Here’s how nicknames (and reputations) stick:

When your own coach gives you a backhanded compliment that comes to define your first four years in the league.

Mike Wallace is fast. Like 4.3 fast. He blows past corners as if they’re running in wet sand.

But Mike Tomlin, his coach in Pittsburgh, noticed right away that Wallace didn’t have a great change-up. He was all heater.

Which is why Tomlin, perhaps joking, perhaps not, infamously called Wallace a “one-trick pony.”

Even if that’s still true – and many would argue it is not – that one trick would be better for the speed-deficient Miami Dolphins than anything David Blaine could fathom.

“He has that ‘Oh [bleep]’ speed, the kind of speed that can take the top off a defense,” said David Todd, who hosts the drive-time show on Pittsburgh’s 970 ESPN Radio, the Steelers’ flagship station. “Defenses have to roll to him and respect him every play.”

The Dolphins are aware. It’s the reason they’ll likely be serious contenders in the Mike Wallace Derby if the wide receiver hits free agency next Tuesday, as expected. The Steelers decided not to place the franchise tag on Wallace before Monday’s deadline, meaning that unless he signs a final-hour extension with Pittsburgh, he’ll be available to the highest bidder.

The Dolphins, with nearly $40 million in salary cap space, are well-positioned to be that team. But they’ll also have competition. The Browns and Bengals are similarly resource-rich, and are expected to also make a play for Wallace. The San Francisco 49ers could too, particularly after letting Randy Moss walk.

“I think [the Dolphins] should get him,” said former Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder, now a co-host on WQAM-560. “If you can’t find talent [in the draft], then you have to go get it.”

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