Depending on your perspective, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was either practicing self-preservation or selfishness in his post-draft comments about third-round quarterback Mason Rudolph.
But either way, Tommy Maddox has been the in both situations before.
Maddox was the Steelers entrenched starter when they drafted Roethlisberger, and was willing to help his eventual replacement learn how to adjust to the pro game. Of course, an arm injury in the second week of the season handed the job to Roethlisberger and he never gave it back, so it wasn’t as if Maddox had a long time to show him how it was done. But he thinks once they get to camp, the two will be fine.
“I think Ben will treat him with respect,” Maddox told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. “His No. 1 goal is to get ready to play and help the team be successful.
“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.”
Maddox, now coaching high school baseball in Texas, said it’s not a one-to-one comparison because Roethlisberger’s a better player than he was at the same stage.
“Everybody’s going to handle things differently. I’m not going to sit here and say I think Ben owes it to him to [mentor],” Maddox said. “I think all of us, when you’re playing, you owe it to your teammates to be respectful and do what’s best for the team and all that.
“I don’t think it’s a situation where Ben owes it or that’s his job or whatever. But it is his job as a leader of the team to lead the team and make sure there’s no distractions.”
Maddox also saw it from the other perspective, as some guy named John Elway wasn’t necessarily thrilled when the Broncos drafted him in the first round in 1992. Asked what he’d tell Rudolph, he replied: “Be yourself, go about your business, do the things that you need to do. Kind of control what you can.”
Roethlisberger can do just that by playing at the level he’s accustomed to, which will make questions of a succession plan moot until the veteran starts talking about retirement again.