by Alex Poletti
Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images
It’s been an unfortunate week for Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Delvin Hodges, who drew the short straw and now has to start Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns. Sources tell The Second String that back-ups Mason Rudolph and Paxton Lynch shared a moment of pure elation following the draw.
“It’s unfortunate to say the least,” Hodges, who finished out last week’s win against the Bengals, says. “Someone has to do it. You hope it’s not you, but sometimes your number gets called. I’ll have to be the one to bite the bullet and take one for the team.”
Following an early-season injury to longtime starter Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback position has been in a constant state of flux. The job went to Mason Rudolph, a third-round draft pick in 2018, who performed with textbook Steeler mediocrity down the stretch.
“God must be real,” Oklahoma State alum Rudolph says following the draw. “This is the happiest day of my life. If I had to go back on the field against Cleveland, I think my head would’ve suffered a blunt trauma injury by itself.”
This method of picking a starting quarterback is rather unheard-of, but in a season of struggles, head coach Mike Tomlin decided it was worth a try.
“It’s not like using the eye test was working,” Tomlin says. “I could either watch these guys closely and come to a final determination based on work ethic, skill and football IQ, but they’re going to fuck it up regardless. There’s always some defender there to intercept a pass or rip off their helmet and attempt to murder them. I thought I might as well let them figure it out.”
The three eligible quarterbacks could not figure out a way to properly decide amongst themselves, eventually landing on drawing straws. Unfortunately, the undrafted rookie Delvin Hodges got called to service. In an event filled with more dread than the Vietnam lottery drawing, the 23-year-old Alabaman was selected as the sacrificial lamb for the city of Pittsburgh.
“I have faith in the kid,” Tomlin says. “He’s performed well in a limited sample size, and that always translates. Plus, he’s the whitest quarterback we’ve got. I thought it would be hard to get a name whiter than Mason Rudolph, but Devlin certainly takes the cake. Anyway, he’s a smart kid. Stanford University—hold on, Stamford University? Jesus Christ, take the wheel.”