I can’t say I got to know Mason Rudolph real well covering his last two years at Oklahoma State. I liked him, though.
I introduced myself to him at 2016 Big 12 Media Day and immediately asked about Baker Mayfield. Some way to start, huh.
Rudolph was polite about it, though, and offered some nice insight into his relationship with his fellow Bedlam quarterback. That established a pattern of Rudolph being polite and insightful the next two years, especially after games that didn’t go well.
He showed some character then, and I pull hardest for character-touched college players who move on to the NFL. I’m pulling for Rudolph with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But I’m also worried about him.
As you no doubt know, Rudolph took a helmet to his unprotected head at the end of the Steelers-Browns game Thursday night. Cleveland pass rusher Myles Garrett swung it at him.
Last month, Rudolph took a hit from onrushing Ravens safety Earl Thomas while completing a pass. He was protected in that instance, but the force of Thomas’ shot knocked him into a frightening state of unconsciousness.
I still can’t shake the image of Rudolph, face mask removed, wobbling off Heinz Field after that play.
I still see Garrett windmilling Rudolph’s own helmet down on the quarterback’s head. I will for a while.
It jolts me to realize that football prompts such rage in men, whether behavioral or fundamental. That the same player was on the wrong side of that rage? Grossly unsettling.
The player could have been a quarterback from Winona State and it still would have bothered me. He was from Oklahoma State, though. He was a young guy I admired, since he helped me do my job.
Like I said, I pull for guys like that. If Rudolph chooses to hang in there, I hope he grows into the pro game, becomes Ben Roethlisberger’s permanent successor and eventually returns the Steelers to the Super Bowl.
It’s just I’d rather him live a healthy, less dangerous life. I’d rather not see any more images as ghastly as those from the Browns and Ravens games, whatever that takes.
Now you know what made me think last week.
This made me smile
Dru Brown’s 43-yard touchdown strike to Dillon Stoner in Oklahoma State’s win over Kansas Saturday.
Guy transfers from Hawaii to win the quarterback job at OSU, plays one snap of an entire season, loses a race with Spencer Sanders before the next season and disappears right back into the shadows... and chooses not to curse fate or kick rocks. Instead, he does what is asked of him.
Saturday, that meant replacing Sanders after Sanders’ throwing hand started bothering him, and seeing out a 24-0 lead. Brown made it 31-0 with his rainbow to Stoner.
“He’s been so good,” coach Mike Gundy said. “He was a captain in this game. That tells you what kind of young man we’re dealing with. He’s practiced hard. He’s stayed focused.
“Everybody sitting here knows it’s difficult to do what he’s doing, but he hasn’t flinched at all.”
Back to thought
Brown is one reason why coaches spit out the word “perseverance” as often as sunflower seed shells and tobacco juice. Parnell Motley is another.
The OU cornerback could have buried himself in a hole after getting kicked out of the loss at Kansas State Oct. 26. Instead, he owned up to hurting the team and decided he would help it moving forward.
Motley’s next game, he intercepted Iowa State’s 2-point pass to save a 42-41 victory.
Saturday night at Baylor, he fought loose from blocker Denzel Mims and chased down Bears running back JaMychal Hasty after Hasty had ripped off a 20-yard run to his own 45. Motley jarred the ball from Hasty on impact, teammate Pat Fields picked it up and OU had its first takeaway since Sept. 28.
The Sooners didn’t cash in on the turnover — they drove down the goal line only to have Jalen Hurts fumble it back to Baylor — but the play was consequential just the same. OU’s defense fed off the energy from Motley’s hit and allowed one first down over Baylor’s next three possessions.
The Sooners went from 31-17 behind to 34-31 ahead during that span.
“Perseverance,” young men. “Perseverance.”
This made me laugh
ABC came out of a commercial break during OU-Baylor showing somebody at the Waco diner Vitek’s building the place’s signature Gut Pack. That’s pulled pork, sausage, beans and barbecue sauce piled onto a layer of Fritos, with cheese, onions, jalapenos and pickles sprinkled in.
Kirk Herbstreit asked broadcast partner Chris Fowler if he’d had the pleasure. Fowler admitted he had on his first trip to Waco, then deadpanned: “One and done.”
Me too, Chris. I inhaled a Gut Pack the night before an OU-Baylor basketball game years ago.
Thank God it wasn’t the day of.
And this made me laugh
Somewhere between me asking Gundy about Chuba Hubbard’s Heisman Trophy candidacy and Gundy giving me a column-worthy answer Saturday, he referred to me as a “dog lover.”
Seriously, I should retire today. It’s the sweetest thing a coach will ever say to me.