Leave it to Ben Roethlisberger to ignite a Pittsburgh Steelers offseason. Until Roethlisberger made his controversial comments regarding the organization drafting Mason Rudolph in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft it had been a quiet offseason in the Steel City.
Everyone, and their brother, is chiming in on the comments, taking sides, and giving their own opinion on whether Roethlisberger was in the right, or wrong, with his latest remarks on his radio show.
Wherever you stand on the situation, it should be noted Roethlisberger was once on the other side of the proverbial coin when he was drafted 11th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft. Coming off a 6-10 season, the Steelers would draft early in the next year’s draft, and Tommy Maddox was viewed as “the guy” for the foreseeable future. In fact, when Maddox left the facility before the draft he was told the team would be targeting an offensive lineman.
Boy was that a lie.
Were you surprised when the Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger in 2004? How frustrating was it for you to lose your job that season due to injury?
I would be lying if I said that it didn’t surprise me. When I left the facility that Friday they told me they were probably going to draft an offensive linemen. It was tough for me, but I think that it would be hard to say that they didn’t make the right choice. It is always hard to lose your job to an injury, but lets face it, it was only a matter of time. Ben has had a great career and I still root for him and the Steelers every week.
Now, to be clear, Maddox was never viewed as a future Hall of Fame quarterback, like Roethlisberger is now. This isn’t to compare the two quarterbacks, but the emotion they are feeling when the team makes a draft pick who is being viewed as “the future”. In this aspect, the two certainly are comparable.
In a recent article by Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Bouchette spoke to Maddox’s agent after the team drafted Roethlisberger in 2004:
Agent Vann McElroy described Maddox’s reaction to the pick as ranging from anger to betrayal to emotional. He said Maddox was promised the Steelers would draft a tackle first. He said Maddox was so upset he would fly from Dallas the next day to discuss the situation with Bill Cowher and the Rooneys, and Maddox did just that.
“I think there’s always, in this business, emotion,” Maddox said after the meeting, adding that his agent overreacted.
Either way you look at it, the fact remains the situation consists of a player who is entrenched as the starter, and the thought of the organization moving on without them can be unsettling. No one, at least in their right mind, is suggesting Rudolph should come in and start over Roethlisberger on Day 1, but at the end of the day you are talking about a legend being forced to deal with the looming mortality of their career.
Andrew Brandt of NFL Network summed it up perfectly:
Understand what Ben Roethlisberger is feeling; sure it went on with Brady and Garoppolo, many other places. Saw it with Favre. Superstars are human; no one truly likes working with their replacement every day, reminding them of their career mortality.— Andrew Brandt (@AndrewBrandt) May 7, 2018
While fans might be a little disturbed, or frustrated, with Roethlisberger’s comments, when looking at the past, as well as what took place when he came into the league, these types of situations seem to be more of the normal variety, compared to the abnormal.
My guess is when Rudolph and Roethlisberger get into offseason workouts and training camp they will be just fine. They might not be best friends, but the two will strike a balance which will be healthy for both players, and more importantly — the team.