The response? As the kids say, the response was “fire!” Lots of traffic. There were 128 comments from readers, many of whom insisted that “hate” was too strong of a word to use to describe how they felt about Rudolph. Nope, they have always been logical and rational when discussing his skills as an NFL quarterback.
Hate? Come on!
Anyway, I’ll bet the response would have been the same in 1998 had someone published an article titled: “Kordell Stewart: The Most Hated Man in Pittsburgh.”
Of course, around the same time that a reader could have been writing a rebuttal to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette insisting that there was no widespread hate for the man once affectionately called “Slash,” it’s likely another “fan” may have been in a Steelers-themed chatroom spreading rumors about Stewart and Schenley Park. And we can’t forget about all of those calls to local Pittsburgh sports talk radio shows during the late-90s and early-00s that had to be dumped because of racial and/or homophobic slurs that were used by folks while describing Stewart’s performance.
Then there was the beer that was dumped on Stewart’s person— at least once but possibly multiple times— as he headed for the locker room following a loss at old Three Rivers Stadium.
My point? Actions speak louder than words.
Back to Rudolph.
I’ve seen the cartoon picture of Rudolph’s dented head (he was smacked in the head with his own helmet, get it?) enough times, I’ve been texted that picture of him being helped to the sideline after being knocked out by Earl Thomas— the pic that was taken after trainers removed Rudolph’s facemask as a precaution— enough times, and I’ve seen the fifth-year quarterback, who is by all accounts a nice guy, called derogatory names such as “douche” and “turd” enough times to know that the man is hated.
To say otherwise is just plain ridiculous.
You might say that it’s a vocal minority who truly hate Rudolph. Okay, but isn’t it always a vocal minority when it comes to these kinds of things? It was a vocal minority who hated Terry Bradshaw and cheered when he got hurt during a game at Three Rivers Stadium 50 years ago. It was one cop who supposedly started the rumors about Stewart back in ‘98, rumors that were spread far and wide by a vocal minority.
Yet, we are still talking about those incidents decades later. And just because it’s a minority of folks who are doing and saying things, that doesn’t mean it’s a small group.
Face it, more than just a small minority hate Rudolph.
Why? Because he’s a quarterback.
No logical person would admit it’s even possible to hate someone they don’t even know simply because they think he or she is bad at a sport, especially when it’s presented in an article like it was the other day. But even the smartest and most logical people are reduced to emotional flatscreen smashers when it comes to sports.
No position in all of team sports brings out the illogical in us quite like a quarterback. It was that way for many years before Ben Roethlisberger, and now that he’s officially retired, it will be that way until someone else comes along and truly takes his place.
There’s a code written in the DNA of the average football fan that tells him or her to irrationally and relentlessly go after the quarterback. In fact, Steelers fans seemed to miss that kind of thing so much during Roethlisberger’s reign, that they jumped all over backup quarterback Landry Jones not long after Pittsburgh’s own Charlie Batch— perhaps the most untouchable quarterback in the history of the Steelers— officially retired following the 2012 campaign. It took a few years and a few appearances, but Jones eventually became the “worst backup quarterback in the NFL.”
If that sounds familiar to you, it’s because that’s who Rudolph is right now.
Talk about your bad luck.
And those are just the Steelers recent backup quarterbacks.
We may be living in slightly more sophisticated times than the "My cousin's boyfriend's brother's boss's mailman's supervisor said," ugliness of the Kordell Stewart era, but social media has reminded us of one thing in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era:
Steelers fans still irrationally hate quarterbacks not named Ben Roethlisberger.
“True story. A guy drives his car off the road, onto the sidewalk and through one of the gates at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium. He drives underneath a runway and runs into a 70-pound vat of nacho cheese. Appetizers for everyone. He backs up and drives along the outer ramps until he reaches the third level. He parks and gets out. He runs down to the football field. When the cops find him, he is at the 50-yard line, kicking imaginary field goals.
“First thing (the cops) ask (the driver), what kind of mental anguish could have led you to this? What horrible thing could have made you want to act like this? The man says it was (Steelers quarterback) Mark Malone.”
It’s a good thing flatscreen TVs didn’t exist in 1987.