Tommy Maddox On Big Ben: ‘Cocky’ Attitude Helped Make Him ‘Successful’

If you have followed Ed Bouchette for very long, you might get the sense that he is not the biggest fan of former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox, who spent two years in 2002 and 2003 as the team’s starter after finding success in the XFL.

It was after the 6-10 2003 season, of course, that the team drafted Ben Roethlisberger, and the rookie entered the starting lineup early in the season after Maddox suffered an elbow injury, and he has not come out of the lineup since.

The former XFL-er was recently featured in a documentary, which has raised its profile once again, and Maddox was interviewed about his experiences in that short-lived league, as well as his career in the NFL prior to that, as well as after.

He was asked if his experience in that league helped him as a quarterback, and he did credit the opportunity to start and play a full season on a full-sized field for raising his confidence again in his own abilities. After he won that league’s championship, he faxed every team in the NFL asking for a chance to try out.

Maddox said that he folding of the XFL caught him by surprise, and that he was planning to spend that offseason promoting the league under contract, but he was fortunate to hear from the Steelers just a few days later, who extended him a tryout and ultimately signed him.

He started 11 of 15 games in 2002, completing over 62 percent of his passes for close to 3000 yards, averaging 7.5 yards per pass attempt. He threw for 20 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. They went 7-3-1 in the games that he started, and he led them to a playoff victory.

That earned him the opportunity to start the following season, which he did for 16 games, but the vaunted ‘Tommy Gun’ offense proved to be short-lived, as he completed just 57.4 percent of his passes and threw 18 touchdowns to 17 interceptions en route to a losing record.

Maddox knew his time was running out when the Steelers drafted Roethlisberger, but he said that he thought he would get the chance to play out one more season as the rookie learned. Still, when his injury occurred and Roethlisberger found success, he took solace in the fact that he was still able to make a successful return to the NFL, even winning Comeback Player of the Year.

He was asked about his relationship with Roethlisberger, saying that they “had a great relationship”. Asked about Roethlisberger’s early reputation for being a bad teammate, Maddox expressed sympathy, but said that the motorcycle accident in his third season “probably helped him”.

He said that there were times early on where Roethlisberger seemed “pretty cocky for as young as he is”, but added that “that is what made him successful. When you deal with athletes, you have to have a little bit of that in you to be successful”.

“He was a little cocky and a little brash and very confident in himself. In the end that personality is what made him successful”, Maddox concluded. He also said that he still follows the Steelers and that he named his youth baseball club after the team. Even if he didn’t part with the team on the most friendly of terms.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • walter

    Bens rookie rookie season was great

  • steelburg

    The team overall success was pretty good and Ben made a lot of timely clutch plays. But statistically speaking 17tds to 11 ints isn’t that good.

  • Josh Gustad

    I agree with Tommy 110%. I think eventually his cocky attitude went too far, but that swagger and attitude that he was gonna be great helped him early in his career. Too many young players, especially QBs, struggle early on. Confidence was always key for Ben.

  • francesco

    A cocky attitude is what is missing in Ben these last few years.

  • Eric C. Brown

    I don’t know that I’ve noticed it “these last few years,” but I noticed it this past season. Only one game, in my mind, did he come out of the tunnel looking like he was going to blow it up and that was the Kansas City prime time contest at Heinz. The way he shot out of the tunnel smiling and getting the crowd pumped, you knew it was going to be a good night. And he went freaking OFF that night. I think the Philly game the weak (misspelled ‘week’ but it works for that Philly game so I think I’ll just leave it like that) before brought the fight back out of him. He looked defeated from pregame to the final gun at New England. Looked like he knew they had no chance. He had zero swagger that game. Now, with him contemplating retirement, I fear we may get a Cowher-esque final season this year with him going through the motions. I hope to God I’m wrong about that. I love the dude and fear the day he hangs it up. I just hope he can get some of that swagger back. Maybe a return of Martavis to once again give him a legit number two will get him excited instead of having to throw to camp fodder all season.

    Also, he’s married with kids now. His priorities have changed from self to family and that may have taken some of the fire out of him. His health is more important now than competition. Can’t blame him.

