This is an offbeat item but one that holds quirky significance with me.
Instead of forcing rookies to pay thousands to take veterans to dinner, as the odd NFL custom goes, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert took five undrafted rookie linemen to dinner, according to Pouncey's instagram account.
Pictured with Pouncey and Gilbert are Utah State tackle Kevin Whimpey, Auburn center Reese Dismukes, Kansas State center BJ Finney, Penn State guard Miles Dieffenbach and Indiana guard Collin Rahrig. All five were signed shortly after the draft in early May.
Undrafted free agents often get signing bonuses that fall short of this dinner bill. The perks are limited, the guarantees scarce, the promises non-existent.
They aren't NFL players, at least not yet.
That's why this gesture from the two veterans deserves a hat tip. Locker rooms don't overlook this stuff. They notice. As well documented in storytelling such as ESPN's 30 for 30 'Broke,' young players often struggle with finances. No doubt they appreciated a good meal, especially from a Pro Bowler such as Pouncey and a solid starting tackle such as Gilbert.
Pouncey and Gilbert just signed new deals that paid more than $20 million in signing bonus money and will pay another $40-plus million over the next four years if they complete the deals. Those numbers aren't prerequisites for picking up tabs, but it's safe to assume these players recognize they are fortunate.
And with five of the Steelers' 12 undrafted free agents playing on the line, at least one of these players could make the 53-man roster.