June 8, 2007 - 12:00AM
Maddox 'humbled'

Like those who don the title "The Few and the Proud," Tommy Maddox knows a little something about moving due to a job.

Transferring from place to place just comes with territory for Marines as well as professional athletes.

Maddox's journeys now have taken him this week to Jacksonville Country Club and Paradise Point aboard Camp Lejeune for the Marine Corps Celebrity Classic.

Maddox, now 35 and retired after several years of playing quarterback for various NFL teams, is just one of several well-known names who are not only taking time to hit balls at two local golf courses, but also to give back to service men and women who defend our freedom.

After being drafted out of UCLA by the Denver Broncos in 1992, Maddox had tenures with the then-Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, New Jersey Red Dogs of the Arena League, Los Angeles Extreme of the XFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After leading the Xtreme to the first and only XFL title and emerging as the league's Most Valuable Player, Maddox was picked up by the Steelers. He started two seasons and earned the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award before relinquishing his starting position to up-and-comer Ben Roethlisberger, who led the club to a Super Bowl championship two seasons ago.

To Maddox, sacrificing playing time and time spent with family by traveling around the country to play football can't compare to that of the troops. And the two parties meeting gives each side an opportunity to understand what each has experienced for the better of their careers and even lives.

But to Maddox, there's no comparison. The Marines do so much more.

"I think our country sometimes gets it backwards," the father of two from the Dallas-Fort Worth area said Thursday during the celebrity-amateur at Jacksonville Country Club. "They look at movie stars or athletes and people who get paid a lot to do what they are doing, but you can't put a dollar figure what the troops do and you can't put a dollar figure on the freedom we enjoy."

Maddox arrived in town Wednesday and has had the chance to interact with Marines, as well as other celebrities. He has been impressed with how things have gone during his first trip to the Marine Corps Celebrity Classic.

"This is a great event and ran very well and it's for a great cause," he said. "Obviously supporting the people and trying to help is enough (of an incentive) ... but selfishly, being here we are able to see things they do and you get to play golf on top of that."

Experiencing what Marines and their families go through, not the golf, is something the former gridiron player would like everyone to see.

"I think if people had to serve for a couple of years they would have a different perspective," said Maddox. "It is very humbling to see the sacrifices people make to make sure we have the freedom to stand here and play golf and have fun."

Maddox, though, isn't just humbled by the troops, but also from the difficult path he followed on the way to a Super Bowl title.

Yes, he emerged a victor in the XFL, but it took his entire playing career to reach championship glory in the NFL. And he had to take a back seat to do it, giving way to Roethlisberger. He expressed that to his Marine playing partners on the course.

"We talked about that with the troops, I think sometimes we take things for granted," said Maddox, wearing his World Championship ring. "It took me 14 years to get there (Super Bowl) and to be able to experience that and have a ring.

"But my (most memorable moments) are smaller that that, it's the little things like friendship and getting the chance to do things like this."

If meeting the Marines excites Maddox, one could only imagine how the troops feel meeting the celebrities.

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