The abuse did not end for Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox when he walked off of Heinz Field after the Jacksonville game Sunday. It carried over into his personal life.
And, it could lead to his exit from the Steelers after the season, according to his agent.
A handful of ill-advised fans took it upon themselves to throw objects into the yard of Maddox's suburban home, an obvious reaction to a performance that saw Maddox turn the ball over four times, including twice in overtime, in a 23-17 loss to the Jaguars.
Maddox's final pass was intercepted and returned 41 yards for a touchdown.
Maddox's family, which includes his wife and two grade-school children, has been affected by the fan reaction. Maddox's spouse, Jennifer, has been forced to drive her children to school, in an effort to insulate them from any criticism.
"Having your kids deal with it at school and on the bus is a very, very tough deal," said Maddox's agent, Vann McElroy. "People quickly forget that the Steelers were nowhere near going to the playoffs (in 2002) and Tommy stepped in and guided them there and to a win against Cleveland. They forget how he was paralyzed (partially, during a game in 2002) and came back and put his body on the line for the city and the Steelers."
On Wednesday, Maddox politely turned down an interview request on the topic, saying only, "It's just a few people," who haven't been able to let the loss go.
Asked to comment on the state of fans who would go to such extremes, he was succinct.
"I want it to go away, that's all," he said. "Just want it to go away."
Maddox has been criticized by talk-show callers and e-mailers (the Trib has been inundated with complaints all week) after posting a 30.1 passer rating in Sunday's loss. Two of his most-discussed miscues came in overtime, including a fumble that cost the Steelers a chance to win and the interception that went for the touchdown.
All of these circumstances could lead to his departure at season's end, despite a contract that runs through the 2007 season.
"I think we all need to sit back (and reflect); you never know what can take place," McElroy said. "When things like this are going on, everybody needs to think what's best for everybody, for Tommy and his family. Tommy certainly appreciates the Rooneys (owners of the Steelers) believing in him. But when this stuff (off-the-field abuse) comes into it, it's really tough. It's one thing to get booed, but when you take it beyond the field, that's when it can be too much, especially for a guy who's done some great things during his time in Pittsburgh."
Maddox is listed as questionable for the game Sunday in Cincinnati with a shoulder injury and has been dropped to third on the depth chart behind starter Ben Roethlisberger (who missed Sunday's game with a knee injury) and Charlie Batch.