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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: April 16

Let's get to it:

CHUCK MILLER FROM GREEN ISLAND, NY: I heard that at one point in time the Steelers actually played a game against the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts. Can you tell me about how this game came about, and whether it was played under NFL rules, or did the Steelers have to follow the CFL rules of 12 men on the field, 3 downs, 110-yard field, etc.?
ANSWER: Steelers vs. Argonauts was played on Aug. 3, 1960, and it was a preseason game for the Steelers and an in-season exhibition for the Argonauts, because the NFL regular season had yet to begin and the CFL regular season already was underway. The purpose of the game was simple: sell tickets and generate revenue. From 1950-61 the NFL would play games vs. CFL opponents, and during that 11-year span there were 7 games played. As for Steelers-Argonauts, the game was played on a CFL field in Toronto, and the rules were Canadian Football League rules, including 12 players on the field and three downs to get a first down. The game attracted 23,000 paying customers, which was around two-thirds capacity for the venue.

During the teams' respective regular seasons in 1960, the Steelers finished 5-6-1 and the Argonauts were 10-4, but in that head-to-head meeting there was little doubt about which was the superior team. The Steelers led at halftime, 33-6, on the way to a 43-16 victory, and that dominance on the scoreboard was reflected in the dominance of the statistics. The Steelers led in first downs, 21-14; rushing yards, 72-48; and passing yards, 421-168. Steelers quarterback Bobby Layne completed 20-of-36 passes for those 421 yards, including touchdowns of 41 and 61 yards to receiver Buddy Dial, and 51 yards to tight end Preston Carpenter. Halfback Tom Tracy had a 40-yard run for another touchdown. So dominant were the Steelers that they were able to overcome 6 turnovers (4 interceptions thrown by Layne and 2 lost fumbles) with 5 takeaways of their own that came via 3 interceptions of Argonauts quarterback Tobin Rote and 2 fumble recoveries.

KEVIN WEST FROM MT. UNION, PA: Antonio Brown said recently that he'd come back to Pittsburgh and play for free if they'd let him wear No. 86. Now I know that sounds crazy and it's total nonsense, but could any NFL player play for free if he wanted to?
ANSWER: Every NFL player has to be paid according to the provisions in the Collective Bargaining Agreement regarding minimum salaries based on years of service in the league. That player could donate his salary to charity and effectively "play for free," but he would not be allowed to be unpaid, and whatever his salary would be as defined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement would be assessed to his team's salary cap.

LARRY HALL FROM AUSTIN, TX: With the strength of certain position groups in this year's draft (offensive tackle, wide receiver, cornerback) and these being some of the "glaring" needs for the team, can you see any real possibility the Steelers trade down in either of the first two rounds for more draft capital?
ANSWER: The "trading down for more draft capital" concept is a popular one and sounds good in theory, but making it work is complicated. Any trade down for one team must be accompanied by a trade up by another team, and trading up in either the first or second rounds can come at a cost nobody wants to pay. And the other issues involved – such as how far down to trade without losing out on a particular caliber of player – can serve as a deterrent as well.

MIKE BRUDER FROM FAIRVIEW PARK, OH: I was wondering when a new coordinator is hired, when are they allowed to hand out their playbook to the team?
ANSWER: In the case of Arthur Smith, who was hired after the 2023 regular season, the first opportunity to hand out "playbooks" was on April 15, which was the start of the offseason program.

CARTER NIELSEN FROM SCHLESWIG, IA: There is a lot of talk about the Steelers trying to trade for a big name receiver, but if the trade doesn't work out, do you see the Steelers taking a wide receiver in the draft?
ANSWER: Absolutely. Maybe two.

DAVID POLLARD FROM WARRINGTON, UK: Another question about the 1976 Steelers season. When Terry Bradshaw was injured and out of action after the Turkey Jones spiking incident, the Steelers started Mike Kruczek in Bradshaw's absence. Kruczek was a rookie, so was there no other quarterback on the roster available to replace Bradshaw?
ANSWER: In 1976, the NFL's in-season roster limit was 43 players, which is 10 players fewer than today, and there also was no such thing as a practice squad then. The Steelers carried only two quarterbacks on their roster in 1976 – Terry Bradshaw and Mike Kruczek.

RICHARD HENRY FROM CHARLOTTE, NC: How many times, and when was the last year the Steelers played an International Game, What time was the game?
ANSWER: The Steelers have played just one regular season International Game in franchise history, and that happened on Sept. 29, 2013, vs. the Minnesota Vikings at Wembley Stadium in London. The Steelers lost, 34-27, in a game that aired at 1 p.m. Eastern time in the United States.

SHAWN BITTNER FROM JACKSONVILLE, NC: I saw that the Steelers signed placekicker Matthew Wright. Do you think he actually has a chance to beat out Chris Boswell, or is he just signed for practice reps during offseason activities and training camp?
ANSWER: The way I view the signing of Matthew Wright is that it's something between a definitive move to replace Chris Boswell and the simple addition of an extra leg for the run-up to the 2024 regular season. The Steelers have used Wright in 7 games over two different seasons when Boswell was injured, and in his time with the team he converted 8-of-9 field goal attempts (88.9 percent) and 7-of-7 PATs. The Steelers are familiar with Wright and Wright is familiar with the Steelers, so should something happen to Boswell he would be a competent and experienced fill-in.

BRIAN ALEXANDER FROM ROCHESTER, NY: I understand the NFL is now going to allow teams to have a third alternate helmet beginning in 2025. Do you know if the Steelers plan to adopt a third helmet?
ANSWER: I do not know if the Steelers have any plans to wear an alternate helmet during the 2025 season, but here are some of the NFL's rules regarding that:

The alternate helmets only can be worn with one of the organization's authorized optional uniforms, such as classic, alternate, or color rush options. Teams must obtain an entire set of alternate color helmets for all players, and those helmets must be the same make, model, and size as each player's primary helmet. All alternate helmets must be made available to all players at the start of training camp and should be the same fit as the player's regular helmet, and at a minimum all alternate helmets must be worn in practice in the week leading up to the game in which they are to be used. Finally, teams must inform the NFL of any desire to wear an alternate helmet for the 2025 season by May 1, 2024.

RON BLASKO FROM MAIDEN, NC: What happens to a season ticket holder's home game ticket(s) if the team has to play that game outside of the United States?
ANSWER: The season ticket holder simply would not be billed for that game's tickets.

KERWIN BROMAN FROM DECATUR, IN: I remember as a kid in the late 1950s or early 1960s watching a Steelers game on television. The team had a punter named Bobby Joe Green. I recall the commentators being impressed by his long punts. Do you know if he was consistent with long punts, or did he just happen to have a good day?
ANSWER: After being drafted in the ninth round of the 1959 NFL Draft by San Francisco out of the University of Florida and failing to catch on with the 49ers, Bobby Joe Green ended up with the Steelers for the 1960-61 seasons. He punted in all 26 regular season games for the team during that time and averaged 45.7 yards per punt. Green only spent two of his 14 NFL seasons with the Steelers, but he still is represented on the list of the franchise's all-time punting records. Green still holds the Steelers' all-time record for career punting average (minimum of 100 punts) at 45.7, as well as the all-time single-season record for punting average, at 47.0 in 1961. His 75-yard punt in 1960 is tied-for-fourth in franchise history for the longest punt. In 1960, Green led the NFL with 64 punts for 2,829 yards.