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The Pouncey Twins Were Loyal To All The Wrong People

Steelers lineman Maurkice Pouncey, and Dolphins lineman Mike Pouncey
Photo: Joe Sargent/Getty Images; Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

NFL centers and twin brothers Maurkice and Mike Pouncey simultaneously announced their retirements on Friday. Good riddance.

The announcement came courtesy of Maurkice’s former NFL teammate Ramon Foster, a goon in his own right:

Maurkice and Mike both played college ball on the offensive line at the University of Florida, during the Urban Meyer era. They were teammates with future NFL players Tim Tebow, Riley Cooper, Jordan Reed, and Aaron Hernandez. That last guy, a longtime friend of the Pounceys, did some other stuff outside of football that you might remember. Both Pounceys donned “Free Hernandez” caps a month after their college pal was charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd. Maurkice later apologized; Mike avoided any acknowledgement of it.

The twins were drafted one year apart. The Pittsburgh Steelers picked Maurkice in 2010; the Miami Dolphins took Mike in 2011. Both were Pro Bowl centers, though Maurkice was the better player. They were equally talented at undermining and bullying, however.

Maurkice couldn’t control the fact that Ben Roethlisberger was his quarterback, but he could control how he treated his other teammates. Maurkice, alongside Foster, was one of the Steelers’ players’ union reps when they decided to publicly call out running back Le’Veon Bell for holding out when the team tried to slap him with a second franchise tag. When in 2017 longtime Steelers linebacker James Harrison asked the team to cut him so he could find a team that’d give him playing time, Maurkice claimed Harrison had “erased his own legacy.”

In September of 2020, most of the Steelers planned for their helmets to sport the name of Antwon Rose, a 17-year-old fatally by East Pittsburgh police in 2018. Maurkice declined to participate because he said he had “limited information” around the circumstances of Rose’s death. Rose was unarmed and shot three times in the side of his face, elbow, and back while running away; the officer was charged but found not guilty on all counts.

Maurkice’s support of Donald Trump is just a bonus reason to be glad he’s gone. As for Mike, who last played for the Los Angeles Chargers, he was most notable for his involvement in the Dolphins’ bullying scandal in 2013. The Wells Report named him, along with offensive linemen Richie Incognito and John Jerry, as players who made sexually explicit comments to teammate Jonathan Martin about his sister. Incognito, Jerry, and Pouncey all said they made racist jokes about the team’s assistant trainer, who was Asian-American. From the Wells Report:

On December 7, 2012 (the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor), Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey donned traditional Japanese headbands that featured a rising sun emblem and jokingly threatened to harm the Assistant Trainer physically in retaliation for the Pearl Harbor attack. Martin reported that the Assistant Trainer confided to him that he was upset about the Pearl Harbor prank, finding it derogatory and demeaning.

In May of 2014, when asked about his behavior, Mike said he had no regrets about what happened. Sounds about right. Reprehensibility without responsibility was the running theme of the Pounceys’ NFL careers.