Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Dec. 19

Let's get to it:

DONNIE BROWN FROM VAN BUREN, ME: Joe Greene is likely the greatest Steelers player of all time, and also a man I would never cross, so I seek his forgiveness for this question. Did Joe Greene really once attempt to quit the team midseason?
ANSWER: During the time I was helping Dan Rooney by doing some interviews for his book, titled, "Dan Rooney: My 75 Years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL," one of the interviews I was scheduled to do was with Joe Greene. During that interview, Greene was very candid, and this is the story he told me about the latter part of the 1974 NFL regular season: "I remember when we lost to Houston in late November (actually, Dec. 1), and we got beat up pretty good on our home field. I was despondent about it. It was two years removed from the Immaculate Reception when we then lost in the AFC Championship Game in 1972, and then we lost in the first round of the playoffs in 1973. I wanted to be like the Miami Dolphins and the people who were winning. I'll never forget that Monday night after we lost to the Oilers, it was the Dolphins vs. the Cincinnati Bengals (on Monday Night Football), and I watched the whole game. I watched the Dolphins methodically kill them – run the ball (for 196 yards), pass the ball (for 188 yards and two touchdowns), no mistakes, do the things you were coached to do, no penalties. I thought, that's what I want us to be like. I came into our team meeting on Tuesday (at Three Rivers Stadium), and I didn't really like what I was hearing, so I went and cleaned out my locker and walked to my car, which was parked out front. As I was walking, I realized I was doing this, but I really didn't want to do this. (Receivers coach) Lionel Taylor saw me, and he came and sat in the car with me. We talked, and I got it all off my chest in terms of how I thought we should play, and how we were just not doing things the right way, in my mind. It was probably a lot of ranting and raving, but he talked me into coming back. I was happy he did that. I knew I was going to leave, but I didn't want to. I didn't tell anybody; I just did it. When I came back in there, my resolve was more entrenched, and what it manifested itself into was a renewed vigor in practice. What I still recall about that time was how we practiced. Then it just flowed over into the ballgames."

The 1974 Steelers won the final two games of the 1974 regular season to finish 10-3-1, and then in the first round of the playoffs they defeated the Buffalo Bills, 32-14, to set up a trip to Oakland for the AFC Championship Game because the Raiders had defeated the two-time defending champion Miami Dolphins, 28-26. Back to Greene:

"We played Buffalo in the first round of the playoffs, and that's when we really introduced the Stunt 4-3 (defensive alignment). We were desperate to stop O.J. Simpson, who had put up almost 200 yards rushing the last time he played against us. The reason we had been losing in the playoffs was because other teams were running the football on us. Miami did in 1972, and Oakland did it in 1973. It was the commitment that we collectively felt.

"The thing that really, really gave us the impetus and the mind-set, and gave us – as Chuck always said – the refuse-to-be-denied attitude – came on the Monday after we beat Buffalo in the first round of the playoffs in 1974. People on the outside would always hear things like the refuse-to-be-denied attitude and call them a cliché, but to us it was real. But anyway, we were sitting in the (team meeting) room over at the stadium, and Chuck said, 'You know, the coach of the Raiders said the two best teams in football (Miami and Oakland) played yesterday, and that was the Super Bowl.' He said, 'Well, the Super Bowl is three weeks from now, and the best team in pro football is sitting right here in this room.'

"I'm telling you, I think I levitated right out of my seat when I heard that. There was no way that the Raiders were going to beat us. Again, it all came from the consistency of Chuck, because when he said that, it was very un-Chuck-like and that's why it had so much power to it. It was almost like it happened yesterday … I've been in locker rooms since that time when you get all kinds of speeches and platitudes, and they don't mean a thing. All Chuck said was, play the way you've been coached, and that's what developed the consistency in that football team."

