Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Life of Tommy

Well, it's the end of an era in Pittsburgh. Granted, it was a very weird, interesting, peculiar, intriguing, XFL-type era, but whatever. After five seasons, the big club has released Tommy Maddox for salary cap reasons (and probably for suckitude reasons too). And for almost two seasons, Maddox was the starter, amassing a very respectable (at least by my count) 15-13-1 record. He replaced Kordell Stewart during Week 3 of the 2002 season, and went on to lead the Steelers to a 10-5-1 record, an unbelievable come-from-behind playoff victory over the Browns, and high hopes for the organization going forward. Unfortunately, Mike Mularkey insania (yep I just made that one up and it's insanity + mania) coupled with a horrific offensive line led to a 6-10 2003 season that, in hindsight, was the beginning of the end of the Tommy Maddox Era. Maddox made two more starts in 2004 -- a win in the season opener against the Raiders and his ill-fated for-all-intents-and-purposes-career-ender the following week against the Ravens -- and two more inglorious starts in 2005 for the injured Ben Roethlisberger. Ironically, it was his 2005 performance (in addition to he and his agents claims that fans had thrown garbage in his yard after the Jacksonville game) that pretty much guaranteed he would be selling insurance come the spring. And here we are.

Eric broke the news and suggested I offer a retrospective. Well, here goes. And like I mentioned earlier, we've all taken our shots at Tommy, especially after his dreadful 2005 effort, but I'll still remember him for the 2002 Browns playoff game, the 2002 Titans paralysis game, and to a lesser extent, probably the 2002 Texans game (that single-handedly kept the Steelers from getting a bye). Say what you want about Tommy, version 2005, but he was fun to watch in 2002 (well, except for the Texans game).

Anyway, I took a quick stroll around the internets and came up with this random collection of articles, stories, columns and other synonyms about the Pittsburgh life and times of Tommy Maddox (and by the way, I had trouble finding some of the earlier articles, so if you have a better link, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll update it here):

The Tommy Timeline
Steelers Sign Quarterback
Offseason 2001
What's really scary about this article -- other than the Steelers hiring the XFL MVP, is that they were trying to sign either Trent Dilfer or Scott Mitchell. Dilfer I can at least understand, but can you imagine Mitchell? Jeebus.
High on the Highlands
Saturday July 21, 2001
I think this column was the predecessor to the modern day MMQB from Peter King. He had some funny (not laughing with him funny, but laughing at funny; of course, I can go back two weeks and find stuff that I wrote that is equally as "funny") comments on Zereoue. Ouch. And who the hell is Tim Baker?
Maddox leads the Steelers to victory
Sept. 29, 2002

XFL's Maddox now just excels
Saturday, October 12, 2002
September 29, 2002. That's when it all started for Tommy, and basically all ended for Kordell. And it was only three seasons ago. It might as well have been 30 it seems so long. Weird.
At long last, Maddox proving Reeves right
Nov. 5, 2002

Maddox's possible long-term effects aren't yet known
Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Finder on the Web: Maddox's frightening injury -- Such images are rare, but a part of football
Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Why, Tommy?
December 3, 2002

Comebacks second nature to Maddox
Jan. 09, 2003
A few months later, Maddox takes what looks to be a benign hit from a Titans linebacker and ends up paralyzed. Looking back -- and now knowing that there was no lasting damage -- the worst part of that whole ordeal was watching the medical staffs take off Maddox's face mask before putting him on the stretcher to take him off the field. He looked like an oversized Gazoo. (It's OK to laugh, he was fine.)
Texans maneuver around Steelers for upset, 24-6
Monday, December 09, 2002
If suffering through a life-threatening injury was one of the scariest moments of his career, the inexplicable loss to the Texans had to be one of the most embarrassing (probably ranked right after winning the XFL MVP). I mentioned it above, but dropping this game meant that the Steelers didn't get homefield advantage, and as a result, DeWayne Washington cemented his place as one of the nicest Steelers in history to single-handedly lose a playoff game. But I'm getting too far ahead of myself ...
Steelers stunned by own comeback
January 2003
That's right, the Texans game was all but forgotten (and the Titans game was still a week away) after one of the most improbable comebacks in Pittsburgh's history. After this year's Indy game, a lot of people was calling it the most exciting playoff game in NFL history. I'm not sure this game wasn't as good, if not better.
Steelers cut QB Stewart loose to get under salary cap
Feb. 26, 2003
After the season, the Steelers make it official: Maddox is their guy. A 6-10 outing, and twelve months later, the Pittsburgh front office has different plans about the direction of the organization.
Tulane QB an option for Steelers
Thursday, April 08, 2004

