Mark Madden

Mark Madden

The Super Genius of Pittsburgh Sports.Full Bio



Ben Roethlisberger likely does not have covid. He likely will play Sunday when the Steelers host Cincinnati. The Steelers likely will win. 

But if Roethlisberger can’t play, Mason Rudolph will. Not good. Rudolph doesn’t stink, unless he does. But he is not my vision of what a backup quarterback should be. 

Mike Tomczak was. 

Rudolph is 25, and in his third NFL season. He started eight games last year, and his inexperience and lack of composure were woefully evident. 

When Tomczak joined the Steelers in 1993, he was 31. It was his ninth NFL season. He had started 46 games. Tomczak was a fully formed quarterback. 

That’s the kind of backup needed by a team with talent, potential and ambition. 

Tomczak’s value and readiness are exemplified by what he and the Steelers did from 1993-97. The Steelers made the playoffs each year, winning division titles from 1994-97. 

From 1993-95, Tomczak started seven games, winning four. 

But in 1996, when Neil O’Donnell departed via free agency after helping the Steelers reach the Super Bowl, Tomczak started. He went 10-5 and the Steelers won the AFC Central. Tomczak won a playoff game, too.

In 1997, Tomczak was a backup again. The Steelers won the division again. 

Tomczak was always prepared, and he mostly delivered. Tomczak was in control of games. 

Rudolph is not. Not so far, anyway. 

Last year proved an unfortunate Steelers mantra: No Ben, no chance. 

Tomczak always gave the Steelers a chance. 


Courtesy of Getty Images

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