Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: April 3

Let's get to it:

LUIS JANEIRO FROM CHOLULA, PUEBLA, MEXICO:
For me, the Steelers all-time greatest middle linebackers are, in order: Jack Lambert, James Farrior, and Ryan Shazier. What is your list?

ANSWER: For starters, two of the three players on your list were not middle linebackers. James Farrior and Ryan Shazier were/are inside linebackers, and there is a difference. Chuck Noll made the decision to switch to a 3-4 defense for the start of the 1982 season, and thus ended the era in Steelers history when the team had a middle linebacker.

So, I will agree with you on the selection of Jack Lambert, but my second and third middle linebackers on the list would be Myron Pottios and Dale Dodrill.

Let's begin with Dodrill (6-foot-1, 215 pounds), who came to the Steelers as a sixth-round draft choice in 1951 from Colorado A&M. In the NFL terminology of the day, Dodrill often was referred to as a middle guard on defense. In an interview, Dodrill explained his defensive position this way, "But in the early 50s, we ran the 5-1 defense – with five defensive linemen. I was called a guard then – I lined up over the center in the middle of the line. The next year we moved to a 4-3, and I played middle linebacker. So I wasn't a defensive lineman, even though I've been called that." Adding credence to Dodrill's contention that he wasn't a defensive lineman is that he finished his nine-year Steelers career with 10 interceptions. In those nine seasons with the Steelers, Dodrill was voted to four Pro Bowls, and he was selected first-team All-Pro three times – in 1953 and 1955 by United Press International, and in 1954 by the Associated Press.

Myron Pottios was a good player for the Steelers in his day, good enough to catch George Allen's eye. The Steelers' first pick (second round) in the 1961 NFL Draft, Pottios played his first four seasons in the league with Pittsburgh. He played in 41 career games for the Steelers and finished with seven interceptions while earning two trips to the Pro Bowl.

When Allen took over as the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, he immediately made a trade for Pottios, and then Allen also took him to Washington, D.C., when he became head coach of the Redskins in 1971. The 1963 All-NFL team featured three linebackers from Western Pennsylvania – the Steelers' Pottios from Charleroi, the Detroit Lions' Joe Schmidt from Pittsburgh, and the Chicago Bears' Bill George from Waynesburg.

KEVIN WALTERMIRE FROM HAMPTON, VA:
Many, many years from now when Mike Tomlin decides to retire, would the new coach bring in a new scouting department, or do the Steelers maintain the one they have in place?

ANSWER: The Steelers organizational chart is a pyramid, with one man at the top. Long ago, that man was Art Rooney Sr., then it was Dan Rooney, and now it's Art Rooney II. General Manager Kevin Colbert works for Art Rooney II. The trainers work for Art Rooney II.. The scouts work for Art Rooney II. The video guys work for Art Rooney II. Mike Tomlin works for Art Rooney II. If there are going to be changes in the scouting department, in the training room, in the equipment room, in the Asked and Answered room, that's Art Rooney II's call. The head coach cannot fire a trainer, or a video guy, or a scout, or a general manager. And a general manager can't fire a coach.

LOU BOLOGNA FROM HERMITAGE, TN:
I noticed on the current roster on Steelers.com that it lists Cam Hayward as a defensive tackle, along with Dan McCullers. Typo?

ANSWER: No typo. That is by design, based on where those guys typically line up when they're on the field. And the impetus to list the players that way began with Coach Mike Tomlin.

GARY SCOTTON FROM MANTUA, OH:
Do you believe General Manager Kevin Colbert sent Le'Veon Bell a message via the media when he said that Bell's contract was being put on hold for more pressing matters and then scheduled dinner with LSU running back Derrius Guice days later? Do you believe as I do, that was the Steelers way of saying our best offer is on the table, take it or leave it, but either way this game is over?

ANSWER: Kevin Colbert isn't the message-sending type, and what he was verbalizing was the reality of the situation. Once the Steelers had placed the franchise tag on Le'Veon Bell, there was going to be no deadline regarding his situation until 4 p.m. on July 16, which would be the time when a long-term contract had to be signed or the player would have to play 2018 under the franchise tag. There were, however, a bunch of other issues for the Steelers to attend to that had deadlines.

