Let's get to it:
ROBERT MCILVAIN FROM ANDERSON, IN:
I assume you have been to all the stadiums in the NFL or at least most of them. About where would you place Heinz Field in terms of noise volume compared to others?
ANSWER: My experience is that it's rarely the physical layout of the building that is responsible for the level of crowd nose inside a football stadium, but rather it's the enthusiasm of the fans inside the structure that determines it. Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, for example, is loud, but that has more to do with the Chiefs fans being interested in creating an atmosphere that is uncomfortable for the visiting team than it is the shape of the building.
SEAN BEAM FROM COLUMBUS, OH:
Do you think Heinz Field will ever match the noise level or the intimidation factor that we had at Three Rivers Stadium?
ANSWER: Again, it's not the building, because there was nothing intimidating about Three Rivers Stadium during the 1980s. What made Three Rivers Stadium intimidating to visiting teams were the guys who walked out of the home team locker room in the 1970s.
MATT LUCAS FROM BELLEVUE, NE:
When it comes to contract negotiations, who talks and does the "negotiating" with the player's agents?
ANSWER: With few exceptions, the person doing the negotiating of contracts for the Steelers is Omar Khan, the team's vice-president of football and business administration.
ROBERT HAHN FROM FARGO, ND:
Year in and year out, there is instant analysis of the draft and people saying things such as "that was a great pick," or "what kind of a pick was that?" How often have you seen who the Steelers picked in the draft, thought they made a poor choice, but it turned out to be a good pick? And how often have you thought what was a good pick turned out to be a dud?
ANSWER: Because of the number of years I have been in this business, and because I'm willing to admit what I don't know about the 300-plus college prospects who are available to be drafted each year, I typically don't engage in any instant analysis/evaluation. Plus, I've seen enough "experts" be so embarrassingly wrong that I choose not to wade into those waters.
I reprised this in a recent installment of Asked and Answered in part of an answer about the Steelers 1974 draft, the one that yielded four Hall of Fame players in the first five rounds. This critique of those first five picks – Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, Jimmy Allen, and Mike Webster – appeared in the next day's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Here it is again:
"The Steelers seem to have come out of the first five rounds of the draft appreciably strengthened at wide receiver but nowhere else. They didn't get a tight end, and the ones remaining are more suspect than prospect. They didn't get a punter, although none of the nation's best collegiate punters went in the first five rounds. They didn't get an offensive tackle who might've shored up what could well become a weakness. What they did get was Swann, who seems to be a sure-pop to help; Lambert, who figures to be the No. 5 linebacker if he pans out; and three question marks."
Every year around the date of the draft, I re-read that paragraph, and it helps me keep my opinion – whatever it might be – in perspective.
Check out the best photos from the 2017 season.
DUNCAN BERRYMAN FROM WAYNESBURG, PA:
Is there a chance the ownership or coaching staff or both can put their foot down on these ridiculous episodes after scoring a touchdown? Can't you spike the ball, congratulate each other, and move on? These antics are juvenile and embarrassing.
ANSWER: That horse is out of the barn. The NFL now gives awards at the end of the season for best touchdown celebration. Touchdown celebrations are sponsored. It's now as much a part of the game as instant replay, and I hate instant replay even more than touchdown celebrations. We're both going to have to learn to deal with these things.
DAVID STARR FROM ASHBURN, VA:
Should we as fans be concerned that our "new" coaching staff is getting a bit long in the tooth? We have a lot of young talent, and it seems that coaches coming up in football 20 or more years ago may not be the best fit for today's NFL.
ANSWER: So, when the Steelers hired Dick LeBeau for his second stint as the team's defensive coordinator in 2004 at the age of 67, you were against that? As Satchel Paige once said, "If you didn't know how old you were, how old would you be?"
RUBEN FLORES FROM SANTA FE, NM:
Will the Steelers be looking at any proven veteran quarterbacks available through free agency?
ANSWER: To do what?
JIM SWARTZ FROM CHESHIRE, CT:
All year our defense was ranked among the best in the league. In the Cleveland and Jacksonville games it was a different defense. Was not having Ryan Shazier that big a difference?
ANSWER: The game against the Brown was a meaningless regular season finale, and doesn't really belong in the conversation. But the simple answer to the question is, yes, losing Ryan Shazier was a huge factor. It created a situation for the defense that could be compared only by the offense losing Ben Roethlisberger, but that was only part of the issue against the Jaguars. Getting handled physically on the line of scrimmage, and players making critical mental errors also were factors in allowing 45 points.
BOB WOBRAK FROM LANCASTER, PA:
How can a Patriots coordinator sign a contract to be the Colts head coach, then renege on that without there being any consequences?
ANSWER: Because Josh McDaniel didn't actually sign anything.
HERB HIGGINS FROM ADAMS CENTER, NY:
Does each player get a trophy after winning the Super Bowl?
ANSWER: No. The Lombardi Trophy is awarded to the team. Players get rings.
Check out the best photos from the 2017 season.
DAVID PACY FROM SHERMAN, NY:
I'll see your Jesse James, and raise you two Dez Bryants that the catch rule doesn't get fixed this offseason. You in? Or is this too rich for your blood?
ANSWER: I understand that this is mixing games, but I'll see your bet and raise you one Al Riveron. Checkmate.
SETH SPAULDING FROM INEZ, KY:
In the situation where a quarterback is injured and can't play in the Super Bowl (like Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz), and a backup starts in his place and wins the Super Bowl, like Nick Foles did, does Wentz get a Super Bowl ring and the credentials of winning a Super Bowl? Does being on IR also affect this as well?
ANSWER: All players on the 53-man roster, plus players on injured reserve, plus players on the practice squad get a ring. The guy who gets the credit for being the Super Bowl winning quarterback is the guy who played in the Super Bowl.
JIM LARKIN FROM YORK, SC:
The Eagles have a predicament on their hands next year. Do they start the Super Bowl MVP at quarterback, or go with the guy who could have been NFL MVP if he hadn't got hurt? Would the Steelers consider trading Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant to the Eagles for Foles?
ANSWER: I'm not going to speculate on how the Eagles might proceed at the quarterback position next year, but why on God's green earth would the Steelers send Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant to Philadelphia in a trade for Nick Foles? To start him instead of Ben Roethlisberger, after Roethlisberger said he wants to play beyond his current contract, which still has two years to go? And in watching the Super Bowl, did it seem to you that the Eagles have a pressing need at running back and/or wide receiver? C'mon.
BILL JANUS FROM HAINESPORT, PA:
My thoughts and prayers are with Ryan Shazier, and I hope for a return to a normal life. Is there a roster designation the Steelers could use next year to keep Ryan on the team but not have his salary not count against the cap?
ANSWER: There is not.