Let's get to it:
DON STITZENBERG FROM LONGBOAT KEY, FL: I have been a Steelers fan since my grade school days in the 1950s. I remember my excitement of listening to Steelers games on the radio, and a defensive back named Jack Butler seemed to intercept a pass in every game. Was he really that good, or did my childhood enthusiasm exaggerate his actual performance?
ANSWER: Jack Butler was really that good, and the numbers prove the point. In 104 career games, Jack Butler had 52 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries for a total of 62 takeaways. That means Butler averaged one interception in every other game he played, and it's also worth remembering that the era in which Butler played the NFL was still very much a run-first league. In the 1957 and 1958 seasons, as an example, Butler had a combined 19 interceptions, and in those same seasons, there were only three quarterbacks (one in 1957 and two in 1958) who attempted as many as 300 passes the whole year. Butler was a takeaway machine, and legend is that on the occasions when he had to come up and make a tackle after a reception, he was a punishing tackler.
RON WILLIAMS FROM ASTORIA, OR: If it was up to you and only you, would you retire the Steelers' No. 7 jersey?
ANSWER: If it were up to me and only me, there would be no more jerseys retired by the Steelers. None. Here's why: Of the 27 players and contributors the Steelers have sent to Canton, eight players and Chuck Noll were elected in their first year of eligibility. Nine of the 27 players have four Super Bowl rings apiece. Assuming Ben Roethlisberger is elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, he will be the ninth Steelers player to earn the designation of first-ballot Hall of Famer, and on his resume will be two Super Bowl championships. The Steelers retired Ernie Stautner's No. 70 in 1964, back in the franchise's dark ages before it had won so much as a single playoff game, and because of that he's an outlier for the purposes of this discussion. Joe Greene's No. 75 was retired because he was recognized by the Rooney family and his teammates as the transcendent player in the history of the franchise, the one most individually responsible for the Steelers becoming one of the storied franchises in the history of the National Football League. Greene is the most dynamic and significant player in Steelers history, more significant than any other. OK, then how does the pecking order line up behind Greene? Just at quarterback, is it Roethlisberger or Terry Bradshaw? Doesn't Franco Harris deserve recognition for being the guy to carry the offense to its first division title, its first playoff appearance, its first postseason win (the Immaculate Reception), and its first two Lombardi trophies? What about the defense? Jack Ham and Mel Blount were both players who transformed the way defense was played in the NFL. The only way the NFL could figure out a way to deal with Blount's dominance was to make a rule limiting it. Jack Lambert? And what about Roethlisberger's teammate, Troy Polamalu? There's no way the Steelers could retire all of those jersey numbers, so how do they choose? Loving all of those great players equally, in the same kind of way parents love all of their children equally, is the best way to go, in my opinion. Joe Greene is a category unto himself, and his jersey was retired? As for the rest, they all should be treated as equals. But how to acknowledge all of those equals? That's why the Steelers came up with the Hall of Honor.
DANIEL WILLIAMS FROM CECIL TOWNSHIP, PA: I think the Steelers should trade back in the upcoming draft, if possible. If Detroit would except our 20th pick in the first round for their 32nd pick of the first round plus additional pick or picks, this could really help us with our needs. What do you think?
ANSWER: In theory, this makes sense, but the execution of the idea should depend on what could be recouped in the way of a trade, and who might be available if the Steelers would simply sit at No. 20 overall and make a pick. Using last year as an example, bypassing Najee Harris to trade down 10 spots for maybe an extra pick in the second or third round hurts the team more than it helps because of the kind of player Harris already has shown himself to be. Dan Rooney once told me that too often fans, or people who work in player personnel, are too interested in winning the draft when the idea is to win the Super Bowl. Trading for more picks might get a team a good grade the day after the draft, but what's more important is to add the kind of players who will help a team contend for a championship.
CHRIS WELBURN FROM GLASTONBURY, CT: I agree with Coach Bill Cowher that the best way to conduct a quarterback competition is to have two candidates battling it out in the preseason. Do you really see anyone other than Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins in this year's battle to be the opening day starting quarterback?
