They didnt need to pay Searcy, because they had Strelczyk.

My contention is that the Steelers rarely overpay what somebody is worth in the marketplace, regardless of era, and normally let those players walk because they have pre-planned for their succession. I just wish they would have been consistent and planned ahead so they didnt have to pay Starks $7 and $8million in successive years.

fansince'76
04-02-2009, 01:22 PM
That is all true. I am not debating the impact of Heinz Field an the ability to keep players. Searcy left for a 5 year $17million deal in 1996, then they paid Bettis 4 year $14.4million the following year and I dont know what they paid Dawson. They didnt need to pay Searcy, because they had Strelczyk.

My contention is that the Steelers rarely overpay what somebody is worth in the marketplace, regardless of era, and normally let those players walk because they have pre-planned for their succession. I just wish they would have been consistent and planned ahead so they didnt have to pay Starks $7 and $8million in successive years.

Ah, OK - I misinterpreted what you said earlier. And I completely agree. :drink:

steelreserve
04-02-2009, 01:25 PM
From an article dated Feb 18, 1997:


Bettis, the league's No. 3 rusher last season with 1,431 yards, is the first starter to re-sign with the Steelers in the five years of free agency. Until yesterday, they had lost 20 of 22 free agents, re-signing only the backups Fred McAfee and Jerry Olsavsky.

When have we had that kind of player exodus recently? We got absolutely MURDERED in the first 7-8 years of FA until Heinz was built. I can almost guarantee you that we wouldn't have been able to keep Ben or Troy past their rookie contracts if they had come along about 10 years earlier than they did.


Uhh ... free agency started in 1993. A hard salary cap and salary floor started in 1994. Revenue sharing guarantees that each team's operating income is going to be greater than the amount of the salary cap; it's built in.

The idea that lower franchise revenue somehow affected how much money a team could spend on player salaries was, by definition, impossible under the league rules. Same goes for this mythical notion that the Steelers "just don't have enough money" to compete with other teams. The rules have made that a non-issue essentially right from the start of free agency.

The guys we lost to free agency, we lost because we didn't have room under the salary cap -- period. That goes for any Steelers free agent ever.

KeiselPower99
04-02-2009, 01:27 PM
Wow

fansince'76
04-02-2009, 01:36 PM
Uhh ... free agency started in 1993. A hard salary cap and salary floor started in 1994. Revenue sharing guarantees that each team's operating income is going to be greater than the amount of the salary cap; it's built in.

The idea that lower franchise revenue somehow affected how much money a team could spend on player salaries was, by definition, impossible under the league rules. Same goes for this mythical notion that the Steelers "just don't have enough money" to compete with other teams. The rules have made that a non-issue essentially right from the start of free agency.

The guys we lost to free agency, we lost because we didn't have room under the salary cap -- period. That goes for any Steelers free agent ever.

Sure, stadium revenue has no bearing on anything. OK.

Despite sellout crowds since the early 1970s, the Steelers' stadium revenue in 1995 was $1.3 million -- seventh-lowest in the league and longer than a Terry Brandshaw pass from the Dallas Cowboys' league-leading $43.6 million.

Today, the Steelers' gate receipts of $38 million are higher than the Cowboys' $30 million, according to Forbes. The Cowboys are valued at $923 million, second in the league, but that's because the Cowboys play in a larger market and generate total annual revenue of $205 million, compared with the Steelers' $159 million.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_295960.html

October 4, 1998

But the Steelers also are the kind of organization that has not been able to keep all the people it would like, particularly on the field. Because this is still a small-market franchise, a family-owned operation without the financial resources of so many other teams in the league, the Steelers have not been willing to engage in salary cap wars by dangling huge signing bonuses to keep some of their biggest stars.

http://articles.latimes.com/1998/oct/04/sports/sp-29292

Yeah, there's absolutely no correlation between the difference in stadium revenues and the ability and willingness of the Rooneys to ink the likes of Ben to $100 million contracts.

steelreserve
04-02-2009, 02:04 PM
Sure, stadium revenue has no bearing on anything. OK.



http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_295960.html



http://articles.latimes.com/1998/oct/04/sports/sp-29292

Yeah, there's absolutely no correlation between the difference in stadium revenues and the ability and willingness of the Rooneys to ink the likes of Ben to $100 million contracts.

I really don't think there is. The league rules give you a salary cap, along with a salary floor that I believe is 86% of the salary cap and always has been.You just DON'T have much flexibility on payroll, no matter whether you're a billionaire or broke, whether you have a new stadium or an old stadium, or whether you're worried about money or not. YOU HAVE TO SPEND THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY NO MATTER WHAT. The only thing where any human judgment calls come into play is which philosophy you use to distribute the fixed payroll among your 53 players.

I mean, just look at the second article you quoted:

"Because this is still a small-market franchise, a family-owned operation without the financial resources of so many other teams in the league, the Steelers have not been willing to engage in salary cap wars by dangling huge signing bonuses to keep some of their biggest stars."

