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.