Asked and Answered

Asked And Answered: Dec. 29

Let's get to it:

EDITOR'S NOTE: Just to make sure, here is what needs to happen for the Steelers to quakify for the playoffs in 2019:
Pittsburgh clinches a playoff berth with:
PIT win plus a TEN loss or tie
PIT tie plus a TEN loss
TEN loss plus an IND win plus an OAK loss or tie
TEN loss plus an IND win, and PIT ties OAK in strength-of-victory tiebreaker, which will happen if ALL of the following teams win: MIN, GB, KC AND MIA

MIKE CLAPPER FROM BEDFORD, PA: Congratulations to T.J. Watt for being voted the Steelers 2019 MVP. It's probably tough for a center, but Mike Webster is my favorite Steelers player of all time. I was curious if he was ever voted the team MVP?
ANSWER: The Steelers first began voting on a team MVP award in 1969, and wide receiver Roy Jefferson was the inaugural winner after a season in which he caught 67 passes for 1,079 yards (16.1 average) and 11 touchdowns during a 14-game season when the Steelers finished 1-13. There have been 54 winners, because the voting ended in a tie in 1988, 2002, and 2005. To answer the question, Mike Webster never was voted Steelers MVP, and the award never was given to an offensive lineman. Over the history of the award, a linebacker has won it 15, times, a wide receiver 14 times, a defensive back eight times, a running back eight times, a quarterback five times, a defensive lineman two times, a tight end once, and a placekicker once.

TONY MODZELEWSKI FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: Do you believe Devlin Hodges will be on a short leash even though Paxton Lynch hasn't played in two years?
ANSWER: The length of the leash notwithstanding, I believe if Coach Mike Tomlin comes to believe the quarterback play against the Ravens is costing the team a chance to win the game, he will make a change at the position.

MICHAEL MCDONALD FROM MOBILE, AL: So, let me get this straight. Are Ryan Switzer and Rosie Nix playing this weekend?
ANSWER: No. Ryan Switzer and Rosie Nix, both of whom were designated to return from the injured reserve list, aren't eligible to play until the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs, provided the Steelers get that far.

KEN LAUGHERY FROM PONTOTOC, MS: I'm shocked and very disappointed. Why did the NFL not include Terry Bradshaw in its top 10 quarterbacks for NFL 100? Do you think he should have been on that list, or did he make some enemies somewhere along the way?
ANSWER: I cannot explain to you why certain players were, or were not, selected to the NFL 100 all-time team. What fans should understand is that 100 years of professional football includes many, many players, and selecting only 10 at a certain position from that huge group is a monumental task that's impossible to complete with 100 percent agreement among the NFL's huge fan base. There has been some push-back from younger fans about the omission of Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers from the list of quarterbacks. And remember this: there are 26 modern-era quarterbacks enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and only 10 were picked for this NFL 100 team. A lot of great players didn't make it.

To explain the process a bit: A "26-member blue-ribbon panel" votes in this selection process, and the 10 quarterbacks selected were (in alphabetical order): Sammy Baugh, Tom Brady, John Elway, Brett Favre, Otto Graham, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Roger Staubach, and John Unitas. Brady, Graham, Montana, and Unitas were unanimous selections.

THOMAS RICKEY FROM JACKSON, MI: I noticed the Steeler's 2020 list of opponents came out. I don't understand why the Steelers are playing the whole NFC East Division. I was of the understanding that the NFL uses a rotating schedule, which would have the Steelers for this example playing each team in its own division twice, then a rotation of other conference division teams from within the AFC and the same with the NFC.
ANSWER: Your understanding of how a team's schedule is determined isn't accurate. Each season, every team plays against every team in a division in the other conference, and also plays every team in a division in its own conference. For example, in 2019 the Steelers played every team in the NFC West – Seattle and the Los Angeles Rams at Heinz Field, and San Francisco and Arizona on the road – and every team in the AFC East – New England and the New York Jets on the road, and Buffalo and Miami at home. This happens on a rotating basis, and in 2020 the division in the NFC the Steelers will play is the NFC East, with Dallas and the New York Giants on the road, and Philadelphia and Washington at home. In the AFC, the Steelers play all of the teams in the AFC South, with Houston and Indianapolis at Heinz Field, and Jacksonville and Tennessee on the road.

CHRIS KOCENT FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: I understand how the NFL determines the opponents on a team's schedule, but for the non-division games, how is it decided who will be the home team and who will be away?
ANSWER: When it comes to the games against the complete divisions in the NFC and the AFC – and in 2019 those were the games against San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles Rams, and Arizona from the NFC West, and New England, Miami, New York Jets, and Buffalo from the AFC East – they rotate on a home and away basis. As an example, the last time the Steelers played the NFC West teams, the games against Seattle and the Rams (then in St. Louis) were on the road, and the games against San Francisco and Arizona were at Heinz Field. The same goes for the last time the Steelers played the AFC East as a division, and it will be the same in 2020 when the Steelers play the NFC East and the AFC South.

DOUG COPPELER FROM FAYETTEVILLE, NC: How is it determined whether a player will become an unrestricted or restricted free agent?
ANSWER: Any player with four or more seasons of service in the NFL whose contract expires is an unrestricted free agent. Players whose contracts expire after three years of service are restricted free agents. Players with fewer than three years of service in the NFL whose contracts expire are exclusive rights free agents.