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Asked and Answered: Game Day Week 10

Posted Nov 12, 2017

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

INDIANAPOLIS – Let’s get to it:

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Steelers will be wearing their white jerseys for today’s game against the Colts.

BOB BLOCHER FROM CARROLLTON, TX
Didn't James Harrison own the longest pass play in Steelers' history?

ANSWER: Two things: James Harrison’s play was an interception return, and because it’s a defensive play that is not in the same category as a pass reception, which is an offensive play. Also, Harrison’s 100-yard interception return for a touchdown came in Super Bowl XLII, and while that makes it more significant in my mind, team records typically only encompass plays made during the regular season. Playoffs, the postseason, are a different category. But the basis for the Harrison play not counting among the longest pass receptions in franchise history is that it was an interception and not a pass reception.

DAVID VENERSKY FROM LAS CRUCES, NM:
I’m wanting the Steelers to be a little more conscious of the fact that they have lost the last three games after a bye week. I feel it would bode well to be aware of this and not fall into that trap yet again. That’s assuming I’m correct. I can’t recollect where I read it. If so, what are your feelings on this issue?

ANSWER: Your assumption, if I’m reading into this correctly, is that there was some kind of lax attitude coming out of the bye the last three seasons, and that’s quit an assumption on your part. One of those losses coming out of the bye was in Seattle when the Steelers lost Ben Roethlisberger to an injury and had to finish with Landry Jones. Winning in Seattle is extremely difficult, whether a team is coming off its bye or not. Another of those losses came in Baltimore, and my response to you regarding that is losing there isn’t necessarily attributable to a team coming in and lacking focus, because that’s what I believe your contention is. You’re wanting the “Steelers to be a little more conscious of the fact that they have lost the last three games after a bye week.” I’m wanting fans to look beyond their preconceived notions and understand some of the realities of competition in the NFL.

BRETT CURRY FROM BUDA, TX:
In the new pass-happy NFL, I believe Artie Burns and Joe Haden are the most talented cornerback tandem the Steelers have ever had. Do you agree? If you don't, who would you say we're more talented?

ANSWER: I also am a big fan of the Steelers current cornerback tandem of Joe Haden and Artie Burns, but let’s try to keep things in perspective. You want me to give you a  better tandem? How about Mel Blount and whoever was lining up on the opposite side of the field? Blount was so dominant that he forced the NFL to change the rules. Let’s not forget that.

BARRY BUCK FROM PORTLAND, ME:
Will the Steelers be wearing throwback jerseys this year?

ANSWER: One final time: No throwbacks this season. The Steelers will wear their color rush uniforms for the game against the Titans on Thursday, Nov. 16 at Heinz Field.

BRIAN BOYCE FROM SPRINGBORO, PA:
In the Nov. 8 installment of Asked and Answered, you replied that players get a meal allowance at road games. Is there a regulated cap on the allowance to prevent teams from giving a player a $5,000 a game meal allowance to sneak around the official salary cap?

ANSWER: The per diem paid to players is determined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

THOMAS FUDENS FROM MIDDLE ISLAND, NY:
For road games is there a curfew the night before, and for home games. does the team stay at a hotel?

ANSWER: Yes there is a curfew. Yes, the Steelers stay at a hotel on the night before home games, and there is a curfew at the hotel on the night before home games, too.

DAVID OROCHENA FROM POTOMAC, MD:
You mentioned in a previous Asked and Answered that there are only two Steelers offensive linemen in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Isn't there technically three since Walt Kiesling also played on the offensive line in 1937-38 for the Steelers?

ANSWER: The actual question had to do with my opinion on the best offensive lineman in Steelers history, and I used election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a way of weeding down the number into something that was manageable. Walt Kiesling spent the final two of his 13 seasons as an NFL offensive lineman with the Steelers, but by the time he got to Pittsburgh – in 1937, by the way – he was well past his prime as a player. Kiesling also spent 25 years in the NFL as a coach or an aide, with seven of those as the Steelers coach. While Kiesling did coach the Steelers to their first winning season in the NFL, he also was the guy who cut John Unitas without even giving him a chance to practice at training camp. You can remember Kiesling as a Hall of Fame offensive lineman, but how I will remember him is as the coach who cut the greatest quarterback in NFL history without ever giving him a chance to practice.

RANDY MARSHALL FROM LANCASTER, PA:
I love Mike Sage's question about offensive linemen, and more so surprised to realize that only Mike Webster and Dermontti Dawson have been honored by the Hall of Fame. Surely this will be a great position for the Steelers to honor internally with the new Hall of Honor. Curious, based on eligibility criteria, will Carlton Haselrig be eligible?

ANSWER: Based on eligibility requirements for players, which mandates having spent a minimum of three seasons with the Steelers, Carlton Haselrig is eligible for election to the Hall of Honor.

OSMIN VILLATORO FROM LOS ANGELES, CA:
I know you're probably tired of being asked about the whole Martavis Bryant situation, but why do you think he was inactive for abuse of social media if he just answered a question, unlike Antonio Brown's recording and posting it last year? I personally think that Antonio Brown's actions had the potential to do more damage to the locker room than Bryant's words. Am I missing something here?

ANSWER: You are correct. I have grown weary of answering the many various questions posed about what you refer to as the Martavis Bryant situation. You are entitled to your opinion of its severity vs. the severity of Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live last season after the win over the Chiefs in Kansas City, but the difference was that Bryant said some unflattering things about a teammate during his misuse of social media. That was the difference. Also, the Steelers aren’t even in the playoffs last season if not for the play Brown made in the final seconds of the victory over the Ravens on Christmas Day. And when it comes to being a good coach in the NFL, in my mind, it’s not about treating all the players equally but it’s about treating all the players fairly. Bryant was made inactive for a game; Brown was fined, and not a small amount.

HOWARD ASHCRAFT FROM LANSING, MI:
When the Steelers are scouting a player, do they send different scouts and then compare notes?

ANSWER: The Steelers divide the pool of draft eligible players into groups, depending upon their talent level. When they get to the “A” players, just about every one of those guys is graded by two scouts, and some of them are graded by more than two scouts. Then all of that information is combined, and the team then places a “Steelers grade” on the player, and that is how the player is placed on the team’s final draft board.

WILLIAM MAHIESON FROM KANSAS CITY, MO:
With the growing anger from players toward Thursday night games, would there ever be a possibility of a forfeit? If the Steelers have a comfortable lead in the AFC North Division and Coach Mike Tomlin decided it wasn’t worth the injuries that seem to come out of the short week, could the team decide to pass? What would be the repercussions from the NFL?

ANSWER: The Steelers would NEVER forfeit a game. Never. Ever. That goes against everything the franchise stands for, and it goes against everything the Rooney family believes. I personally was in attendance during meetings when Dan Rooney would tell everyone in the room that the Steelers were in the football business, and that Job 1 in the football business was to win games. There is no quitting. There is no playing for a better draft pick. You even suggesting the Steelers would forfeit a game to avoid potential injuries indicates to me that you know nothing about the principles on which this franchise was founded.

DON SMYRL FROM LIBERTY, UT:
I love the way Ryan Shazier goes after the ball, but I am concerned about him being injured, due to his smaller size. Has anyone considered putting him at strong safety, a la Troy Polamalu? His quickness, genius football sense, and aggressiveness would seem to be implemented better with this methodology in mind.

ANSWER: Ah, an oldie but a goodie. Welcome to the party.




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