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How Mason Rudolph won Pittsburgh Steelers voluntary OTAs

There’s a new BMOC at the UPMC.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers OTA
Steel City Fonzie Mase Rudolph
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

According to legend, Robert Johnson was a sloppy bluesman who disappeared from the scene, only to suddenly return one day with skills that are still talked about 90 years later. True believers say Robert’s transformation was due to a deal with the devil at the crossroads. Now Steelers Nation has to ask if a new deal has been made at the confluence, because we may be witnessing the biggest transformation this side of Cybertron.

Don’t look now, but Mason Rudolph just won voluntary OTAs. Let’s see how it happened.


The Work

From the moment Mase first hit the field, he was already exceeding the expectations of his biggest doubters. Corners of Steeler Nation publicly hoped he would only be there to carry Kenny Pickett’s (tiny) gloves. To their chagrin, not only is Mason in the mix, he’s second in line, right behind TruPittsky. Sure, some will try to say that we can’t determine anything from these five yard tosses to running backs in May. But I see a quarterback executing an integral part of the Canada offense, something of which Mason has experience. Just think of the advantage Mase will have in the upcoming -5 yard pass drills.


The Style

Real Ones know how to use style to stand out from the crowd and make a statement even in the most everyday environment. For Mase, the name of the game is headwear. Fans should already know the connection between Mason and his hat. So the scene at OTAs was no accident. While Kenny stayed with the ugly draft hat that has apparently been glued on since pick 20, Mase chose the Salute to Service cap with the shade of camo that would only help you blend in, if you were hunting for Red Bull Strawberry Apricot at the Mount Pleasant Wal-Mart. It’s a pre-Memorial Day salute that I salute.

Then Mase flipped the script in the locker room by slipping into a second fit: this time the crisp and clean logo on gray. Mason hit the cameras looking fresh and clean with a glistening glow to his face. Is Mase expecting?? Yes, expecting to be in the mix!


The Charisma

This is where the real transformation begins. A month ago, he was struggling to tell Jim Rome about his awkward “conversations of fun” with Matt Canada. His interview with Rich Eisen kinda made it sound like Tomlin was his babysitter, not his head coach. But now, something’s changed. Maybe it’s because the No. 7 corner locker doesn’t cast as big a shadow in the clubhouse anymore. Maybe it’s because he’s a 5th year senior on offense, amongst a bunch of underclassmen. He’s not anxious or up tight. He’s laid back, cool, collective, and dare I say, charming? If Mitch Trubisky is the nice guy who could date your daughter, Mason Rudolph is The Fonz, holding court at Arnold’s. And this bad boy wants to be leader of the pack. In fact, he’s already used a switchblade to carve the captain’s “C” into his leather jacket.

“Leadership perspective. I think I’m able to step up a little more this year, and kinda be vocal. We are a young offensive. So from a leadership perspective, I’m excited to do that.” - Mason Rudolph

The Comedy

Like Robert Johnson and the blues, Mase has leveled up his comedy game to master level, seemingly overnight. Nothing screams cool and confident like someone who is humble, self-aware and self-depreciating in the face of an uncertain future.

Q: “Wasn’t there a time this offseason when you were #1 on the depth chart?”
Mason Rudolph: “That’s probably because I was the only quarterback on the roster”

Not since Johnny Carson had Rodney on the couch have I seen better timing and execution. Mase could’ve dropped the mic right there, but there was more water in the well.

Not to sound like a recap of “The Bachelorette,” but did you hear what Mason C said about Mason R? Has anyone in Steeler Nation ever described Mase in those terms before?

“He’s a handsome man, so he’s tough to beat. He’s pretty cool... He’s single. He’s handsome... I used to be that cool, but not anymore.” - Mason Cole

His teammates want to be him. Ladies want to be around him. Reporters believe he has the answers to their questions. Where did this guy come from, and what is he capable of accomplishing next?

Narrator: He already did.

Kyle Chrise is the host of “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout.” Listen to new episodes every Thursday on the Behind The Steel Curtain podcast network.