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Asked and Answered: April 13

Posted Apr 13, 2017

Another installment of Bob Labriola answering your questions about the Steelers and the NFL.

Let’s get to it:

JEREMY HARVEY FROM INVERNESS, SCOTLAND:
How did the international series game in London sit with the franchise and fans? Would the team welcome a return to London, or is it just taking away a home game from fans in the United States and therefore not worthwhile?

ANSWER: Speaking for myself and most of the rest of the staff that traveled to London in 2013 for a game against the Minnesota Vikings, there were just two things about the adventure that we didn’t like: the team lost the game to the Minnesota Vikings, and we didn’t get to spend enough time in London. We made some friends at The Thornbury Castle and even did an episode of Steelers Live right from their establishment. Because coaches are creatures of habit, traveling to Europe is likely something they would rather avoid, but the NFL is serious about at least maintaining its presence overseas, and the staffs of the teams involved cannot help but enjoy the experience.

BEN COFFEY FROM CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND:
NFL.com reported that Kevin Colbert said he plans to take the best safety or cornerback available with the team’s first-round pick. If it's a safety, what do you think that means for Sean Davis and Mike Mitchell? Do you envision a drafted safety becoming the nickel defensive back? And if it's a corner, do you think they will be drafted to play slot or outside? In other words, is it Golson/Gay or Cockrell/Burns whose job is in jeopardy?

ANSWER: I can absolutely, positively guarantee you that Kevin Colbert didn’t say that, because he never, ever would paint himself in a corner when it comes picking a player at a particular position. The Steelers just don’t zero in on a position for a draft pick in a particular round. They just don’t, and they haven’t since Chuck Noll was hired in 1969. Believe me or don’t, but that’s not the way they conduct their draft.

ERIK MONTGOMERY FROM ROCHESTER, NY:
I was curious to how much pull does Ben Roethlisberger have? I'm reading reports that he's requesting the Steelers draft a big tight end. There are some great options, but I feel that's not a team need. I feel those picks would be used on a pass rusher, preferably T.J Watt if he's still around, or on a cornerback.

ANSWER: Ben Roethlisberger has more pull than either you or me, but I don’t know that it’s enough to make policy as to which players/positions the Steelers target with their draft picks. And before anyone gets the impression that this is a dig at Roethlisberger, I would caution you when reading these “reports,” because 99 percent of the time the author is going off rumor or is being fed false information. And by the way, Roethlisberger already has denied this, and the author of it is well known for being wrong far more often than she is right.

MIKE KERR from HOUSTON TX:
Recently on NFL.com, a story rated the best No. 1 draft picks of all time, and Joe Greene was left off that list. I think that really stinks. Joe Greene changed the face of the Steelers forever, and I would like to know how you feel about him being left off that list.

ANSWER: I don’t read NFL.com, because since most if not all of their Steelers information is inaccurate, and so based on that how could I trust what is being written about other teams? I find that’s true with most of the stuff on that site, except for things written by Judy Battista, because she knows her stuff. But in this particular case, I believe you misunderstood the point of the piece. It was a ranking of the best first overall picks, not just No. 1 picks. To clarify, Terry Bradshaw was a No. 1 overall pick, and he was on the list. Joe Greene was the fourth pick of the first round in 1969, and therefore he didn’t qualify.

KEVIN WEST FROM MT. UNION, PA:
What would you say is the biggest mistake in Steelers history? Cutting Johnny Unitas?

ANSWER: In terms of a singular act of ineptitude, cutting Johnny Unitas without so much as letting him take some snaps in an exhibition game has to be up there, not only in terms of the Steelers franchise but also in all of NFL history. But if we were going to expand the ineptitude to include a philosophy instead of limiting the discussion to a single personnel move, my vote would go to Buddy Parker’s practice of trading away draft picks in bunches for over-the-hill veterans.

