First and foremost, I have to get this out of the way: I’m speaking to some fans. The keyword is some. Not all.
There are some fans in Steelers’ Nation who feel people need to take sides when it comes to the Steelers quarterback situation. You like one, or you like another. I just don’t get this line of thinking.
I made no secret that I was excited about the Steelers drafting Mason Rudolph, especially when they didn’t have to use a selection until the third round. I thought he showed a lot of potential and was a good fit in Pittsburgh. And even though I was completely bummed to lose Ben Roethlisberger for the 2019 season, part of me searched for hope in the excitement to see what Rudolph could do. Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed with how everything played out.
But in cheering for the Steelers quarterback, I ended up being labeled a “hater.” On two ends of the spectrum, mind you. First, I was accused of being a Ben Roethlisberger hater because I wanted to see Mason Rudolph succeed. Forget the fact that I wanted to see the Steelers actually do well in 2019, support for any quarterback other than Rothlisberger was labeled as hate by some.
The other end of the spectrum was being labeled a “Duck hater.” This label came even from some of our own at BTSC. Because I wanted to see Rudolph succeed and didn’t instantly want him replaced after half of the game against the Seahawks, I was accused of completely hating Devlin Hodges. Or at least that was the case in the minds of some.
Newsflash: I want to see EVERY Steelers’ quarterback succeed.
My question is this: What Steeler fan wouldn’t want to see their quarterback succeed?
There was an awful lot of hate going towards Mason Rudolph in his time as the Steelers’ starter. Did he have shortcomings? Absolutely. Was he playing terrible before the concussion? No. He was progressing. Possibly not as much as he should have been, but there still was progress going on. He was 1-1 as a starter going into the game against the Ravens. But once Hodges got his start in Los Angeles, there were some on various message boards and comment sections that felt any support for Rudolph was hate toward Duck. And this is simply not the case.
People need to remember Mason Rudolph was the quarterback for the Steelers when they ran off three wins at home against the Dolphins, Colts, and Rams. Did the Steelers win those games in spite of him instead of led by him? An argument could be made. But he still quarterbacked them to three straight wins coming off the bye.
But after a terrible performance against the Browns on a short week, some people were screaming for Duck. The time was not right yet. The entire Steelers’ team needed to show how they could respond to the rough game in Cleveland. But after a lackluster performance the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals, the time was right to make the move.
Up until the move was made (which was a move I called for at the time, mind you), pointing out any concerns with Devlin Hodges was labeled as “Duck hate.” Simply pointing out why the Steelers could be apprehensive about handing over the reigns to Hodges (not being drafted, not signed immediately following the draft, not having a team Week 1, etc.) was strictly hate, regardless of these facts. Classifying my feelings about Hodges going into Week 13 as “cautiously optimistic” was mislabeled as being anti-Duck rather than a concern over a young, unproven quarterback. It didn’t matter that I used the same verbiage to describe Rudolph’s first start as well as picking the Steelers to lose to the 49ers. I find it odd that I wasn’t labeled a “Rudolph hater” then.
I still don’t understand why some fans feel that people must chose a side. This should not a situation like the debates on internet message boards between “Twi-Hards” years ago where they were either “Team Edward or “Team Jacob” with no middle ground. This isn’t an all-or-nothing situation because because only one of them can get the girl. (Author’s note: the only reason I have any idea about this argument is thanks to my wife.) This is the Pittsburgh Steelers, and it’s a good thing to want to see any quarterback succeed.
Do I want to see Mason Rudolph succeed with the Steelers? Yes. Do I want to see this in 2019? Absolutely not! Because if Rudolph steps on the field again for the Steelers, it’s because Hodges is either injured or ineffective. And I don’t want to see a Steelers quarterback fail. Ever.
So why do so many of the Duck Hodges fan club feel the need to ridicule those who supported Rudolph? Is it because they are preoccupied with being right? Is it they can’t get over their own hate of another Steelers quarterback they can’t understand that other fans don’t have that hate within them towards anyone? I honestly need help in figuring this out.
As I mentioned in a comment to someone who tried to label me a “Duck hater” this week, I don’t understand why someone is cheering solely for the name on the back of the jersey. Isn’t it better, as a fan, to cheer for the name on the logo on the side of the helmet? Isn’t that the ultimate goal? I don’t care who’s taking the snaps for the Steelers. I’m behind them all the way!
Ben Roethlisberger is still my favorite Steelers’ quarterback. I want to see Mason Rudolph progress to a quality quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I really want to see Devlin Hodges lead the Steelers to the playoffs and beyond! These three statements are not mutually exclusive. They should be the statements of every Steelers’ fan who truly loves their team.
Let’s ALL get behind Hodges and cheer this team to playoffs!