ANSWER: I do. I believe the Steelers will add a quarterback this offseason, either by signing a veteran during free agency or picking one at some point during the draft.
RON CIMBALA FROM VIRGINIA BEACH, VA: During the 2021 offseason we kept hearing about how good Kevin Dotson was going to be at guard. Aside from the injuries, how do you feel he performed in 2021, and do you believe he has All-Pro potential, or should the Steelers be looking for an upgrade in the draft or free agency?
ANSWER: Kevin Dotson took a step back in performance from his rookie season to his second season, in my opinion. Injuries were a factor to be sure, but there also seemed to be some displeasure with the condition he was in when he reported to training camp, and that got him off on the wrong foot. I don't believe the Steelers should give up on Dotson after one good season and one sub-par one, but if he's not physically prepared when camp opens this season, it wouldn't surprise me if it was the final Steelers training camp he ever attends.
GREGORY HAFEN FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: Do you think quarterback Sam Howell of North Carolina would be a good fit for the Steelers in the coming draft?
ANSWER: The only quarterback I personally would even consider picking at No. 20 overall would be Kenny Pickett and depending upon who else is available at that spot I might not even select him.
BOB WERLEY FROM TOKYO, JAPAN: I think Mike Tomlin is a great coach and we are lucky to have him, but lately the biggest criticism is about being one-and-done in the playoffs. While I would like to see us go farther in the playoffs, I don't necessarily see this as a demerit solely for Tomlin. How many coaches in the Pro Football Hall of Fame have a number of one-and-done playoff appearances?
ANSWER: There are 12 modern era coaches enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and I have highlighted some of the playoff records of the ones who coached at a time after the NFL had expanded the postseason to include more than one round to answer your question: Tom Landry's Dallas teams went one-and-done in the playoffs seven times; Don Shula's Miami Dolphins went one-and-done in the playoffs seven times; Chuck Noll's Steelers were one-and-done in the playoffs three times; Bill Cowher's Steelers were one-and-done in the playoffs twice; Bud Grant's Vikings teams went one-and-done in the playoffs six times; Bill Walsh's 49ers teams went one-and-done in the playoffs three times; and Marv Levy's Buffalo Bills were one-and-done in the playoffs twice.
JOSEPH CASSA FROM LANSDALE, PA: Which player caught the most touchdown passes from Ben Roethlisberger?
ANSWER: Here are the top 10 players in terms of catching touchdown passes from Ben Roethlisberger: Antonio Brown is first with 72; Hines Ward and Heath Miller are tied for second with 41; Mike Wallace is fourth with 29; JuJu Smith-Schuster is fifth with 19; Santonio Holmes is sixth with 17, but his catch in Super Bowl XLIII by far was the most impactful; Diontae Johnson is seventh with 15; Martavis Bryant is eighth with 14; Jerricho Cotchery is ninth with 12; and Emmanuel Sanders and Nate Washington are tied for 10th with 11.
BUTCH ARNOLD FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: With all the questions and talk about how bad our offensive coordinators is, it made me wonder if you can ever remember a time when Steelers fans seemed happy or satisfied with an offensive coordinator?
ANSWER: There has been some satisfaction with different offensive coordinators for different periods of their respective tenures, but since Chuck Noll made Tom Moore the first offensive coordinator in franchise history after the 1982 season, there has been a level of discontent with Moore and everyone who followed him, right up to the present and Matt Canada.
GORDON ETTER FROM FRANKLIN, TN: With mock draft season upon us, I have probably spent too much time on two different mock draft simulators running a few hundred scenarios, and very few were the same as you would expect. That being said, do you think if the GM position is filled with an outsider, it would occur before the draft, knowing Kevin Colbert will leave after the draft?
ANSWER: This already has been settled, and it was settled by the boss. "Kevin will fill his normal role through this year's draft," said Steelers President Art Rooney II. "I don't see it as something critical that we have somebody on board before the draft, even though we'll be doing some interviews prior to the draft. But more than likely we'll fill the position after the draft."