PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) — I like Ike.
I really do.
To me, cornerback Ike Taylor has been one of the most under-appreciated Steelers of recent vintage; a guy who gets noticed too often when he doesn’t make a play and gets ignored too much for the plays he makes.
Ike is like the air conditioner or you dishwasher in your home — the thing can be more-than-reliable for over a decade and you really pay no mind when it is doing the job, but when there is a breakdown or misstep, you are forced to pay attention.
To me, that’s largely been Ike Taylor over his 11-year career with the Steelers. A reliable, steadfast athlete on that edge who is underappreciated comparative to the cornerback struggles some other franchises in the NFL have gone through.
On Monday afternoon, however, the mic was pushed to Ike and, from this view, he fumbled it mightily.
It was back in March when Taylor, nearing the undeniable end to his career, agreed to a pay cut with the Steelers that would drop his salary from $7 million in 2014 to $2.75 million. It was a move that helped the Steelers comply with the salary cap and also elongated — at least for a year — the career of the 34-year-old Taylor who could have just as easily been cut by the organization.
When Taylor appeared on The Jim Rome Show on CBS Radio on Monday, I fully expected him to speak glowingly about the Steelers organization.
After all, Taylor has frequently expressed his gratitude for the Rooney family and the opportunities the Steelers have given him.
But what did Taylor say about a pay cut that he willingly agreed to?
“I’m pissed off about it, still am pissed off about it and I’m going to be pissed off until the end of the season about it,” Taylor said. “Did it hurt me? Hell yeah. Does it still hurt? Yeah, it hurts, but hopefully I can go in and bounce back this year, do what I need to do on the field and we will see what happens after.”
First, to fully absorb his words, let’s take a look at what Ike Taylor has done before all this. Taylor is coming off a 2013 season that was one of the worst in his career. He started all 16 games and, for the first time in his career since his 2003 rookie season, failed to register an interception.
Time and again in 2013, Taylor looked a tad out-of-sorts and not himself, as if his age was starting to show.
Again, even as the Steelers would have been well within their rights to jettison Taylor and get rid of what would have been the final year of contract worth $7 million, they instead threw him a lifeline and offered a one-year deal at a reduced rate.
And what do the Steelers — and the Rooneys — get in return for bringing him back?
They get these words on The Jim Rome Show …
“It’s like you get to a point, why me? Like, I didn’t show my loyalty? I’ve been a good guy,” Taylor said. “You want to talk about a guy who’s going to come in in-shape, not waiting to build up into shape when he gets to camp. Or you want to talk about a guy who’s unselfish and puts his team before his family and friends, you want to talk about a guy who has loyalty, yeah it’s me. It’s me you’re talking about. When you come to me and ask me for a pay cut, I’m like ‘Damn, out of all these people, you want to ask Ike.'”
Yeah, the Steelers did.
They asked Ike if he wanted to take a pay cut and he accepted.
He accepted it willingly.
The other option was getting released and trying to catch on somewhere else. Ask James Harrison how much fun that is, Ike.
Instead of bellyaching about a pay cut on the radio, Ike Taylor should be grateful the Steelers elected to bring him back; playing the victim here is a bad look for Ike.