If there were any doubts about the strained relationship between current Steelers quarterback, Mason Rudolph, and former Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, they were probably put to rest last week when the former spoke to the media during the team’s third phase of OTAs:
Rudolph was asked about rookie Kenny Pickett and whether he would help him learn instead of being “like someone else.”
There’s no question that this was a subtle jab at Roethlisberger and how he treated Rudolph when he was drafted in the third round back in 2018. Obviously, the relationship didn’t get much better after that.
Anyway, Rudolph went on to talk about the weird dynamic that exists between a veteran player and a rookie who is brought in with the idea of eventually unseating the older guy at the top of the depth chart:
“We’ve probably all been in situations, whether it’s high school, college or pro, where we’re the incumbent starter, and there’s a new freshman, there’s a new rookie, there’s a highly recruited guy. I’ve always believed in, the starter shouldn’t have to go out of his way, because he’s got a lot of things to deal with. But definitely be open to questions and help the growth and development of a younger quarterback, yeah.”
So, as you can see, Rudolph certainly seems to understand why Roethlisberger felt the way that he did, but maybe he should have been a bit more professional about how he handled things.
It is hard to blame Roethlisberger, or any veteran player in that situation, for feeling threatened by the presence of a younger guy who may be there to replace you in the not-so-distant future. It really is a weird setup, and you can certainly understand why a veteran may not want to be a mentor in that situation.
However, is it totally cool to be a jerk to the new guy?
By all accounts, this was the relationship between Rudolph and Roethlisberger. Some might feel it was unnecessary for Roethlisberger to return to his “no-tipping” roots when it came to offering any guidance to Rudolph, a player who hasn’t exactly endeared himself to the fan base during his 17 appearances over four years.
Regardless, it doesn’t look like Roethlisberger and Rudolph will ever be friends on Facebook, and this brings us back to the subtle jab from the other day.
Many have criticized Rudolph for his remarks, but I can totally see where he is coming from.
I’m sure everyone has been in a weird social situation—whether it be at work or with a network of friends—where you were just plain treated poorly by someone. It had very little to do with you and everything to do with them. You’d dread being in the same room with them, not because you were necessarily afraid of them; it was just hard to deal with the awkwardness.
When you vented about this treatment to a friend or your family, did anyone tell you to suck it up and move on from it? Did they seem to side with the person who was treating you poorly?
Yet, we want Rudolph to be the bigger person when discussing his working relationship with Roethlisberger. I guess I understand that. Roethlisberger is a legend, while Rudolph seems to be on his way to becoming the Cliff Stoudt/Mark Malone/Bubby Brister, etc. of this era. But while we all revered Roethlisberger for the things he did during his 18 years in Pittsburgh, none of us had to work with him.
Rudolph did. To us, Roethlisberger will always be Big Ben, but to Rudolph, it’s probably more like Big Jerk.
Should Rudolph let it go? Maybe, but it’s just so hard not to say anything when the media serves you certain questions on a silver platter.
Besides, what if Rudolph needs to remain bitter about Roethlisberger in order to stay focused on the ultimate prize? It’s not so easy to just let go of certain things. Take Tom Brady, for example. He should have gotten over being a sixth-round pick a long time ago, but judging by the intensity of every “LET’S GO!!!!” that he screams while on the football field, he clearly is still driven by that 22-year-old slight.
We’ve asked Mason Rudolph to swallow a lot of pride over the past five months. After Roethlisberger retired, we wanted Rudolph to publicly congratulate him. We wanted Rudolph to just accept being a backup and not compete for what appears to be an open competition at quarterback.
And now we want Rudolph to not take public jabs at the former co-worker who may not have been so nice to him around the office.
I can’t blame Mason Rudolph one bit for not wanting to swallow any of that malarkey.