PFB - Mason Rudolph’s Life Will Change This Week, but His Legacy Will Not

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OP News

Feb 17, 2018
Mason Rudolph will be drafted by the New England Patriots on Thursday evening. Or by the San Diego Chargers on Friday evening. Or by the Buffalo Bills on one of those two nights. Or some other franchise. After months of hand-wringing and mock draft-making, Rudolph will purchase an apartment or a home in some U.S. city that is not Stillwater, USA later this year and set up shop on the next step of his life.

We will cover these events because they deserve to be covered and because they are interesting, but I’m intrigued by the idea that no matter what happens (barring something insane like Rudolph usurping Tom Brady and winning seven Super Bowls for the Pats), Rudolph’s legacy to Oklahoma State fans will always be more about what he did against TCU or Texas or West Virginia than what he does in the AFC West or NFC East.

Think about how odd this is in the greater context of real life. What if, no matter what you did in your professional career, what you did in college always held more weight with a large swath of people, ostensibly the people reading blog posts like this one? It’s bizarre that his actual life is about to change in a monumentally meaningful way and yet nobody who cares about Oklahoma State will likely ever think of him much differently than they do right now.

That’s been a good thing for Brandon Weeden. The only QB to ever lead Oklahoma State to a Big 12 title has not had a great NFL career, Weeden has completed 58 percent of his passes in the NFL for 6,462 yards and 31 TDs but also 30 INTs. Decent, but nothing special. He’s on his fourth team and likely just playing out the string of his career. And yet to most of us this has not changed the way we think or feel about Brandon Weeden.

I’ve mentioned this countless times, but I am so irrational about Weeden’s ability and career that I cannot be trusted to objectively assess his time as a professional (and I literally get paid a salary to objectively assess what happens in professional sports!)

The same is mostly true of Rudolph. His legacy in Stillwater will likely become more complicated over time, and some of that will actually be more affected by what happens in the wake of his career in Stillwater (if OSU is average for the next few years, this will help his case) than whatever he does in Baltimore or New Orleans or Arizona.

There is an irony to the idea that as soon as you can take your life and career into your own hands as a professional, the way most of your fans think of you gets taken out of them.

If Rudolph flops in the NFL, he’ll always be the guy who won 32 games as a starter in orange and black. If he wins a Super Bowl, he’ll always be the guy who had the ball in his hands against Oklahoma and Kansas State on the final drive and didn’t get it done. This is obviously because you and I care far more about what happens on Saturdays than on Sundays.

Dez Bryant’s success with Dallas? It’s fun. It’s great. But we still discuss what he did against Georgia in 2009. We remember those catches 10 years later. We don’t even remember what he did in his most recent Dallas game (or I don’t anyway). This might seem an obvious point, but with how overwhelming the NFL and its news cycle and how disproportionate its accolades can be, I think it’s worth noting.

I think time will probably do some good for what Rudolph did in Stillwater. It’s easy to get lost in the minutia of individual games, quarters and even drives while somebody is still in school. Especially when that somebody is quarterbacking a preseason top 10 team and loses three games his senior year. But we generally retroactively bequeath much praise to players whose careers were overwhelmingly positive. Rudolph, while more dissected, likely won’t be any different.

As for what’s going to happen this week, I have no idea. I think New England would be cool, but I’m a Brady-phile. What I do know is that the NFL Draft has unveiled a more swaggering side of Rudolph that he masked for the sake of the team for the last four years. I’ve enjoyed that. His inability to hide an internal frustration about what people say about him or who they think he is has amused me.

Is @Rudolph2Mason surprised he's not being talked about as one of the top QB's in the #NFLDraft? Yes.

Does @CowboyFB great believe he's a 1st round pick? Yes.

Does he sound fired up about it? Yes.

(Interview courtesy of @WSOCTVSports) #okstate

— Jeff Kolb (@JeffKolbTV) April 19, 2018

“I think what I’ve put on tape, what I’ve done for four years speaks for itself,” Rudolph said recently. “I think you’re going to see a different result from the talking heads of the world. I believe I’m a first round quarterback. It’s not always the guys who are talked about that outlast and outperform.”

That’s a great quote, but the smirk to go with it is even better.

I’m here for this!

And I’m excited about Rudolph’s professional career. I have no idea if he’ll succeed or fail at the next level. I really don’t. I think we give too much credence to individual metrics (40 times, arm strength) and too little to situation and fit. Those seem to be more reasonable determinants to success in an industry where the margins are microscopic.

What I do know is that no matter if Rudolph’s name is called in the first two hours on Thursday or the last two on Friday, my opinions of him (which did change quite a bit in his senior year and have been well-documented on this blog!) will only change an iota. Whether he throws 25 TDs in his rookie year or doesn’t play until his third or fourth go-around, how I view him as football player won’t move much.

What we love affects our perception of people and places, and to me Mason Rudolph, will always be one of the best to ever do it at Oklahoma State. He’ll also be the guy who couldn’t close when he needed to late in his career. A complex legacy, yes, but one that is secure.

The post Mason Rudolph’s Life Will Change This Week, but His Legacy Will Not appeared first on Pistols Firing.

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