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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: April 13

Let's get to it:

ITHAN ZIMMER FROM EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ: Did Myron Cope have a role in coining the phrase "Immaculate Reception?"
ANSWER: Allow me to begin with this: Myron Cope was an iconic broadcaster and the inventor of The Terrible Towel, but as Chuck Noll would have said, Myron's life's work was as a writer.

As a writer, Cope's talent put him in the company of the best people Sports Illustrated ever had under contract, and as evidence, Cope's profile of Howard Cosell was selected by Sports Illustrated during its 50th Anniversary as one of the 50 best pieces ever published in the magazine.

Cope also was a regular contributor to the "Saturday Evening Post" and "True, The Man's Magazine," and it was for that latter publication that Cope spent days traveling on a train with Cassius Clay in 1962 to do a profile on a man who would become one of the greatest boxers of all time. Clay won the heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston and then changed his name to Muhammad Ali; Cope's piece won the E.P. Dutton Prize in 1963 for "Best Magazine Sportswriting in the Nation."

So accomplished was Cope as a writer that in 1987, he was named by the Hearst Corporation as a noted literary achiever, along with Mark Twain, Jack London, Frederic Remington, Walter Winchell, and Sidney Sheldon.

And so, for something as historically significant as the origin of "Immaculate Reception," I will defer to Myron Cope himself. The following pertinent passage appeared in Cope's book, "Double Yoi!":

"After the game, I dined with my wife, then drove to Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV studios to deliver a commentary on the game for the 11 o'clock news. Meanwhile, a Steelers fan in his late 20s, Michael Ord, was celebrating Franco's catch at a downtown bar fittingly named The Interlude. Boisterous fans toasted the victory. Ord climbed upon a chair and with a spoon tapped his glass for attention.

"'This day,' he proclaimed, 'will forever be known as the Feast of the Immaculate Reception!'

"Then, to a friend, Sharon Levosky, he suggested, 'Call Myron Cope.'

"When my phone rang in the newsroom, I listened to Sharon's suggestion and said, 'That's fantastic. Let me give it some thought.' The Immaculate Reception? Tasteless? I pondered the matter for 15 seconds and cried out, 'Whoopee?' Having conferred upon Franco's touchdown its name for 11 o'clock news viewers to embrace, I accept neither credit nor, should you hold the moniker to be impious, blame."

CARLY WHITE FROM HAMMOND, LA: Do you think Robert Spillane could be the Steelers starter at inside linebacker alongside Devin Bush next season, or do you think they will try to draft a starter in the draft?
ANSWER: I believe it's far, far more likely that Robert Spillane will be a starting inside linebacker for the Steelers in 2021 than the team will try to replace him in that role with a draft pick.

DARREL LOVING FROM ST. LOUIS, MO: We know Ben Roethlisberger is in the final stages of his career, and so quarterback to me seems to be a big concern on the horizon. Can the Steelers afford to ignore that at this point with the serious need for a running back and an outside linebacker in the upcoming draft?
ANSWER: "Serious needs" always trump "a big concern on the horizon." In effect you answered your own question.

ROY GOLDSMITH FROM LONDON, UK: If I understand the draft process correctly; a number of the top first-round picks will already be "signed up" by teams before the actual event. If so, how do teams know which players are still available before the picks are officially announced?
ANSWER: Based on your question, you do not understand the draft process correctly. There are situations where the top picks have been predicted to go to certain teams and sometimes those predictions are correct, but none of those guys are actually committed to those teams until the Commissioner announces the selections at the podium.

MARY FARR FROM WILLIAMSPORT, PA: If Vince Williams remains unsigned, do you think the Steelers will bring him back for less money as a backup?
ANSWER: Does Vince Williams want to come back to the Steelers for less money as a backup? That, to me, seems like a very important aspect of any such proposed scenario. The Steelers cannot force him to come back. It's free agency in a free country.

CHRIS SAQQAL FROM ALLENTOWN, PA: If the Steelers start off the season really bad, like 0-6, do you think they would bench Ben Roethlisberger and see what they have in Dwayne Haskins and Mason Rudolph?
ANSWER: No. The Steelers play regular season games to win, and they go into each season with the goal of competing for a championship. They absolutely, positively do not believe in kissing off a season(s) to "rebuild," and they certainly don't waste regular season games "to see what they have in" players who weren't good enough to win a starting job.

CASEY MCDONALD FROM HOUSTON, TX: Typically I don't like questions asking if we should sign a certain player, but I'm asking one. John Clayton mentioned former Bengals running back Giovani Bernard as a good fit, suggesting his cost would be low, and he can catch/block pretty well. Do you agree?
ANSWER: I agree with John Clayton's assessment of Giovani Bernard as a player, but I'm not so sure his cost would be low enough to fit under the Steelers' salary cap given the team's situation this offseason. If Bernard would be willing to accept what the Steelers could afford to pay, I think it would be a nice addition to the roster, and Bernard would immediately become their No. 1 third-down back. If, if, if he would be willing at accept what the Steelers could afford to pay, which is no sure thing. (EDITOR'S NOTE: After receiving interest from San Francisco and Seattle, Bernard agreed to a one-year contract with Tampa Bay on Monday night, April 12.)

