Tommy Maddox Says Ben Roethlisberger Will Treat Mason Rudolph 'With Respect'

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2018

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, left, shares a light moment with third string backup quarterback Tommy Maddox before practice Thursday, Feb. 2, 2006 at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich. The Steelers face the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL on Sunday, Feb. 5 in Detroit . (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
GENE J. PUSKAR/Associated Press

Much has been made about Ben Roethlisberger's comments regarding Pittsburgh Steelers third-round pick Mason Rudolph, but one of Big Ben's former teammates believes the situation has been overblown.

Former Pittsburgh quarterback Tommy Maddox—who mentored a young Roethlisberger before losing his job to the Miami (Ohio) product—expects the veteran to be a good teammate to the rookie.

"I think Ben will treat him with respect," Maddox told ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler.

Roethlisberger has been heavily criticized since telling Pittsburgh's 93.7 The Fan that it's not his job to mentor the inexperienced player: "If he asks me a question, I might just have to point to the playbook."

To his credit, Rudolph said on NFL Network's "Path to the Draft" (h/t PennLive.com's Lauren Kirschman) that he understands where his new teammate is coming from.

"If I was Ben, I'd probably say the same thing. He's a competitor. Obviously, he has a lot of confidence in himself, like I do. He's going to be a future Hall of Famer and I would expect him to say that. I'm just looking forward to going in there and learning the system, competing and raising my level of play. Preparing like I'm the starter even though I obviously won't be the starter. Just waiting, waiting and being prepared for whenever I get my time. When my time comes, to be ready and take advantage of it."

Far and away, the most important part of Roethlisberger's job is winning games. But being a leader and a good teammate involves showing the ropes to younger players. In fact, Big Ben himself told USA Today's Tom Spousta (h/t Sports Illustrated) in 2005 that Maddox helped turn him into the quarterback he quickly became: "He'll meet me halfway out on the field to answer a question for me. I owe so much of my success to his help."

Now, the 14-year veteran has the opportunity to do the same...and he doesn't appear overly eager.

Roethlisberger was surprised when the Steelers drafted Rudolph with such a high pick—but he only has himself to blame. Last year, he contemplated retirement. That made Pittsburgh realize that the post-Big Ben era may be near, putting the team in a position to look for a successor.

Whether Rudolph receives Maddox-like mentorship remains to be seen. Regardless, Roethlisberger will remain committed to trying to win another Super Bowl.

"His No. 1 goal is to get ready to play and help the team be successful," Maddox told Fowler. "I've heard a lot of people say he owes it. That kind of gets into a little bit of a slippery slope. His job is to win football games right now. But, with that said, I think everybody in the locker room, the more it gets along, the better this team is going to be."

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