Where Are They Now? Tommy Maddox

Being a number one draft pick comes with the territory of lofty expectations. But being selected that high as the potential heir apparent to a quarterback as great as John Elway was, well that’s something entirely different. Aaron Rodgers is a more recent example and he’s a hell of a success story, as he evolved from Brett Favre’s understudy to arguably the best quarterback in the game.

However, the evolution of Tommy Maddox is a bit different. After being the first-rounder of the Denver Broncos in 1992, Maddox was traded to the Los Angeles Rams after the ’93 season, due in large part to his less-than-stellar showings in limited game action. This stint was also unsuccessful, and after bouncing around to different teams, Maddox found himself ultimately out of football, so in 1997 he embarked on a career as an insurance agent.

However, his football career was far from over, as WWE Chairman Vince McMahon started up his own entity, the now-defunct XFL or Xtreme Football League, where Maddox became the league MVP for the Los Angeles Extreme in 2001. After the league folded, the Steelers noticed his standout play and signed him to a contract as the backup to their current starter, Kordell Stewart. Eventually, he became the starter and led the team to a postseason appearance in 2002. For his efforts, he won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2002.

He started during the 2003 season as well, although the team limped to a 6-10 finish. The writing was on the wall for him, as during the 2004 NFL Draft, the team grabbed franchise savior, Ben Roethlisberger, in the first round.  The 2004 season would be his last as a starter, and after an early-season elbow injury, he gave way to the rookie phenom.

Playing the sport since he was a youngster, it all ended after the 2006 season and the game he loved so much was once again taken from him.

“You go through this grind your entire life and then suddenly it all stops,” he said, according to DW Gibson of Texas Monthly.

However, football wasn’t the only thing taken from him, as in 2008 his wife inadvertently read a text that revealed infidelity on the part of Maddox. His wife of 16 years, Jennifer O’Dell, filed for a divorce from him, and that also meant losing his two children.

Left at a crossroads, Maddox knew he needed to find a way to get his life, and his family back. Seeking advice, he touched base with an old friend from high school in Madison Michener.

“He said, ‘I want my family back. I don’t know how to work and I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Michener said of Maddox, according to Gibson.

Michener manages a deer breeding grounds and ranch and instilled a great idea in Maddox’s head.

“I told him, ‘God rewards hard work,” Michener said, according to Gibson. “If you get up and you put in a hard days work and you go to bed tired, good things are going to happen. I’m not saying once a week, twice a week, I’m saying every day: sweat and work.’”

Maddox went to work, earning only $400 a week by getting his hands dirty. However, according to Maddox, it was an eye-opener for sure.

“It was a great opportunity to take a step back and see what I wanted to do with my life,” Maddox said, according to Gibson.

After three years of hard work and sacrifice, Maddox truly was a changed man and he started opening the communication lines with his wife. Ultimately, the two reunited in the summer of 2011, although this time, there was no huge wedding ceremony as it was more about resiliency instead of a celebration.

Much like anything in life, after you hit the brakes and step away from it, whenever you come back you truly realize how much it meant to you.

“As my daughter was going into her senior year in high school I sort of realized how fast it goes by,” Maddox said, according to Gibson.

Now, after coaching his teenage son’s baseball team, Maddox began working with several of his son’s friends and it gradually changed into Steelers Baseball, a 7,500 square foot training facility and youth baseball club he started near Fort Worth, TX. As a multi-sport athlete in high school, it was actually baseball and not football that was originally Maddox’s first true love.

He said hundreds of kids have passed through his program.

“I stay in the kids lives and try to prepare them for not only sports but life in general,” he said, according to Gibson. “Just like everybody else I’m human and I’ve struggled at times and been through some bad times.”

  • George Apostolos

    Wow that’s really a crazy story. Good for Maddox to get his life back together.

  • Addison

    He’s at the Park & Eat

  • Orlysteel

    ” god rewards hard work,” words to live by.

  • SixRings

    I’m happy for Tommy Gun, but it’s crazy to think that he was the last starting QB for the Steelers. On a side note, my skin crawls whenever I hear any criticism of Ben whatsoever. There will always be QBs in the pipeline with talent and skill, but QBs like Ben come around once a generation, if you’re extremely lucky. He’s a winner, plain and simple, and we all knew it since the first time he stepped into that game against the Ravens way back in ’04. He has those almost indescribable traits that great players always have. When you have a winner, you know it. It’s easy to tell the difference. The problem is we often become accustomed to greatness and forget the difference. Enjoy the Roethlisberger era for as long as you can because you’ll miss it when it’s over, I promise you.

  • John Noh

    Today’s entry in the “questions nobody is asking” category…

  • Twentyfour Erenberg

    I agree with you 100%. I get so tired of hearing people complain about big Ben. I have learned to immediately tune them out as they are too uneducated about football to argue with them.

  • George Apostolos

    I actually enjoy these posts

  • Luis Garcia

    Always wishing the best to Maddox, good for him.

  • Ryan

    Same here!

  • Ryan

    Tommy Gun was and still is one of my fav Steelers of all time. He was only here a short time but I still enjoyed watching him play.

  • alevin16

    I don’t know how many people realize but because of Tommy losing the game against the Jags we went in as the 6th seed and did not have to play the Patriots. I will always be a Tommy M. supporter because of that :D. And also I think he had his moments, a good QB, not great, but good QB and from what read a good person too.

  • Lizard72

    I have a ballcap signed by him from a Jacksonville game. Good guy, his mother was standing in the crowd and we helped her get to the fence so he could grab her. He just couldn’t move off his spot when pressured.