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Asked and Answered 2/29: Dome at Heinz?

Posted Feb 29, 2012

Bob Labriola, a Pittsburgh native, has been editor of Steelers Digest since its inception in 1988. Do you have a question  for Bob? Go to the Steelers Facebook page – facebook.com/steelers – look for the Asked and Answered logo and post it there. Then continue reading Asked and Answered to see if yours was chosen.

Frank Lucas: Bob, will the Steelers be doing any renovations to the stadium? I’ve been hearing rumors about a dome-like structure?

There are plans to increase the seating capacity at Heinz Field, possibly add another scoreboard and upgrade some of the other amenities, but those plans won’t be executed in time for the 2012 season. But the Steelers playing in a dome? Probably the same season they debut their cheerleaders.

Jackie A. Lee: My question goes back to Steelers of 1939. My dad played for the Steelers at the time, and I am trying to find out how I can get his number, and a picture of the team from then? His name was Jack (Whitey) Lee.

John Lee, as he is called in the Steelers Media Guide, was a 10th-round draft pick out of Carnegie Tech in 1939, and he played one season with the Steelers. At that time, an NFL Draft lasted 20 rounds. The 1939 Steelers had co-coaches – Johnny Blood and Walt Kiesling – and it’s not surprising that such an arrangement was not conducive to winning. That team finished 1-9-1, with the only victory coming in the season finale, by 24-14 over the Philadelphia Eagles. In the team photo that hangs on a wall in the team’s practice facility, John Lee is identified as wearing jersey No. 25. Email us at steelersfeedback@yahoo.com for information about obtaining a copy of that team photo.

Renee Minnemeyer-Climo: Why are the Steelers holding onto Aaron Smith and Casey Hampton when they can get salary cap relief by releasing them? Is there an issue because of injury? I would think neither would be signed by another team because of their age and injuries and could be re-signed (at a lower rate). I have read Casey isn't going to be ready for the start of the season?

Truthfully, I had expected Aaron Smith to have announced his retirement by now. As he was dealing with a foot injury early last season, Smith found he was experiencing numbness and tingling down his arm even though he hadn’t been playing or practicing football for a while. A subsequent examination determined he needed neck surgery. In an interview with Teresa Varley after that diagnosis, Smith said, “If the right circumstances happened and I got hit in the right situation I could have come off the field on a board. When they tell you that, it puts things in perspective and what is important in this game.” Later in the same interview, Smith said, “If I had not had the foot injury I would have continued to play. I had been playing with it for a long time. I thought it was football. I would have played and kept hitting people. With the foot injury it gave me an opportunity to sit back and say this isn’t right.” To me, that sounded like a man who realized his career was over. As for Hampton’s knee surgery, there was optimism coming out of the procedure that he was going to be OK. Maybe he starts training camp on the physically unable to perform list, but there was no indication this was a career-ending injury.

Jim Graves: With Todd Haley taking over as offensive coordinator and with management’s desire to beef up the running game, what are the chances we will get to see a fullback in the Steelers offensive sets next season? And will this mean they will draft one?

I’m only going to go over this one more time: There is no broad initiative from “management” to see the Steelers go to an offense that is predominantly run-oriented. Yes, there is a belief that the ability to run the ball in situations is a component a championship-contending team must possess, but the Steelers aren’t paying Ben Roethlisberger to be a mailman. As to the fullback: Bruce Arians was opposed to having a fullback, while Todd Haley is not. But even so, it’s not necessary to use a draft pick to add a fullback to the roster. There are enough of them available as undrafted free agents.

Darryl Preble: If someone tenders Mike Wallace, should the Steelers take the No. 1 draft choice so they can get a possible nose tackle and offensive lineman to shore up two weakness?

Nothing against Mike Wallace as a playmaker, but I just don’t think there’s going to be a lot of action on the restricted free agent market league-wide. Not for him, not for anyone. Teams know the Steelers want to keep Wallace, and so they realize they might have to do a ridiculous contract for it not to be matched, and then they would have to be willing to give up a No. 1 pick on top of that. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. If I’m in charge and Wallace presents an offer sheet from a team drafting in the top 20, I automatically take the pick. I’m only matching if the contract fits into the salary scale that already exists within the team.

Charles A. Claypool: What was the outcome of Ben's meeting with the Art Rooney II a few weeks ago? I live in the deep south and do not have all the up-to-the-minute info I'd like to have.

Ben Roethlisberger talked about the meeting with Mike Prisuta of the DVE Morning Show, and the things he said in that interview reflect what I expected all along. The whole notion that Roethlisberger was going to go into a meeting with the team president and make demands or issue ultimatums was ridiculous. In fact, the first time he was ever quoted on the issue of meeting with Rooney, one of the points Roethlisberger made was that he wanted to know what was expected of him moving forward. Based on what he said to Prisuta about the meeting, it even seemed as though Roethlisberger had conceded that he did indeed need to tweak his game just a bit in order to avoid sacks and the accompanying physical abuse his body takes as a result. This was a good thing.

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