Let's get to it:
BOB LOUGHRY FROM AUSTIN, TX: In the game vs. the Ravens, after Kenny Pickett got hurt, the backup was obviously Mitch Trubisky. However, the game's announcers mentioned that in the event that Trubisky got hurt, Zach Gentry would be the emergency quarterback. I'm wondering that if Mason Rudolph is there on the sidelines looking healthy but not in uniform, why can't he simply go into the locker room and suit up? Or did I miss something?
ANSWER: Another one of those pesky rules getting in the way again. NFL rosters consist of 53 players, but not all of those players are allowed to be in uniform on game day. NFL rules allow for 46 players to be in uniform on game day, and only the players in uniform on game day can play in the game that day. NFL coaches typically dress two quarterbacks for a game, and so on Dec. 11, the Steelers two quarterbacks in uniform were Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky. Mason Rudolph was inactive, but he is allowed to be on the sideline in street clothes. What he wasn't allowed to do was "suit up."
MIKE PAZSINT FROM NEW CASTLE, PA: What was Ben Roethlisberger's interception record? And Terry Bradshaw's? Fans, receivers, and media complained that Mitch Trubisky didn't push the ball downfield early in the season, and once he did so vs. the Ravens, several big plays were made. Cue the fans cheering, but alas, then came the interceptions and the fans moaning.
ANSWER: Terry Bradshaw attempted 3,901 passes during his career, and he finished with 212 touchdowns and 210 interceptions, for an interception percentage of 5.4. Ben Roethlisberger attempted 8,443 passes during his career, and he finished with 418 touchdowns and 211 interceptions, for an interception percentage of 2.5. In 2022, Trubisky's only season with the Steelers, he has attempted 158 passes, with 4 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and an interception percentage of 3.2.
CRAIG BROWN FROM ROARING SPRING, PA: What do you see as the future for Mason Rudolph? Will he be a free agent after this year, and do you think the Steelers will attempt to keep him. I personally liked him and believe the Steelers would have been better with him as the backup and invested the money spent on Mitch Trubisky elsewhere.
ANSWER: Mason Rudolph can become an unrestricted free agent in March 2023, and at this time I cannot imagine a realistic scenario in which he doesn't decide to seek an opportunity with another team, maybe not necessarily for more money but for an opportunity to play and compete for a role on the team other than being the No. 3 quarterback. As for the rest of your submission, it's 100 percent hindsight. When the Steelers signed Mitch Trubisky in free agency, they were not guaranteed the opportunity to draft Kenny Pickett. So, with no Trubisky signed during free agency, and if they didn't have a chance to draft Pickett, you would've been fine with handing the starting job to Rudolph? I don't believe that for a second.
JASON CHALFANT FROM DETROIT, MI: Do you think it would be wise to cut Derek Watt and use Conner Heyward as a fullback/tight end? And why aren't there two-way punters/placekickers out there to do both to save roster spots for other positions?
ANSWER: I do not think it would be wise to cut Derek Watt, especially not now with four regular season games left. Finding a bigger role for Connor Heyward has nothing to do with Watt's spot on the 53-man roster, and Watt also has value as a core special teams player. The reason there aren't more punters/placekickers in the NFL is that those are two separate jobs that require two separate sets of skills. Kind of like why there aren't more centers/long-snappers, or more electricians/plumbers, or more dentists/cardiologists, because while it would be convenient to get a root canal and have open heart surgery at the same place, you might find it better to make a second trip and have things done right.
DAVID PEPPER FROM LINCOLNSHIRE, UK: Against the Ravens, I thought we might have gone for the onside kick given the time remaining in the fourth quarter. Given the recent rule changes on onside kicks, has this reduced the likelihood of success to a point where they are not worth trying?
ANSWER: The rules changes have made onside kicks a last resort, in my opinion, and the other factor in that particular instance vs. the Ravens was the Steelers had three timeouts remaining – two of their own, plus the 2-minute warning. Had the Steelers defense gotten a three-and-out, the Ravens would have been punting at the 2-minute warning, and that would have been plenty of time for the offense in a situation where you only need a field goal to win.