Maddox dealing with contract drama
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Roethlisberger's selection, contract situation don't sit well with Maddox
Monday, April 26, 2004

Maddox claims draft-day reactions were misunderstood and misinterpreted
Thursday, April 29, 2004
I mentioned a few weeks ago that the Steelers had given some thought to drafting Rex Grossman in 2003, but I had totally forgotten about them bringing J.P. Losman in prior to the 2004 draft. I hesitate to even type this, but give me Grossman on that one. (That's like asking me whether I'd want to be kicked in the nuts by Jackie Chan or Jet Li).

And then, of course, there was the little issue of Tommy having that ridiculous contract. He made less than his backup, Charlie Batch, and he probably had some legitimate gripes about getting a little more dough. Knowing what we know now, however, I guess a case could be made for giving Maddox only the veteran minimum.

Things got worse when the Steelers drafted Roethlisberger with the 11th overall pick in the April draft. Maddox (and apparently Mike Prisuta) was under the impression the team would be drafting an offensive linemen, and when they didn't, Tommy did what any self-respecting, grown man would do: he pouted. Yeah, that didn't work out to well. Still, those antics paled in comparison to Vann McElroy's latest masterpiece: staging a refuse party on Maddox's lawn after this year's Jags game, but again, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Roethlisberger has wild, wonderful first practice, draws rave reviews
Saturday, May 08, 2004
I included this link because it's fun to see how much Roethlisberger has changed in just two seasons. To think that this guy would be nervous about meeting Bettis is almost laughable at this point. But then again, Roethlisberger was only 22 when he showed up in Pittsburgh.
Maddox unlikely to see much of money from his contract extension
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Maddox agrees to new deal
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Maddox finally gets his deal, although before the ink was even dry on the contract, the papers were reporting that he probably wouldn't see all the money. And guess what?
Maddox enjoys efficient preseason
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Despite all the turmoil surrounding the QB position -- perceived or otherwise -- the Steelers were going to start Maddox in 2004, let Ben pull a Carson, and see where things were in 2005. Yeah, that didn't last too long ...
Maddox injured as Ravens dominate in 30-13 win
Monday, September 20, 2004

Steelers Notebook: Maddox won't make waves over demotion
Thursday, November 04, 2004

Cowher: QB job is officially Big Ben's
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
And just like that, the Ben Roethlisberger Era began. To be fair, Maddox never complained, at least publicly, about his new role as clipboard holder/babysitter when he returned from an elbow injury that I'm still not sure is 100 percent.

A year later, Tommy had his ill-fated "Run Yourself Out-of-Town Game" against the Jags (and convinced any remaining doubters in the Ravens contest), and today he was released:
Tommy Maddox released
March 03, 2006
I like giving Maddox a hard time, but he also deserves some credit for what he was able to do during the 2002 season. The guy was selling friggin' insurance a few years ago. To make an NFL comeback is nothing short of amazing. Of course it says something about the state of the Pittsburgh QB situation when Maddox can win a job, but that's beside the point. My buddy Andy mentioned the other day that Maddox should just retire with the team because it would be better than see him get cut after a pretty craptacular 2005 season. Yeah, I think that sounds about right.

So here's to all those insurance salesmen who have dreams of playing QB in the NFL. Remember, where there's a will -- and a team with Kent Graham and Kordell Stewart fighting for the starting job -- there's a way.

One more thing -- I wanted to mention a couple of new blogs.

Bettina Elstro has a Steelers blog and I'm pointing it out here because she's probably the cutest person (that I'm not married to) to ever to email me about Steelers-related stuff, and she's also a fellow Tartan (and yes, that is, without a doubt, the worst mascot in the history of mascots).

And Ben Henry emailed me about his new blog, The Baseball Card Blog, which is great because it's funny, well-written, and a nice little stroll down my 1980's baseball card collection. Oh yeah, no word on how cute Ben is.

That's all for now huckleberries.