  • will

    Why open your article with the statement that Bouchette did not particularly like Maddox? How does that play into the rest of the article? Just seems out of context to me. Great article overall.

  • My theory on Maddox is that he was the beneficiary of Kordell, whose accuracy was so bad that the receivers needed to be so good at reacting to the ball in the air and being aware of the QB at all times that they could catch nearly anything. Once they got lazy after having the ball thrown directly at them, it all went downhill.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Maddox was an important bridge for us to have to walk over. I still remember the 2001 season and AFC Championship like it was yesterday. Kordell Stewart, after having thrown 3 INT’s in the AFC Championship in ’97 against the Broncos in a loss, once again crushed my soul with a 3 INT game and a loss, to what I consider a less talented Patriot team than we were. Kicking off in style, the grrrr… gulp… “Tom Brady Era.”

    Although ‘Slash’ had provided us with some fleeting moments of excitement, he also after that ’97 season, had us in the wilderness for the next 3 seasons, as we missed the playoffs, and lead us down the path to Kent Graham starting in 2000. After Stewart was a shocking revelation in 2001, the wheels promptly fell off in 2002, and the Tommy Gun was born. The brief Maddox Era was important, because we had grown to be a very strange Offense at the time, used to having the QB bail himself out often, with 70 yard miracle touchdown scampers. Which though exciting and new, wasn’t a sustainable style of Offense. We NEEDED a traditional drop-back gunslinger, to come back in and lead the way for us to re-tool the Offense around the eventual likes of Big Ben.

    And when Ben came in and shown flashes of sort of being able to do it all, use both his strong arm in the pocket, making all the throws, AND when needed, his legs and feet, it was as though we had a guy who had the best sort of traits of both Kordell and Tommy. And the Offense was able to take advantage and properly and promptly, push Ben down the road of staying in the pocket, and being the big, strong QB that he was. If we never would have had those couple of Maddox years, one has to wonder if after Kordell, we would have been desperately trying to look around and find our own Mike Vick to run our Offense. Instead, after seeing Maddox come in, stand in there and sling, it was the sort of bridge that we needed, to get back to having a more traditional, and successful drop back QB. And for that, I’m thankful.

    [ And I’ll add, after the trials and tribulations of Slash, I actually found the Tommy Gun seasons to be sort of fun and fresh. Even if 2002 ended with an Overtime playoff loss to Tennessee and Joe Nedney’s Oscar performance, that still makes me want to kick the dog when I think about it. ]

  • Benjamin Netzel

    I’d rather have someone be cocky and self-assured then doubt themselves and assume the worst.

  • dany

    Statistically sure. Which is why Prescott’s 23:4 ratio is so eye popping, plus a bit more rushing ability than Ben

  • Josh

    yeah, it was kinda weird times with Maddox but it was ultimately a great step in the right direction. and those pre-Maddox years – 2000 – that was some wilderness, all right. when Dave B says you take 2 QBs until you get the right one, I couldn’t agree more. not having a QB in the NFL is *tough*.

  • Stephen

    He was pretty damn accurate throwing the ball to the Broncos in the AFC Championship game

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Kordell was good initially but it seemed as if the league made an adjustment to him and he was never able to adjust accordingly. That’s the way I remember it but it was a long time ago.

  • EdJHJr

    I also remember down town Joe Gilliam when Terry was was trying to get some traction

  • Michael Mosgrove

    freaking maddox eh?

  • Ryan Alderman

    Agreed.

  • Robert E Lil

    THE QB who finished number ten

    In my book that makes him the 3rd most successful qb in Steelers history

  • David Dulaney

    My reaction as well.

  • James Brown

    You neglected Hanratty.LOL

  • thomas hmmmm

    The benefit of that family means he has mouths to feed and make sure they will be financially set for life.. They should be set for life now but I have no idea what his situation is.
    Steelers players don’t seem to go broke quite like the rest of the leagues players, or maybe we just don’t hear of it happening like that.
    So he might play a few more years until the kids are a little older.

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