RAYMOND GONZALES FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: In your opinion which five offensive linemen were the best players for the Steelers?
ANSWER: I would go with (in alphabetical order) Larry Brown, Dermontti Dawson, Alan Faneca, Jon Kolb, and Mike Webster.
JAKE PALMER FROM JACKSON, WY: I feel bad for players who don't have family in the Pittsburgh area during this time of year. Does the team organize holiday gatherings for players without family in the area?
ANSWER: Every year, the Steelers host a Christmas party for all players, coaches, and staff that's usually held about 10 days before Christmas. At the party there are food and beverages, plus there's an appearance by Santa who distributes presents to the children in attendance, and the team photographer is there to take photos of everything that then are made available to the players' families.
BILL BROWN FROM SUFFOLK, VA: I remember watching an NFL game on TV that had no announcers. Is my memory correct, and if so, has it been considered again?
ANSWER: The only NFL game televised without announcers was played on Dec. 20, 1980, and it had the 8-7 Miami Dolphins hosting the 3-12 New York Jets with the broadcast on NBC. It was the regular season finale, and both teams had been eliminated from the playoffs. The idea was the brainchild of NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer, who explained his thinking recently to ESPN. "Here we had this dog of a game," said Ohlmeyer. "Part of my thinking was what could we possibly do to get fans to watch this? People could follow a game with pictures, graphics, and hearing the PA announcer in the background."
Ohlmeyer's characterization of the game as "a dog" apparently was shared by the ticket-buying public, because the attendance was 41,854, and capacity at the Orange Bowl was 72,319. The Jets won, 24-17, and there have been no more games televised without announcers. As for whether the stunt boosted the ratings, Ohlmeyer told ESPN, "It certainly did a much better [ratings] number for us than that dog deserved."
TODD GOODING FROM PORTAGE, MI: If my memory serves me right, and I'm still a few bricks shy of a load, I believe the Steelers used to stay in a hotel on the night before home games. Is this accurate, and do the Steelers still stay in a hotel on nights prior to home games?
ANSWER: All NFL teams have players and coaches, plus select necessary staff, stay in a hotel prior to home games.
DEREK LEWIS FROM POINT MARION, PA: What is the status of the cornerback we acquired from the Washington Commanders? Has he played in any games since he was added to the team?
ANSWER: Williams Jackson III is on injured reserve. He has not appeared in any games for the Steelers.
MÖHRMANN CHRISTIAN FROM WOLFESBURGH, GERMANY: Just a hilarious segment of Asked and Answered on Dec. 15, with all of the inquiries about the tickets that can't be given away. If Mr. Molinaro can't decide who is going to benefit, I'll throw my hat into the ring, too. But please tell him to be fast in his decision because I have to fly over from Germany. Made me laugh all day long. Relax people, it's just football.
ANSWER: As the slogan on the T-shirt reads: "It's not football. It's Steelers football."
GREGORY MOORE FROM WILMINGTON, NC: As someone who drove from Wilmington, North Carolina, to watch the 2016 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens game on Christmas Day, last week's Steelers Nation outpouring of love to Michael Molinaro from Gahanna, Ohio, brought a smile to my face. My wife and I planned our entire Christmas around that 2016 game, and our reward was watching our beloved Steelers score a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds. Ben Roethlisberger's pass to Antonio Brown, who reached and stretched the ball over the goal line not only won the game, but it also put the Steelers into the playoffs while knocking the Ravens out of contention for the postseason. All of which was well worth the price of admission. I grew up 45 minutes south of Pittsburgh (straight down I-79), but this game was my first live NFL experience, and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to top it. We were a bit cold, but that Christmas Day game gave me and my wife a lifelong memory. I cannot say the same for any other of the 42 Christmas Days that I've experienced.
ANSWER: Ho! Ho! Ho!
GEORGE BASSETT FROM LAGUNA WOODS, CA: I don't care what anyone says – please continue to "drink and be cranky!" Off-the-wall comments and questions are what drive your segments forward. Kudos for a fabulous Asked and Answered on Dec. 15.
ANSWER: I'll do my best.