Colleges schedule their Pro Days for a specific time, and so attending those and meeting with players and talking to them, maybe over dinner, has to be done according to that schedule. Free agency had to be attended to, both in terms of getting rid of some guys on the roster for cap purposes and trying to sign some guys before they accepted offers from other teams. Draft preparation, beyond attending the scheduled Pro Days also has deadlines, such as the time period when teams can host up to 30 prospects for pre-draft visits.

The draft will end on April 28, and then after a flurry of undrafted rookie signings and the assemblage of a roster for rookie minicamp, there will be a couple of months left before July 16 to work on the deal with Bell. That's what Colbert was verbalizing.

JIM ZINNA FROM CANAL FULTON, OH:
With all the safety concerns and new rules, why doesn't the NFL just step up and provide top of the line helmets that would solve all the problems? Surely money isn't an issue.

ANSWER: Because that kind of helmet doesn't exist, and the science of concussions has shown that the injury can be sustained not only from a blow to the head but also from a whiplash-type movement of the head. That was a very simplistic explanation of a complicated and multi-layered issue by me, but I hope you catch my drift.

MATTHEW BARISH FROM FLINT, MI:
During the offseason and perhaps during the season as well, star players such as Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant are subject to random tests for illegal substances. Are players who do not have such a history also subjected to these random tests? As someone about the same age as Tom Brady, I am familiar with what Father Time has done to my body, and it seems likely that if I had the money of a Brady, I might be tempted to try anything that would prolong my career.

ANSWER: All NFL players can be tested randomly for performance enhancing drugs throughout the calendar year. Players are tested once per year for illegal drugs, and if they test positive they are put into the NFL's drug program, which then means they are subjected to random testing, as you describe in your question. If a player does not ever test positive during the once-a-year test for illegal drugs, then he only is subjected to such tests once a year.

CJ CAVEZZA FROM CHESAPEAKE, VA:
Have teams ever extended an offer sheet to a restricted free agent they might be interested in just to eat up more salary cap from a competing team?

ANSWER: Ever hear the saying, if you play with fire you're gonna get burned? If a team presents an offer sheet to a restricted free agent in an effort to screw up that other team's salary cap, what if that other team then chooses not to match the offer and takes the draft pick compensation instead? Once a team signs a restricted free agent to an offer sheet, there are no backsies.

VINCE CHIOMA FROM FAIRFAX, VA:
Long time reader, first time writer. Hoping you or my fellow Steelers fans might help. After 30 years of service, the Air Force has decided that my final assignment will be in...ahem...Boston. Before I start blindly navigating enemy territory, can you point out a reliable Steelers bar on the west side of Boston? I might later ask where to live, but hey, first things first, right?

ANSWER: This information comes directly from Mike Hustava, Steelers Nation Unite Marketing Coordinator: "There is bar located southwest of Boston called "Cityside Bar" where a Steelers fan club meets on game days. The bar sits just next to the Boston College campus in Brighton, MA., and Steelers fans gather upstairs to watch the games. More information about this bar, as well as many others, is available in the "Hangouts" section at SteelersNationUnite.com.

JEFF ZAVALA FROM ALTADENA, CA:
Would you take a healthy Kendrell Bell or a healthy Ryan Shazier?

ANSWER: Ryan Shazier. Not. Even. Close.

NICHOLAS CHANEY FROM WASHINGTON, PA:
If Derrius Guice, the running back from LSU, is available at pick No. 28, do you think he should be a consideration, especially with Le'Veon Bell's current contract situation?

ANSWER: How does using a first-round pick on a running back, any running back, help the team win a Super Bowl this year?

BRANDON VAUGHT FROM PEMBROKE, NC:
So I understand that Bell's future with us is bleak at the moment, but why do all the mock drafts have us getting Derrius Guice in the first round? I understand "just in case" but we have James Connor, so why not bolster our secondary with our first pick?

ANSWER: Mock drafts are nothing but click bait, designed to lure people onto some website to read something written by someone who knows less about the Steelers than you do. So, if you fall into that trap, please do not ask me to explain what that individual might be thinking because I have no idea. Just as he has no idea what the Steelers are going to do with their first-round draft pick.


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