View Full Version : Cook: Steelers' Woodley puts aside contract situation

02-04-2011, 06:25 AM
Cook: Steelers' Woodley puts aside contract situation
Friday, February 04, 2011
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Linebacker LaMarr Woodley will play for the Steelers next season and for many years to come. He's a special player. The Rooneys always find a way to keep their special players.

You are welcome.

I know that makes you feel better this morning.

There has been much speculation all season that Woodley will leave as a free agent after Super Bowl XLV. I just don't see it happening.

"When I get somewhere, I like to stay," Woodley said this week. "The Steelers drafted me [in the second round in 2007]. They wanted me. The other teams didn't draft me. They didn't want me."
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The Steelers still want Woodley. They'll get him his money. Heck, they would have gotten it for him in the summer if not for the fine print in the expiring basic agreement between the players and the owners and the uncertainty surrounding a new agreement that's still being negotiated for the '11 season and beyond.

Woodley played this season for $550,000 in the final year of his original four-year contract. That's an absurdly low figure for a player of his stature, one who had 10 sacks this season on top of 13 1/2 last season and 11 1/2 the season before that. Remember, we're talking about professional football here, not the real world in which most of us live. I feel safe in saying Woodley was the best bargain in the NFL this season.

That's where Woodley's story really gets refreshing. You often read about athletes who allow their greed to consume them and, in many cases, harm their team. Woodley wanted no part of any of that. He made it clear right before training camp that he wasn't pleased with his salary, then didn't mention it again. He just went out and played terrific football.

"I feel great about it because I wasn't a distraction," Woodley said. "If I spent time talking about my contract or worrying about it, I wouldn't be focused on the games. That would be selfish, and I'm not a selfish person. I know all of this is bigger than me. A lot of guys on this team count on me. I'm not going to let them down."

How do you not respect a player with that attitude?

Woodley said something else this week that was fabulous. It was so good I played the tape over and over to make sure he really said it.

"You never hear anyone talk about the guys who made the most money. You hear them talking about who won the most Super Bowls. A lot of people who just chase the money end up miserable because they don't win football games. I don't want that to be me. I like winning more than anything."

If the Steelers beat the Green Bay Packers Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium, it will be two rings for Woodley. He and outside linebacker James Harrison, who had 10 1/2 sacks this season and then three more in the playoff victory against the Baltimore Ravens, figure to be huge if the Steelers are successful. They have to get pressure on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has been spectacular in the postseason. "As hot as fish grease," Steelers linebacker James Farrior described him.

Here's a tip:

Don't be surprised if Woodley has a big game in the big game. He had a sack in each of the playoff victories against the Ravens and New York Jets to stretch his NFL record to six consecutive postseason games with at least one sack. He has a staggering 10 sacks in those six games. "Now they're saying I only show up in the postseason," Woodley said, grinning. "That ain't a bad time to show up, though, is it?"

It was a Woodley sack that finished off the Arizona Cardinals in the Steelers' 27-23 victory in Super Bowl XLIII. He forced quarterback Kurt Warner to fumble in the final seconds with teammate Brett Keisel recovering the ball. What a great memory that is for Woodley.

Well, it's mostly great, anyway.

"I made a mistake after that game," Woodley said. "Keisel asked me if I wanted the ball. I told him no, that he could keep it. Then I changed my mind a few months later and asked him for it. He told me no. He still has it and said he isn't giving it up ...

"I guess I have to get a ball for myself in this game."

You should have seen Woodley smile.

It made me wonder:

Would the man rather have a Super Bowl game ball or a filthy rich new contract?

Believe me, I'm not naive enough to think the answer would be the game ball. But it surely wouldn't be a slam-dunk decision.
Ron Cook: rcook@post-gazette.com. Ron Cook can be heard on the "Vinnie and Cook" show weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11035/1122834-66.stm#ixzz1CzaSXjUC

02-04-2011, 09:37 AM
Loving this guy's attitude. In the words of Deion Sanders.. PAY THE MAN!