Turns out, Ben Roethlisberger was just kidding. In late May, days after the Steelers drafted Mason Rudolph in the third round, Big Ben announced that "I plan on playing for three-to-five more years," reinforcing the point that selecting a quarterback amounted to a wasted draft pick.
In mid-May, on the first day of rookie minicamp, Rudolph told reporters that James Washington to wish them good luck. And on Tuesday, the first day of OTAs for the Steelers, Roethlisberger was asked about his relationship with Rudolph, the man who could eventually succeed him.and second-round pick
"I think people took some things I said into a context that I was going to be mean or rude or whatever and that was not it at all," Roethlisberger said. "... I've never been the type to be rude or mean to other quarterbacks."
In fact, Big Ben had nothing but nice things to say about the rookie.
Ben Roethlisberger's first impression of rookie QB Mason Rudolph at Steelers practice today: "He’s got a big arm. He seems to understand the offense, seems to not have any issues in the huddle, so I thought he did really well."— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) May 22, 2018
All's well and whatnot.
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Rudolph, to his credit, never seemed fazed by Roethlisberger's original remarks, which never reached the level of being divisive.
"I was surprised when they took a quarterback because I thought that maybe in the third round, you know you can get some really good football players that can help this team now," Roethlisberger said at the time. "Nothing against Mason. I think he's a great football player. I don't know him personally, but I'm sure he's a great kid. I just don't know how backing up or being the third -- who knows where he's going to fall on the depth chart -- helps us win now. But that's not my decision to make. That's on the coaches and the GM and the owner and those kind of things. If they feel like he can help our team, so be it. But I was a little surprised."
"If I was Ben, I'd probably say the same thing," the rookie said days later. "He's a competitor. Obviously, he has a lot of confidence in himself, like I do. Yeah, he's going to be a future Hall of Famer and I would expect him to say that. So I'm just looking forward to going in there and learning the system, competing, raising my level of play, preparing like I'm the starter even though obviously I won't be the starter. And just waiting and being prepared for whenever I get my time whenever my time comes, to be ready and take advantage of it."
And Rudolph's prediction at rookie minicamp that everyone -- veteran and newcomer -- will be on the same page once OTAs begin appears to be spot on.
Now the Steelers can get back to their regularly scheduled off-season programing: Trying to figure out how to beat the Patriots.