Maddox ignores irate fans

PITTSBURGH – Tommy Maddox yesterday confirmed a report that his lawn had been trashed by fans following the Steelers' loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

When asked how bad it was, Maddox said only that, "it was bad." He added that he'd never experienced anything like it throughout his football career.

Maddox met with reporters after Thursday's practice. His agent, Vann McElroy, had told a newspaper the previous day that the abuse involved Maddox's family.

McElroy told the Tribune-Review that "having your kids deal with it at school and on the bus is a very, very tough deal."

The newspaper did not report specific abuses, nor did Maddox on Thursday.

"I'm not going to talk about all of that," he said. "I've been here five years and had a lot of support in those five years and so fans are fans and some people are going to react the way they're going to react. That's the way this game goes. I've been around this game a long time.

"Obviously I wish I would've played better on Sunday. If we end up winning the game, we're not talking about all this stuff. That's the way it goes and I didn't play well on Sunday. People have their opinions."

Steelers coach Bill Cowher scolded fans who go beyond giving an opinion.

"Let me just say this: No one feels worse about losing a game like that than the players and coaches in that locker room," Cowher said. "They throw everything into it. No one felt worse than Tommy. I mean, this is a quality individual. We all understand the criticisms that come with this game and we understand that, but when you start taking it outside the field, to the house, to the kids, to me you've crossed the line. It's a classless thing to do."

Filling in for injured Ben Roethlisberger, Maddox threw three interceptions and fumbled during the Steelers' 23-17 loss last Sunday. His fumble ended the Steelers' first overtime possession and his overtime interception was returned for a touchdown to end the game.

Asked about the fumble after the game, Maddox said, "I didn't get it clean … and kind of bumped into Danny [Kreider]." The comment was taken by some fans as Maddox trying to pass blame to others.

"Anybody that's been around here and knows me at all, knows that's not me," Maddox said Thursday. "I've been in situations like that before. People asked me what happened on the play and I told them what happened on the play. I'm not blaming anybody.

"Like I said, I didn't play very well and we still had our chances to win the game. So, if those are the comments being made, that's ridiculous. I've been in a lot tougher situations and tried to handle myself the best I could and will be the first one to say when I didn't play well."

Maddox injured his right shoulder when he was hit late by Deke Cooper following his 16-yard run and slide Sunday. Cooper was penalized for the hit.

"(It) sprained some joints in there," Maddox said. "It bothered me on the next couple of throws but after that it loosened up until Monday morning."

Maddox hasn't practiced this week and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Cincinnati. Roethlisberger is listed as probable and is expected to play.

"Obviously you want to play better," Maddox said. "I think when you watch the film, we had opportunities to make plays and I didn't throw it where I needed to a couple times and we just didn't make plays when we had to. It's unfortunate. You play this game long enough and you'll have bad days, and I had a bad day."

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