At Last, Something Interesting to Talk About in Pittsburgh

No, not the final demise of the Kaufmann's name, and not the sad and ridiculous t-ball story out of Uniontown.

Hines Ward is going to hold out!

Talk about your mixing of Pittsburgh values:

Hines is, simply put, the second-best player on the roster (Alan "he knocked his helmet off" Faneca is the best, IMO), and he's the most fun to watch. He's got the hands of a wideout and the mind of a linebacker. How many receivers run downfield looking to hit somebody -- when they aren't carrying the ball? He works his butt off day in and day out. There's no complaining, no whining, no "give me the damn ball." Whatever he makes, he's earned, and if he's being short-changed (and it looks like he is), then he deserves a better, fairer salary. There's a lot of Pittsburgh in the phrase, "fair's fair," when it comes to someone who has always been willing to put his whole body into the job.

Ah, but, Hines already has a contract. In a lot of professional sport, that doesn't mean much to teams, players, or fans; we don't object to the renegotiation itself as much as we object, sometimes, to the player's attitude (see "Owens, Terrell") or timing (see "Owens, Terrell"). But in Pittsburgh, we respect the fact that a deal's a deal. Historically, the Rooney family has been a big supporter of that principle, and the good people of Pittsburgh are big supporters of the Rooneys. In the world of contracts outside of sport, that principle is what contracts are all about: you make a deal, and you live with it. Maybe you regret having made what turns out to be a bad deal, but that's tough. When the contract ends, you negotiate a better one. Meanwhile, if you don't live up to your end of the bargain, you lose respect (very important here), you get sued, and/or your lose your job, or worse.

Here's where it gets really interesting: Hines is positioning himself as a regular Pittsburgher. Just a Pittsburgh guy, trying to get paid for his job. Here's the quote (and kudos to the Post-Gazette for playing it up): "I'm not asking to break the bank ... I just want compensated." That's brilliant -- using that syntax. "I just want compensated."

Can Hines pull it off? Can the Rooneys keep Hines happy and save Pittsburgh face? Is Big Ben's sophomore season going to be jinxed with bad karma? Can Skippy find a better nickname? Can Bill and Tunch carry on without Myron? Will the Steelers really throw to the tight end? Training camp starts next week!

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.

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