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Maddox swings toward pro golf career

| Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Tommy Maddox swung through the doors of the Steelers offices Tuesday looking more like a professional golfer than an NFL quarterback. And with good reason.

The former Steelers starter said it would take a "great situation" for him to return to the NFL, while adding that he plans to make golf a full-time endeavor.

He also made it clear that the celebrity tour is not in his plans. Maddox, who has a plus-1.8 handicap, is thinking big.

"If you're really going to try to do it seriously, you have to go into the other tours," said Maddox, who was released by the Steelers in March and has not participated in an NFL minicamp, despite inquiries from several teams.

Asked if he would like to retire from the NFL on top, with a Super Bowl title like teammate Jerome Bettis, Maddox smiled.

"That's not a bad way to go out," Maddox said

Sporting stylish shades, a golf shirt and flip flops, Maddox slipped into the South Side facilities to pick up his Super Bowl ring before visiting The Club at Nevillewood to play 18 holes.

Maddox did not attend the Steelers' ring ceremony Sunday. He also missed the team's visit to the White House two days earlier.

If Maddox, 34, follows his golf dream and retires from the NFL, he'll walk away with a Super Bowl ring, the second-best single-season passing total in Steelers history (3,414 yards in 2003) and a comeback player of the year award from 2002. He also had a rocky final season in 2005, during which he was demoted to third team after turning the ball over four times in an overtime loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and struggling in a later loss at Baltimore.

After his release from the Steelers, Maddox said he had potential employment opportunities with the Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders, but the man known as Tommy Gun is loving life on the links and with his wife, son and daughter.

"I haven't missed a little league game this year," Maddox said, proudly, before adding that he gets to go horse riding with his daughter. "Things are pretty good."

Maddox is wasting little time in his attempts to become a professional golfer. He played in a qualifier for the EDS Byron Nelson Championship on May 8 in Southlake, Texas, missing qualifying for the event by three strokes. At the qualifier, Maddox three-putted three times.

He said yesterday that he has aspirations of playing in the Nationwide Tour, although he is not currently part of the PGA-run venture. He nearly made the cut for a Nationwide Tour event last month and plans to hit the mini-tour circuit.

His impressive handicap is a clear sign that he has the potential to be a competitive pro golfer, according to Dirk Hartman, a pro at Nevillewood. It also helps that Maddox, a former first-round draft choice of the Denver Broncos, has moved to Roanoke, Texas, where he can play year-round. He sold his Pittsburgh-area home this week.

"If he can dedicate himself to golf, he'll make it," Hartman said. "He has the talent and the skill. Some players have false dreams and think they can make it. Tommy's dreams are real. He's crossed the gap. He can play -- and compete."

Hartman said Maddox can drive for distance, but his best asset is his command within 100 yards of the hole.

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