Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph infamously had a rocky relationship during their overlapping years in Pittsburgh. Infamously, they were not close, and reportedly, Rudolph did not get help from Roethlisberger. While Rudolph has always acknowledged there was no bad blood, he did note that Roethlisberger never seemed extremely open towards mentoring him.
General manager Kevin Colbert came out after the Steelers selected Rudolph in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft and stated that the team had a first-round grade on Rudolph. However, Rudolph never checked off that billing during Roethlisberger’s time with the team.
“I don’t take it for granted, there’s not many players that can come in and learn from a Hall of Fame quarterback,” Rudolph said back in June. “He was a guy I watched, one of my favorites through college and so being at it for 18 years, he had a mode of operation, his preparation, he sort of prepared independently. I wouldn’t say we were close but he did his job. He had a job to do, he has a team to lead. And I get that. There were plenty of times he would answer questions I had…..There is no bad blood. We weren’t close, but would you expect a 37 or 38-year-old to be best friends with a 23-year-old?”
While Mason Rudolph did give back as a veteran and mentored Kenny Pickett, he said that he and Roethlisberger may not be close, but there is no ill will be held towards him. In fact, anything that there might be, Rudolph says is long gone at this point in his career.
But for the first time, Roethlisberger told his side of the story. On his podcast, Footbahlin, Roethlisberger says that he did try to mentor Mason Rudolph but only stopped when the young player became unreceptive and stopped wanting his help. That’s a new angle that seems different from anything he has said in the past on the topic.
More than anything, Roethlisberger said he never had an issue with Rudolph the moment he got drafted, contrary to popular belief. Thought, his words are more of a veiled shot.
“I didn’t have an issue with Mason when he got drafted,” Roethlisberger said. “I had more of an issue with the pick. We had a really good football team and he got drafted early. I just felt like we could have maybe picked a player who could have helped us at the moment. We were still a team that was competing. I was not worried about him taking my job, that was not an issue for me. I felt in the moment that we could have a drafted a position, offense or defense, that could have helped us. Not a guy that was going to be a potential backup or maybe have a job in the future.”
Roethlisberger says he tried to help Rudolph. Despite his disagreement with the pick at the time, he tucked his pride away and decided to help the young quarterback. Though, Rudolph seemed less receptive after Duck Hodges came around in 2019 when Rudolph was benched for the undrafted free agent.
“When Mason played with me, I tried to help him as much as I could,” Roethlisberger said. “Then he didn’t want my help anymore so I backed off.”
It seems that Roethlisberger played mostly hands-off with Rudolph, which has been a prevailing theory for years. However, the emotions between the two are not that of hatred, but rather just distance, Rudolph did make it a point when he was mentoring Kenny Pickett to say that he wanted to be different than others before him, but this is now the commentary from both sides put together.