CASEY McDONALD FROM MONTGOMERY, AL: Terrell Edmonds seems to get a lot of flak for not making "splash plays," but he seems like a solid player to me. Would you pick up his fifth-year option?
ANSWER: The deadline for exercising the fifth-year option on Terrell Edmunds' rookie contract has passed, and the Steelers declined. The amount the Steelers would have been required to guarantee Edmunds was $6.753 million for the 2022 season. The team never gave a specific reason behind its decision, but I would imagine the lack of splash plays – four interceptions, 18 passes defensed, three sacks, no forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery in 56 NFL starts leading up to today's game against Tennessee – had a good bit to do with the Steelers' decision.

CANOE CHAVEZ FROM GARDEN CITY, ID: I believe Ben Roethlisberger is still playing great football with a young crew on offense and a beat-up defense. I hope he plays a few more years. Has he expressed any interest in a coaching position after he retires? What is the development of Dwayne Haskins, because I feel like he was brought in to take Roethlisberger's place being a former first-round pick?
ANSWER: Ben Roethlisberger never has expressed any interest in a coaching job after he retires, and I personally would be shocked if he had any interest in such a career after he retires as a player. And just because Dwayne Haskins was a first-round pick doesn't mean the Steelers signed him to take Roethlisberger's place as the starting quarterback. So far, Haskins hasn't been able to supplant Mason Rudolph to be Roethlisberger's backup, and so assuming he automatically vault from No. 3 on the depth chart to No. 1 is a stretch.

ADAM STATTI FROM NAPLES, FL: Teams consider many different factors when deciding who to draft. In that process, how much weight is given to field familiarity? In the minds of the Steelers' coaches, would someone like Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett, who has already played many games at Heinz Field, have a leg up on another quarterback with a similar skill-set?
ANSWER: Field familiarity would carry absolutely no weight in a decision whether to draft a player, and I cannot imagine what advantage it might have for a player to know the way to walk from the locker room to the tunnel that leads to the field. The playing surface at Heinz Field is natural grass, and it's re-sodded at least once a year, so it's not even the same grass from one year to the next.

RICHARD HEAD FROM FREDRICK, MD: Are there rules about when the scoreboard and the stadium jumbotrons have to stop the music or the process of whipping up the crowd during games?
ANSWER: This is never an issue for the home team, but the standard is that once the visiting team breaks the huddle, manufactured noise in the stadium is to stop. If it doesn't, and it's a recurring problem, it's not a penalty but I would imagine that team's owner would get a not-so-nice letter from the Commissioner that would include a hefty fine.

TIM WHEELER FROM MELTON MOWBRAY, UK: Having watched the Steeles run defense being abused by running backs in the last few weeks do you ever find yourself wistfully thinking, "I wander what Vince Williams is doing right now?"
ANSWER: I only hope that whatever he's doing, Vince Williams is happy and at peace with his decision to retire from the NFL. A consummate professional during his eight seasons with the Steelers, Williams deserves to be happy and content with this phase of his life.

MICHAEL FILAK FROM PLANO, TX: I believe each team has to play a Thursday night game. I am wondering if the NFL schedule-makers take any of that into account. For instance, Pittsburgh gets the advantage of playing Tennessee after a mini-bye. Then Kansas City gets the advantage and plays the Steelers after a mini-bye. Does the NFL try to balance that out throughout the season?
ANSWER: There are no rules that strictly govern those kinds of things, nor things such as being on the road the weekend after a Monday night game, etc. The NFL does its best to avoid putting teams at a disadvantage, but there is no way to accommodate every team in every situation and still put together the best matchups for the league's network broadcast partners.

LEE YOUNG FROM MECHANICSBURG, PA: I just wanted to thank you for that very detailed information and thorough answer to the difference between the footballs used by the NCAA vs. the ones used in the NFL. That, along with the "prep" various kickers used to use was some of the best reading I've had in years.
ANSWER: Happy you enjoyed it.

JOANNE JENKINS FROM STERLING, AK: I just wanted to give you some kudos for how you answer some of the nonsensical questions you get. You must get a ton of them. I love your perspective and your knowledge of the team's history. You always make sense. Yinzers can be some of the most emotionally driven fans out there, and the whole Kenny Pickett thing is evidence of that. I always look for your writings during the week. Thank you for all you do for us fans.
ANSWER: You're very welcome.