Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Aug. 3

Let's get to it:

CHRIS HANN FROM SARASOTA, FL: Troy Polamalu was one of the most unique superstars to play in the NFL. My favorite play from Polamalu's career was his interception of his ex-college roommate – Carson Palmer – and then returning the ball for a touchdown in which he ran over Palmer at the goal line. What is your favorite big play Troy made in his career?
ANSWER: This is an easy one for me. With 4:24 remaining in the 2008 AFC Championship Game at Heinz Field, Troy Polamalu intercepted a Joe Flacco pass on a third-and-13 and returned it 40 yards for the touchdown that extended the Steelers lead from 16-14 to 23-14 and ultimately propelled the team to a three-game sweep of its hated rival and into Super Bowl XLIII.

CASEY MCDONALD FROM HOUSTON, TX: If you had to choose among Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, Joey Porter, Jason Gildon, James Harrison, or T.J. Watt who would you pick? At first, I wasn't going to add Watt (since he is still playing) but he has been with us longer than Greene, so I included him.
ANSWER: The reason you almost didn't include T.J. Watt is the same reason I am going to eliminate him from the list you provided – his years in a Steelers uniform. The same goes for Kevin Greene, because even though he is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, only three of his 15 NFL seasons haad him playing in Pittsburgh. I also am eliminating Jason Gildon, because while he once was the franchise's all-time sacks leader, he wasn't much of an asset in coverage, which has to be part of the conversation if you're asking me to make this kind of a choice. Forced to choose, I would go with Greg Lloyd, and to support my choice I will refer to a casual conversation I had with Dick LeBeau during his first stint with the Steelers (1992-96). I asked LeBeau, "If you could pick one player you've ever coached around whom to build a defense, who would you pick." I firmly expected LeBeau to name Rod Woodson, but he only thought about it for 15-20 seconds and then said, "Greg Lloyd." When I asked him why, LeBeau answered, "Because he has a no-nonsense approach that permeates the rest of the group." To be fair, LeBeau made that statement before he had coached Joey Porter or James Harrison, but it shows how highly he regarded Lloyd as a player and a leader.

JASON PRASTER FROM SAN ANTONIO, TX: You mentioned in the July 27 edition of Asked and Answered that the position battle most intriguing to you is the cornerback position with James Pierre. In what you've seen thus far in camp, is Pierre looking to overtake the "starter" position from Cam Sutton? I know a depth chart at this time is just players' names on paper, but is Pierre beating out Sutton at the outside cornerback position?
ANSWER: Cam Sutton is a starting cornerback in 2021 for the Steelers, either on the outside opposite Joe Haden or in the slot. The way I see the competition at cornerback, it's not Pierre vs. Sutton; it's Pierre vs. the candidates to replace Mike Hilton as the nickel cornerback, a group that includes Antoine Brooks, Arthur Maulet, and at some point later in the camp/preseason process maybe Tre Norman and others. If Pierre is better than whatever option the Steelers have in the slot, then the decision could be made to move Sutton inside and have Pierre start opposite Haden.

JOE ASHER FROM TAMPA, FL: With Minkah Fitzpatrick, T.J. Watt, and Cameron Heyward all first-team All-Pros and playing on the same defense, what is the most amount of All-Pros our defense has ever fielded?
ANSWER: Cam Heyward, T.J. Watt, and Minkah Fitzpatrick each have been voted first-team All-Pro twice, and the season in which all three made it together was in 2019. When it comes to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, which is the one the NFL recognizes today, there have not been more than three Steelers defensive players voted to the first team in a single year since Chuck Noll was hired in 1969. Other seasons in which three Steelers defensive players were voted first-team Associated Press All-Pro were in 1974, 1975, 1979, and 1994.

JASON PAYLOR FROM BRADDOCK, PA: How are players paid weekly? Say a player signs a contract for $30 million over say six years that includes a signing bonus of $10 million. Does the signing bonus come off the principle?
ANSWER: There can be different elements of the compensation within an NFL contract, and when/if a player ends up receiving that money usually is spelled out in the terms of the deal. Using your example, the $10 million signing bonus would be paid upon signing the contract, and then things such as a roster bonus or a workout bonus would be paid when earned. As for the weekly checks during the regular season, that amount would be based on the amount of base salary stipulated in the player's contract for that particular year. Remember, players are paid their base salaries each week of the regular season, which includes the bye, and so in 2021 that means 18 game checks. So, if a player's base salary for 2021 is $1.8 million, he would receive 18 "game checks" of $100,000 apiece.

CHRIS FARIS FROM CARMICHAEL, CA: If Ben Roethlisberger retires after the 2021 season, our best bet to compete seems to be to have a great defense and not put pressure on his successor. Why shouldn't the team give up a first-round pick for Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, who has requested a trade?
ANSWER: There are at least a couple of reasons: There is no cap space to make that trade now because I doubt Xavien Howard would "accept" a trade without a new contract, and it's iffy sas to whether the Steelers would have enough cap space even to assume the terms of his current deal. And the other reason is that the Dolphins aren't going to part with Howard for a single first-round draft choice.

JOHN COLEMAN FROM HAGERSTOWN, MD: Why does the NFL spread out the bye weeks so much over the course of a season? Why wouldn't the NFL schedule half the teams in the league to have their bye on Week 8 and the other half of the teams in the league to have bye on Week 9?
ANSWER: Handling the bye weeks your way might leave the league's broadcast partners with a sufficient number of games to fill all the available time slots, but the networks are interested in compelling matchups and not just a sufficient number of games to fill slots. I'm not going to state flatly that satisfying the league's broadcast partners is a more important element to constructing the regular season schedule than fairness, but it is an awfully big check each of the 32 teams receives from their share of broadcast revenue every year, and teams not all having the same number of games before and after their bye weeks doesn't qualify as grossly unfair, at least to me.

NICK MITCHELL FROM GLEN-LYON, PA: After the conclusion of this week's Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, what is the total number of Steelers enshrined in the Hall of Fame, and is this most of any NFL team?
ANSWER: As part of its website, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has a page that lists what it refers to as players "who made the major part of their primary contribution" for each NFL team, and according to Hall of Fame, there are 26 Steelers who fit that description. There are only two NFL franchises with more members of the Hall of Fame than the Steelers' 26: the Bears lead with 30, and the Packers are second with 27. The only other franchises with 20 or more members of the Hall of Fame are Dallas (20), Washington (20), and the New York Football Giants (21).

DAVE DENNIS FROM SHARPSBURG, PA: There is no doubt that you have a keen insight into the workings of the Steelers. Would you ever think an opposing team may read your answers to gain info against us?
ANSWER: Before I go to sleep every night, I say a little prayer that the Ravens are reading Asked and Answered and crafting roster moves and game plans based on my "insight."