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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Aug. 11

Let's get to it:

STEPHEN CUPRZYNSKI FROM COCKEYSVILLE, MD: Was Chuck Noll the architect of the "Steel Curtain" defense? Who were the defensive coaches at the time?
ANSWER: The "Steel Curtain" originally was the nickname for the front four made up of tackles Joe Greene and Ernie Holmes, plus ends L.C. Greenwood and Dwight White. As the head coach, Chuck Noll was the architect of everything done on the field from the time he was hired in 1969. While Greene was a known commodity throughout the organization leading up to the 1969 NFL Draft, it was Bill Nunn who scouted and presented Greenwood (an undersized defensive end) from Arkansas AM&N and Dwight White (another undersized defensive end) from East Texas State to Noll with the idea of emphasizing athleticism over bulk along the defensive line. Dan Radakovich, the team's defensive line coach in 1971, shared Nunn's vision, and when Noll liked what he saw of Greenwood and White, and when Ernie Holmes was added as an eighth-round choice from Texas-Southern in the 1971 NFL Draft, the personnel for the original Steel Curtain had been put together. Holmes didn't play a game for the Steelers in 1971, and in 1972 veteran Ben McGee was the starting defensive tackle alongside Greene. When the Steel Curtain (Greene and Holmes at tackle, and Greenwood and White at end) ultimately was put together for the 1973 season, Bud Carson was the defensive coordinator, George Perles was the defensive line coach, and Woody Widenhofer was a defensive assistant who also worked with the linebackers.

SEAN DELANEY FROM GARDNER, MA: The 7-Shots drill has become a training camp staple. For those of us unable to watch it live in Latrobe, how do they conduct this drill without pads? Practice etiquette must reduce the violence between the offensive and defensive linemen and eliminate called running plays. I also saw a report stating Nick Herbig forced a fumble while wearing shells. How do you do that without hitting someone?
ANSWER: In all practices – padded, padless – you will see defensive players reach in and try to pop the ball loose from the player carrying it or catching it. That certainly doesn't violate practice etiquette, and during padless practices most of the plays called during 7-Shots are passes.

KHARI CLEMMONS FROM MCALPIN, FL: With Kendrick Green beginning to get reps at fullback, because he wears No. 53, does he have to report to the referee as eligible each play if he's lined up in the backfield?

PAUL KAMMERMEIER FROM BLOOMFIELD, NY: I know July depth charts don't mean much, but Diontae Johnson must be surprised to find he doesn't appear on it anywhere.
ANSWER: You may be surprised to know that in fact Diontae Johnson is listed on the depth chart. If you consult the depth chart currently appearing on, or the depth chart that accompanied Dale Lolley's story on the release of that depth chart you will see clearly that his name is listed on the top line as a starting wide receiver.

KEITH MILLER FROM CANTON, NC: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Cam Hayward, T.J. Watt, and Patrick Peterson – four realistic Pro Football Hall of Fame candidates. Any other time in Steelers history have there been four such players on the team at one time?
ANSWER: Is this some kind of a joke, or are you really that young, or naïve? When the Steelers reported to Saint Vincent College for training camp in 1975, they had Joe Greene, Franco Harris, Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Mel Blount, and Donnie Shell on the roster. By my count, that's 9 players who went on to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Nine is more than four.

DAVE KITLAK FROM UHRICHSVILLE, OH: With the change to roster cuts, with no cuts mandated until Aug. 29 when rosters must be reduced to 53 players, do you think there will still be a gradual whittling down or will there just be a massive player dump?
ANSWER: The Steelers final preseason game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 24, in Atlanta, and I expect the team to carry the full complement of 90 players (or close to it) for that game, because it will allow Coach Mike Tomlin a lot of options when it comes to completing the game without being forced to use too many front-line players late into that finale. There may be some cuts after the game and before the mandatory deadline of 4 p.m. on Aug. 29, but I would expect most of the roster cuts throughout the league to be made very close to the day of the deadline.

THOMAS WARD FROM LADSON, SC: I've seen some other NFL teams mentioning throwback uniforms this season, and about a month or so ago I asked if the Steelers would consider the throwbacks with the yellow helmets and white pants. Any chance we could see those uniforms again?
ANSWER: I have seen or heard of no plans for the Steelers to wear that uniform combination in 2023.

PAUL PYSH FROM BROOKVILLE, PA: What makes Vallozzi's pizza the best in Westmoreland County?
ANSWER: If I had to pinpoint one reason, it would be the crust.

DAVE ROMERO FROM FORT WORTH, TX: Do players on the yearly "NFL Top 100" receive any compensation for being on the list?
ANSWER: Not from the Steelers.

TYRONE LANDRUM FROM STATEN ISLAND, NY: How often does the organization invite Veterans? My Dad is currently serving and is a very fond Steelers fan. I would love to surprise him with attending a few games. Can you and the organization assist me?
ANSWER: The Steelers' arrangement with hosting members of the military are made through the Pittsburgh area Veterans Associations.

GENE MADEC FROM GROTON, CT: Will L.C. Greenwood and Dwight White ever be considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame? In my opinion they should both be inducted.
ANSWER: The way the procedure works for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame begins with nomination, and from that point the Hall of Fame Selection Committee whittles the list of nominees down over the course of several votes until the process reaches the point of the level of "finalist." Then that list of finalists is brought into the room where the Selection Committee then debates the merits of each candidate. The end of the debate then is followed by a vote, which determines the winners who make up a particular class for induction. The following is a description of that process, according to

"A nomination is NOT a vote for election. The Hall of Fame's Selection Process includes multiple steps in which the nominees are scrutinized. The Hall facilitates the procedure of three successive reviews of increasing scrutiny with the 50-person Selection Committee. The first is a vote to reduce the long list of Modern-Era Player Nominees (typically around 120) to 25 Semifinalists, followed by a later vote to reduce to 15 Finalists. At the annual meeting shortly before the Super Bowl, the Finalists are scrutinized even further by the Selectors, who after a thorough discussion of each Finalist, reduce the list from 15 to 10 and then 10 to 5. At that point, the five remaining Finalists are voted on for election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on a yes-or-no basis. A minimum positive vote of 80 percent is necessary for election."

I can assure you that both L.C. Greenwood and Dwight White at some point were nominated during the time there were considered Modern-Era Players, which means their names were included in the beginning of the process just described. That means they both were considered, but they never advanced far enough in the process to be elected. At this point, both Greenwood and White would fall into the Seniors category, and it is much more difficult to get elected to the Hall of Fame via that route.

DAN VECCHIONE FROM PHILADELPHIA, PA: I noticed on the 2023 Steelers regular season schedule that two games have "TBD" in the date section. I was hoping you could explain why the date of these two specific games are listed as to be determined.
ANSWER: The reason why games later in the regular season are being listed as TBD has to do with the league's interest in providing the best time slots/matchups for its many broadcast partners. We have seen the TBD designation for the final game of the regular season for several years now, because Commissioner Roger Goodell decided to make every effort to avoid having teams with nothing at stake playing in games during the prime television slots, or having teams being eliminated from contention before their games kicked off. It's all about television, and I suspect we may be seeing more of this in future seasons.