MITCH THOMAS FROM DANVILLE, IL:
I have two youngsters at home who have asked to send a letter to different Steelers players or coaches in the past. Is there a specific office I should send them to?

ANSWER: Mail to current Steelers players and coaches can be addressed to: 3400 S. Water Street, Pittsburgh, PA, 15203.

ANNE COLETTI FROM LITTLE ROCK, AR:
Why does a player's age matter so much? It is the first statistic thrown out about players at this time of year. If a player is producing on the field, why is age the top consideration? For instance, quarterbacks play well into their 30s, and age is touted as experience. But other positions, save kickers, it's like hitting 30 is a death sentence. James Harrison proves it's just a number. Doesn't he? One can argue that injuries plague older players (Troy Polamalu and now DeAngelo Williams), but Le’Veon Bell has been hurt every year.

ANSWER: It’s a physiological fact that human bodies break down and heal more slowly as they age, and that makes age a significant issue in a business such as professional athletics. Age can be a reflection of experience, but in every instance the clock is ticking, and Father Time is undefeated. James Harrison is the exception, not the rule, and this is the time of year when NFL teams are building their rosters by accumulating talent. When a team is considering a multi-million dollar investment, it would be tantamount to malpractice if age wasn’t a major consideration.

KEITH OVERSTREET FROM SHORT PUMP, VA:
I appreciate your research, because I had no idea Terry Bradshaw threw a combined 45 interceptions in 1978-79. I think the Steelers’ 1975 defense was the best ever. My question is, and I was a young teen, but didn't I see Jack Ham, Joe Greene, Mel Blount, Jack Lambert, and Andy Russell on the field at the same time for the Pro Bowl?

ANSWER: In the 1976 Pro Bowl, which was played based on the 1975 season, there were eight Steelers defensive players who were part of the AFC squad: Mel Blount, Glen Edwards, Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Andy Russell, and Mike Wagner.

DEAN MASON FROM VINELAND, NJ:
Is Steelers vs. Bengals the best rivalry in the NFL today?

ANSWER: It’s not even the best rivalry in the AFC North. That would be Steelers vs. Ravens.

MARK MCFADDEN FROM SAN JOSE, CA:
First, thank you for consistently bringing a smile to my face. Secondly, I have a request for anyone reading this: as to the Richard Sherman questions – please stop. The answer is, no.

ANSWER: I second that.

SCOTT SISAK FROM NEW TRIPOLI, PA:
With the Seahawks saying that a trade for Richard Sherman would require a No. 1 pick plus a conditional mid-round pick, I think that is fair for the Steelers to do, but do they even have the salary cap to pay him $11 million a year for the next two years?

ANSWER: My answer is that you should pay attention to Mark McFadden.

RUSSELL WALKER FROM CATONSVILLE, MD:
I just wanted to organize all of the suggested moves the Asked and Answered general managers have submitted, so that you can compile them and submit them to Kevin Colbert and/or Mike Tomlin. Of course, first comes moving Ryan Shazier to safety. Then, we have to re-sign Karlos Williams as a cornerback. Williams will need help on the other side, so obviously we'll trade David DeCastro for Richard Sherman next. Finally, we sign Adrian Peterson and trade Le’Veon Bell to Jacksonville. We can use their No. 4 overall pick on our newly open spot at inside linebacker. Maybe Reuben Foster? Then we can use our No. 30 overall pick on a quarterback to sit on the bench for the next three years.

ANSWER: You forgot about moving Al Villanueva to wide receiver because he’s tall and played the position at West Point, and then moving Sammie Coates to cornerback because he’s tall and will be able to match up with the tall receivers around the NFL that the Steelers would no longer have after moving him to cornerback.

BRIAN KNOPSNYDER FROM BEDFORD, PA:
I get tired of people singing your praises on this sight. In my opinion you're tolerable at best. Do you think people just "kiss up" to you to get their question posted on this site?

ANSWER: No. I see them as being discerning readers who are excellent judges of quality journalism, a group to which you obviously do not belong.




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