Let's get to it:
KEN CHRISTY FROM KNOXVILLE, TN: I saw somewhere that Chuck Noll was the NFL's last fulltime two-way player, playing on the offensive line and the defensive line. Is it true?
ANSWER: During his 7-year career as a player with the Cleveland Browns, Chuck Noll played both linebacker and guard, and his career ended after the 1959 season. Chuck Bednarik played 14 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, many as a center and linebacker, and during his penultimate season of 1961 he played both center and middle linebacker. Both Noll and Bednarik were two-way players at times during their respective careers, but it seems as though Bednarik did it later because his career lasted a bit longer.
JOE SCHMAELING FROM CARNEGIE, PA: Recently, you were asked a question about Josh Dobbs and whether the Steelers might have any interest in him. You dismissed the idea. I don't understand why. Since both Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph are almost certainly leaving, why not give Dobbs a look?
ANSWER: Why are Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph "almost certainly leaving?" Rudolph can become an unrestricted free agent in March, and since he will be in control of his own status, I understand that he might explore other options with other teams. But Trubisky is under contract for 2023, and while that contract calls for him to be paid $8 million and carry a $10.6 million cap hit in 2023, those numbers aren't ridiculous when they're added into a position where Kenny Pickett will be in the second year of his four-year rookie contract. If it were my decision, I would rather have Trubisky as the backup than Josh Dobbs.
VINCE SCOTTI FROM COLUMBIA, SC: With two meaningless wins over other bottom feeders (Saints and Falcons) we have dropped from a very early drafting position in the 2023 draft to where we usually are, the middle of the pack or worse. Am I wrong to wish for them to lose a few more?
ANSWER: Winning becomes a habit, and so does losing, and so I believe teams must be very, very careful about teaching players that there are occasions where it's OK not to try your hardest to win every game on the schedule, either purposefully or by subliminal messaging. And one final thing: the Steelers' 1974 draft – the one that added four Hall of Fame players over the first five rounds plus another in the group of undrafted rookies signed immediately after – is the greatest haul of talent in the history of professional sports drafting in my opinion. In 1974, the NFL was made up of 26 teams. In the 1974 NFL Draft, the Steelers had the 21st overall pick.
GERRY MANDERING FROM SCALP LEVEL, PA: Rookie training camp holdouts used to be common - but I haven't heard of any recently. Can you explain why rookies are signing without holding out?
ANSWER: A couple of Collective Bargaining Agreements ago, the NFL and the NFLPA decided that paying huge sums to unproven rookies didn't make any sense, and so things such as the rookie salary cap and the slotting system were adopted in order to redistribute more money to proven players instead. As a result, for the most part there is an incremental raise for drafted rookies from one year to the next, and those payday bonanzas became a thing of the past.
GORD BEILBY FROM TINY, ONTARIO, CANADA: What is the guard doing just before the snap when he either touches the center or points straight ahead? Does this not give the defense a heads-up that the snap is going to happen?
ANSWER: That motion by the guard activates the silent count, which is utilized in situations where crowd noise inhibits the players from hearing the quarterback's snap count. Since the silent count still could call for the ball to be snapped on "one" or "two," the defense may have some indication the snap is going to happen, but it doesn't know necessarily exactly when the snap is going to happen. Teams have come to believe the defense having some idea of the timing of the snap is better than the offense having no idea of the timing of the snap.
IAN WEST FROM ANNAPOLIS, MD: I believe Baltimore has an advantage over most of the other NFL teams due to its unique style of play. So, what is the Ravens' record in the division during the 2020, 2021, and 2022 seasons?
ANSWER: In 2020, the Ravens were 4-2 within the AFC North, with both losses to the Steelers; in 2021, they were 1-5 within the AFC North, and 0-2 vs. the Steelers; and to this point in 2022, the Ravens are 2-0 within the AFC North, with four games to play, including the home-and-home vs. the Steelers.
GARY CAMPBELL FROM ROSWELL, GA: My 7-year-old grandson who is a Steelers fan, would like to know when the team last wore its bumblebee throwback jerseys?
ANSWER: They last wore those jerseys on Oct. 9, 2017, in a 31-13 victory over the New York Jets.
MARTIN HAUSER FROM STEUBENVILLE, OH: There are many who have ceded the possibility of a playoff season this year. They are likely correct. They also would rather "lose out" the remaining games to solidify a higher draft position. I am of the opinion that this thinking promotes a general losing mentality. How do you feel?
ANSWER: I agree with you, and Dan Rooney and Art Rooney II share the same opinion, as have Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher, and Mike Tomlin. In fact, I am rather comfortable in pointing out that had any of those three coaches not had the same belief regarding the importance of playing to win every game every season, they would not have been hired to be the Steelers coach, or if they had been hired, they wouldn't have held the job as long as they did/have.
BOB GRANDEY FROM SAN JOSE, CA: In the past 3 years, in how many games have the Steelers been outscored in the second half? What is their record in those games?
ANSWER: Starting with the 2020 season, the Steelers were outscored in the second half on Sept. 20 vs. Denver, 18-9, and won the game; on Oct. 25 at Tennessee, 17-3, and won the game; on Dec. 7 vs. Washington, 20-3, and lost the game; and on Dec. 13 in Buffalo, 17-8, and lost the game. During the 2021 season, the Steelers were outscored in the second half on Sept. 19 vs. Las Vegas, 17-10, and lost the game; on Sept. 26 vs. Cincinnati, 10-3, and lost the game; on Oct. 3 in Green Bay, 10-7, and lost the game; on Oct. 10 vs. Denver, 13-10, and won the game; on Oct. 17 vs. Seattle, 20-6, and won the game in overtime; on Nov. 8 vs. Chicago, 24-15, and won the game; on Nov. 28 in Cincinnati, 10-7, and lost the game; on Dec. 26 in Kansas City, 13-10, and lost the game; and on Jan. 16 in Kansas City during the Wild Card Round, 21-14, and lost the game. So far in 2022, the Steelers were outscored in the second half in Cincinnati, 14-3, and won the game in overtime; on Sept. 22 in Cleveland, 16-3, and lost the game; on Oct. 9 in Buffalo, 7-0, and lost the game; on Oct. 30 in Philadelphia, 14-3, and lost the game; on Nov. 20 vs. Cincinnati, 20-10, and lost the game; on Nov. 18 in Indianapolis, 14-8, and won the game; and on Dec. 4 in Atlanta, 10-3, and won the game.
To summarize, the Steelers were outscored in the second half in four games in 2020 and were 2-2 in those games; in 2021 they were outscored in the second half of nine games and were 3-6 in those games; and so far in 2022 the Steelers have been outscored in the second half of seven games and are 3-4 in those games. The total: Since the start of the 2020 season and through the first 12 games of 2022, the Steelers have been outscored in the second half of 20 games and are 8-12 in those games.