That writer is an idiot. He uses "small market" and "salary cap" in the same sentence as excuses for why the Steelers can't keep free agents. It's like ... which one is it, big guy? The two ideas are about as opposite as it's possible to be, so it can't be both.

Now, don't get confused and think I'm saying a new stadium didn't make any difference to the team -- it made a huge difference. Just not in the area of signing players.

Your numbers about revenue disparity from the '70s are correct -- but they don't matter, because it was the '70s and there was no free agency, so we could keep the team intact anyway. Likewise, if there was no salary cap at all for an extended period of time, the rich-poor factor could come into play. But with a salary cap and a salary floor, that difference is legislated out of existence. So I'm going to have to keep disagreeing with you on that one.

fansince'76
04-02-2009, 02:36 PM
I really don't think there is. The league rules give you a salary cap, along with a salary floor that I believe is 86% of the salary cap and always has been.You just DON'T have much flexibility on payroll, no matter whether you're a billionaire or broke, whether you have a new stadium or an old stadium, or whether you're worried about money or not. YOU HAVE TO SPEND THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY NO MATTER WHAT. The only thing where any human judgment calls come into play is which philosophy you use to distribute the fixed payroll among your 53 players.

I mean, just look at the second article you quoted:

"Because this is still a small-market franchise, a family-owned operation without the financial resources of so many other teams in the league, the Steelers have not been willing to engage in salary cap wars by dangling huge signing bonuses to keep some of their biggest stars."

That writer is an idiot. He uses "small market" and "salary cap" in the same sentence as excuses for why the Steelers can't keep free agents. It's like ... which one is it, big guy? The two ideas are about as opposite as it's possible to be, so it can't be both.

Now, don't get confused and think I'm saying a new stadium didn't make any difference to the team -- it made a huge difference. Just not in the area of signing players.

Your numbers about revenue disparity from the '70s are correct -- but they don't matter, because it was the '70s and there was no free agency, so we could keep the team intact anyway. Likewise, if there was no salary cap at all for an extended period of time, the rich-poor factor could come into play. But with a salary cap and a salary floor, that difference is legislated out of existence. So I'm going to have to keep disagreeing with you on that one.

Sorry, I didn't mean to come off like a smartass in my previous post. Of course, I'm sure the Steelers got more "savvy" over time in managing the cap too. I think there is a confluence of factors as to why we are able to retain more of our "own" now as opposed to the early years of FA. The Niners were way more successful at signing players in the early years of FA, but they paid the price as time went on in the form of a ton of dead money on their books for years. The Steelers "paid" for it immediately by losing players, but were in good shape later down the road as far as the cap was concerned. :drink:

steelreserve
04-02-2009, 03:43 PM
Sorry, I didn't mean to come off like a smartass in my previous post. Of course, I'm sure the Steelers got more "savvy" over time in managing the cap too. I think there is a confluence of factors as to why we are able to retain more of our "own" now as opposed to the early years of FA. The Niners were way more successful at signing players in the early years of FA, but they paid the price as time went on in the form of a ton of dead money on their books for years. The Steelers "paid" for it immediately by losing players, but were in good shape later down the road as far as the cap was concerned. :drink:

Hey, no hard feelings ... and on part of this, at least, I think we're on the same page ... it's pretty well documented that the Niners were using a strategy that became unsustainable once they ironed out some of the loopholes in the cap ... constant restructuring, signing 37-year-old guys to 10-year contracts so they could spread the bonus out over a decade, things like that. During the collapse, I remember them consistently having $20-$30 million in dead money, and this is when the cap was maybe $60 or $70 million.

Honestly, I think that OTHER teams' being unfamiliar with the salary cap probably had quite a bit to do with us losing players in the early years of FA. Before there were examples of what could go wrong (like the 49ers) certain teams were probably a lot less cautious.

The other factor might be that over the past 6-7 years, we've actually had more high-profile players worth re-signing. No offense to the 1995 Super Bowl team, but with the exception of Woodson and later Bettis, we didn't have anyone in that entire decade who was absolutely essential to keep around with a blockbuster contract. No superstar QB, just the one superstar RB, revolving-door wide receivers ... even guys like Lloyd, Greene, Lake and Woodson were all 32, 33, 34 years old when they were let go, which is an important distinction that it sometimes seems like we forget. And of course, everyone knows that when we've let high-profile players walk away, it's usually for a good reason. That's been true since the very start of FA too.

Throw in the fact that the salary cap has quadrupled since the '90s, and it probably looks like we sign a lot more big-money deals today because ... well, we do. Since the sport in general became a runaway success, there's just been more money involved overall thanks to the percentages they're fighting over in the CBA.

devilsdancefloor
04-02-2009, 06:54 PM
Wow i hope he drops a big brick on his toe! What a dirt bag, but i am guess alto of them do it to get their clients pumped up.