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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Feb. 14

Let's get to it:

DEREK LAKE FROM WEBSTER, FL: What in the world does Cam Hayward have to do to win the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award? Is the award a voting contest? How many years in a row has he been nominated?
ANSWER: The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award is determined this way: Every year, each of the 32 NFL teams nominates a player to be considered for the award. Then a panel of judges that includes the NFL Commissioner, the previous year's winner of the award, and a number of former players come together to select the winner. The winner receives a $250,000 donation in his name to a charity of his choice. The other 31 finalists also receive donations in their name of $50,000 each to charities of their choice. With Dak Prescott being named the 2022 winner, the Cowboys joined the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chicago Bears with the most winners (five apiece). The Steelers and Chargers are next with four winners each. Heyward has been the Steelers' nominee 5 times, and soon after Prescott was announced as the winner during Thursday night's NFL Honors show, he tweeted, "We don't need an award to justify the great work we are doing! Back to work and carry on!" Being honest, I was more disappointed over Cam Heyward not winning this award than I was when the Steelers missed the playoffs because the Jets lost to the Dolphins on Jan. 8.

JAMES SMASAL FROM FORT WORTH, TX: Any plans on bringing back the Steelers Men's Fantasy Camp?
ANSWER: At this time, there are no plans to bring back Men's Fantasy Camp, which had been held at Saint Vincent College.

DAVE BEITER FROM NEW CASTLE, PA: What do you think of this: Diontae Johnson plus the Steelers' 17th and 32nd picks in the 2023 NFL Draft for the Bears' 1st overall pick. Then trade that 1st overall pick to some team to get into the top 7 of this draft plus a 2nd-round pick and a 1st-round pick in next year's draft?
ANSWER: I think you must have dreamed that one up during some free time at a Fantasy Camp, because that's pure fantasy. The Bears could get a much better deal for their No. 1 overall pick than a No. 17 and a No. 32, and you then admit exactly that by claiming the Steelers could turn around and leverage that No. 1 overall for a top 7 pick in this year's draft plus a No. 1 and a No. 2 in next year's draft. To be real, trades have to work for both sides, not just your favorite team.

CRAIG EXLEY FROM WEIRTON, WV: I have seen that the Steelers have some interest in Jalen Ramsey. Any truth to that? He could be a good pickup for the team.
ANSWER: Sounds like you were with Dave Beiter at Fantasy Camp. Jalen Ramsey is under contract to the Los Angeles Rams through the 2025 season, and so he either would have to be acquired via trade (and you can be certain that a 3-time, first-team All-Pro cornerback who will begin the 2023 season as a 28-year-old ain't gonna come cheap in a trade) or by the Rams cutting him, which would cost them a $32.1 million dead cap hit and place Ramsey on the open market where the Steelers then would be placed in a bidding war for a 3-time, first-team All-Pro cornerback who will begin the 2023 season as a 28-year-old.

DAN MELCHIOR FROM SAN DIEGO, CA: Growing up, I was always a fan of Bennie Cunningham. Can you shed some light on his career and where you rank him among Steeler tight ends?
ANSWER: Bennie Cunningham came to the Steelers as their first-round pick in the 1976 NFL Draft, 28th overall, and over 10 seasons with the team he played in 118 games with 80 starts. He finished with 202 catches for 2,879 yards (14.3 average) and 20 touchdowns. Cunningham also played in 10 playoff games, with 8 starts, and added 19 catches for 219 yards (11.5 average) and 2 more touchdowns, one of which came in the 27-13 win over the Oilers in the 1979 AFC Championship Game. Not making excuses for Cunningham, but it's worth noting he played in an offense that wasn't exactly tight end friendly and also contained 2 Hall of Fame wide receivers and a Hall of Fame fullback. Among Steelers tight ends, I would rank Cunningham after Heath Miller and Elbie Nickel.

SUNIL GEORGE FROM PRINCETON, NJ: I hope this scenario would never happen in a Super Bowl, but what happens if the game goes into overtime and score is still a tie? Does the game go into another overtime period?
ANSWER: If a Super Bowl ends regulation in a tie, the NFL overtime rules apply. Both teams get a chance to possess the football, even if the team that wins the coin toss scores a touchdown on its first possession. After each team has had a chance to possess the football, the next team to score wins the game. Overtime periods in the Super Bowl would be 15 minutes each, and the teams would play as many of those 15-minute periods until a winner is determined.

