Mike Wallace Can't Bring Himself To Hate Steelers


There's no point in hiding it.

There's still a little gold and black running through Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace's veins.

While Wallace said there was "a lot of hate" for the Ravens when he was in Pittsburgh from 2009-2012, he's still learning how to dislike his former team as he prepares to play them for the first time now on the other side of the heated rivalry.

"I don't know if I could ever just hate them because of all of the stuff I've been through in that organization," Wallace said Wednesday. "It's kind of hard for me to just sit up here and tell you I hate them, because I really don't."

Wallace still FaceTime's Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown just about every Monday. Wallace even talked a little reverse smack Wednesday afternoon, reminiscing about all the yards he used to put up against the Ravens and saying the Steelers were the better team back when he was suiting up for Pittsburgh (2009-2012).

He unfortunately said that within earshot of linebacker Terrell Suggs.

"Woah! Woah!" Suggs said.

"My bad, 'Sizz.' I didn't know you were right there,'" Wallace said with a laugh. "We're on the same side now. I'm wearing the purple, baby. Ravens!"

Don't mistake Wallace's lukewarm feelings for his former home as a potential weakness come Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. He knows how big the game is for the Ravens.

"I'm definitely on this side to win," Wallace said. "It doesn't matter, when we line up Sunday none of those guys are going to be my friends. … We're out to kill them. We're out to win the division. I'm definitely trying to do everything I can to do my part to bring the win back this way."

Wallace was drafted by the Steelers in the third round in 2009. It's where he made a name for himself.

He posted 1,257 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in his second season as a Steeler. He followed it up with 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011, earning a trip to his first and only Pro Bowl.

But things went sour for Wallace after he left Pittsburgh in free agency in 2013. He had some of the toughest seasons of his career the past three years, bouncing between the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings. The Dolphins traded him and the Vikings cut him.

Now in Baltimore, Wallace's career has new life again, though it's back in the same rivalry.

"It feels good just to be back in the rivalry," Wallace said.

Wallace said it will be a little "weird, but fun" to be on the Ravens' side. He said he's heard the same things this week from Suggs that he would hear in Pittsburgh, talk about the importance of this game and rivalry.

When Wallace came to Baltimore this offseason, he admitted to it being a little weird at first. He had to squash some lingering beef with safety Lardarius Webb, who Wallace said was his chosen enemy when he first entered the rivalry (they were in the same draft class, in the same round). Wallace recalls Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin telling him that he had to pick a Raven to hate.

But as the year has gone on and, in part because he has played well, Wallace has fit in perfectly with the Ravens. After struggling with the Dolphins and Vikings, he has found his first home since leaving Pittsburgh.

Wallace has caught 35 passes for 490 yards and three touchdowns so far this year. He leads the Ravens in receiving yards and touchdowns. Through seven games, he's already surpassed the receiving yards (473) and touchdown (two) totals he posted in Minnesota last season.

Wallace is coming off a monster game against the New York Jets in which he caught 10 passes for 120 yards, including a 53-yard catch and run. He had a 70-yard catch the week before against the New York Giants.

"I think Mike's playing really well - great attitude [and] work ethic," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He loves football, loves coming to work every day, loves competing on Sunday."

Wallace has found success in Baltimore by doing more. He's not just a “one-trick pony,” which Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin called him early in his career. Wallace is running more routes, attacking underneath coverage more.

"I think I'm just getting used differently here than I have been in the past," Wallace said. "I always had routes; you just have to look at it. I've been hot sauce."

On Wednesday, Tomlin said Wallace is still the same player he was in Pittsburgh four years ago. And he made sure to get in a little teasing at the same time. After all, it is Ravens-Steelers Week, and now Wallace is fair game.

"Burnell is Burnell. You can tell him I said that – that is his government name. He likes to keep that a secret," Tomlin said with a laugh.

"Burnell is still running by folks and running up the scoreboard. We have a great deal of respect for what he is capable of. More important than that, we are proud of his success and what he has been able to do in his career. We take a great deal of pride that it started here for him."

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