STEVE SOKOL FROM RAMAT BEIT SHEMESH, ISRAEL: Look closely at the Donnie Shell-Earl Campbell video. Would that hit be legal now? Shell led with his helmet into the midsection of the running back.
ANSWER: I believe it would be legal, because he didn't lead with the crown of his helmet to the head of the opposing player. In that situation, Earl Campbell is a running back and clearly not a defenseless player as he was running the ball up the field between the tackles.

MICHAEL FILAK FROM PLANO, TX: What do you think is the safest position to draft with a top 10 or top 15 pick in the first round to most likely avoid a bust? Conversely, what's the riskiest? Quarterback?
ANSWER: Repeat after me: When it comes to being successful in the NFL Draft, it's not the what but the who. You can say offensive tackle is the safest position to draft to avoid a bust, and I'll give you Tony Mandarich. Tell me the safest position is wide receiver, and I'll give you Charles Rogers. If you tell me quarterback is the riskiest, I'll give you Peyton Manning or John Elway or Andrew Luck. You draft players, not positions.

LANCE BOOMHOWER FROM ANGLETON, TX: In lieu of how some things may play out across the league before the 2021 regular season begins in September, if a player is suspended by the league, do the suspended games count against the salary cap?
ANSWER: If a player is suspended by the NFL and is unavailable for regular season games and therefore would not be paid for those games as a result of that suspension, the money that player would be owed for those games does not count on the team's salary cap.

ROGER HOWARD FROM YORK, PA: In the April 8 installment of Asked and Answered, you wrote: "Nobody wants to kill the golden goose" with respect to the broadcast of the NFL Draft. Does that mean teams get a portion of the broadcast rights fees for the draft?
ANSWER: Absolutely. All monies derived from the broadcast of NFL games and other NFL events are shared by the teams, and then those monies are also shared with the players in the form of a higher salary cap per team.

JASON PRASTER FROM SAN ANTONIO, TX: With the Steelers having a ninth regular season home game this season, will that home game be played in Week 18 of the regular season or is it yet to be determined? And do season ticket holders automatically get that ninth home game ticket or will tickets be available to all fans?
ANSWER: The NFL will announce the dates and times of all of the teams' regular season games at some point around mid-May, and that includes the 17th game for every team. In some situations, the "17th game" could end up being scheduled as an opener, or maybe it ends up as part of the Thanksgiving Day package. There are no restrictions on when that game will be played. And Steelers season ticket holders will be offered a 10-game package in 2021 as they are every year, and this year that package will include one preseason game and nine regular season games. The "17th game" is not being sold separately.

DENNIS SHERIDAN FROM SAN FRANCISCO, CA: For years, I've made submissions through the website but never had my question selected. Since I'm using the form now, my question is: Does this thing even work?
ANSWER: Yes, the form works. Now, don't you wish you had used it for a better question than that?

DAVID BILL FROM CASSVILLE, NJ: If you are asked the player you will take in the first round if available (Najee Harris) one more time, whose head will explode first? Yours or mine?
ANSWER: I'm reserving the "exploding-head reaction" for the next time I get some version of: "If one of the top five quarterbacks starts falling through the first round, should the Steelers make a move to pick him?" Keep reading.

MATHEW TORRES FROM PANORAMA CITY, CA: I've been seeing lots of reports that the Steelers are debating on trading up in the draft to get a quarterback if he falls out of the top 10, but their more important needs reside elsewhere. Is there any possible truth to this?
ANSWER: And one more, David.

KEN WALDROP FROM ONTONAGON, MI: If the Steelers are seeing that Trey Lance isn't taken by pick No. 15 or so, do you see any scenario of Pittsburgh trading up with some team like Miami to grab him? It seems almost like an Aaron Rodgers situation that he shouldn't slide that far. You never know though; he is from a smaller college program and Carson Wentz didn't really work. If anyone slides I think it could be him.
ANSWER: To David Bill from Cassville, NJ: Boom! My head just exploded.

REGINALD TAYLOR FROM WEMBLEY, LONDON, ENGLAND: No question. I just wanted to say that this has been a long 12 months since COVID shut down everything, and I don't know how I would've made it without all of you at providing me some entertainment throughout the week, making me laugh at some of the most hilarious questions. On behalf of the entire fan base, I just want to thank all of you at for all of the hard work you guys pour into this website for the sake of entertainment.
ANSWERS: And thank you for the kind words.