RAUL RICARDO FROM LOS ANGELES, CA: How do the Steelers pass rushers from the Steel Curtain era compare to our pass rushers today? Would you consider James Harrison and T.J. Watt on the same level as Jack Ham and Jack Lambert?
ANSWER: During the era when the original Steel Curtain front four of Dwight White, Ernie Holmes, Joe Greene, and L.C. Greenwood terrorized opposing quarterbacks, the Steelers were a 4-3 defense that rarely blitzed. As examples, only 5 of the team's 40 sacks in 1972 came from non-defensive linemen; it was 4 of the team's 33 sacks in 1973; 9 of 52 sacks in 1974; and 9.5 of 43 sacks in 1975. In the 1970s, the Steelers linebackers were used in coverage in passing situations, and so the comparison of Jack Ham and Jack Lambert to James Harrison and T.J. Watt is apples-to-oranges. As just one example, during the four 14-game regular seasons from 1972-75, Jack Ham had 16 interceptions. Conversely, Harrison and Watt were All-Pros because they posted double-digit sack seasons while playing as edge rushers in a 3-4 base alignment.

MATTHEW CONFER FROM SALEM, OH: With the Steelers typically bringing four quarterbacks to training camp, do you believe we'll sign two young guys, or do you believe they'll sign one veteran and one young guy?
ANSWER: I have maintained this position for some time, and I will repeat it here: I believe the top of the depth chart at quarterback in 2023 will contain Kenny Pickett as the starter and Mitch Trubisky as the No. 2. After them, I would expect the Steelers will fill out the rest of their training camp roster at the position with some combination of young players – draft picks, undrafted rookies, or young free agents on minimum contracts.

RANDY PICKRELL FROM ENGLEWOOD, OH: I was looking at the 1979 Steelers Highlight video, per your suggestion, and got to wondering how many of the players on that team ever made the Pro Bowl. Then I wondered, how many different Steelers players made the Pro Bowl from the 1974 season to the 1979 season? We all know the great names, but what about the lesser known but still very good players this team drafted?
ANSWER: There were 10 Hall of Fame players from the Steelers 1970s teams that won 4 Super Bowls – Joe Greene, Franco Harris, Jack Ham, Mel Blount, Jack Lambert, Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Mike Webster, and Donnie Shell – but between the 1974-79 seasons this is the list of non-Hall of Fame Steelers who were voted to the Pro Bowl: Andy Russell, Roy Gerela, Glen Edwards, Mike Wagner, J.T. Thomas, and L.C. Greenwood.

RON PROLEIKA FROM CHARLOTTE, NC: It was Sunday, Oct. 21, 2001, and my wife and I were married the day before in Tampa. The Steelers were in town to play the rising Bucs under Coach Tony Dungy, and we had tickets. We couldn't wait to see the game, but we got roped into doing a "wedding present opening" by our families instead of going (my wife's brother and uncle very much enjoyed our gift to them). If memory serves, the Steelers pulled off the upset, but I have no idea how. Could you share a few highlights?
ANSWER: You describe the 2001 Buccaneers as "rising," and Tampa Bay was in a place in its history where the team regularly was the darling of preseason prognosticators before coming up short in the playoffs. In 2001, the Steelers were coming off three straight seasons without making the playoffs, and so they were considered the underdogs vs. the "rising" Buccaneers in Tampa. After the Steelers administered a physical beat-down that afternoon, safety Lee Flowers went on and on in the locker room afterward about Pittsburgh's win over the "paper champions." Jerome Bettis rushed for 143 yards on 17 carries (8.4 average) and scored on a 46-yard touchdown run in a game where the Steelers finished with 220 yards on the ground and averaged 6.3 per attempt. The defense sacked Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson 10 times, and Warrick Dunn was held to 31 yards rushing on 13 carries. Despite the final score being just 17-10, the Buccaneers' only touchdown didn't come until there was just 28 seconds remaining in the game.