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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Feb. 9

Let's get to it:

RON WILLIAMS FROM ASTORIA, OR: With the Steelers being able to run the ball more efficiently towards the second half of the season and with Najee Harris being (nagged by injuries) somewhat often, should the team try and draft a running back in the third round or wait until the later rounds?
ANSWER: I'm going to begin by taking issue with your characterization of Najee Harris' availability and reliability. In two seasons, Harris has started all 34 regular season games, had 694 touches (579 rushes and 115 receptions), scored 20 total touchdowns, and played 1,743 offensive snaps. And after the 2022 NFL Draft, the Steelers signed undrafted rookie Jaylen Warren, who ended his rookie season having played in 16 regular season games, with 105 touches. He averaged 4.9 yards per rush and 13.4 yards per catch, he played 342 offensive snaps and was a physical and active blocker in pass protection. I'd say the Steelers already have their 1-2 punch in the backfield.

JOHN GUNN FROM NEW BERN, NC: With all the social media warriors and their perspectives on the Pro Bowl being "lame, boring, and soft," now after straying from the actual football game, has anyone every had a career ending injury in the Pro Bowl?
ANSWER: If you're being flippant with the idea of a non-contact football game being dangerous, I can offer you the tale of Robert Edwards, a rookie running back for the New England Patriots in 1998. He entered the NFL as the 13th overall pick of the 1998 NFL Draft, and as a rookie he rushed for 1,115 yards on 291 carries, caught 35 passes for 335 more yards, and scored 12 total touchdowns. Edwards wasn't voted to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, but he was good enough that the NFL sent him to Hawaii to participate in a preliminary to the Pro Bowl that was called the "Rookie Beach Bowl" and was the flag football version of beach volleyball. Also participating that day were fellow rookies Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson. On an intended pass from Charlie Batch to R.W. McQuarters, Edwards jumped to defend on the play and sustained a catastrophic knee injury when he landed in the soft sand. He tore his ACL, MCL, and PCL, he also slightly tore a tendon and sustained severe nerve damage all in the same knee. Complicating things was a torn artery in his left leg that would have led to amputation of the leg if the emergency sutures in his artery did not hold. Edwards survived, didn't lose his leg, but doctors wondered whether he ever would walk normally again.

Two years later, Edwards attempted a comeback, but he injured a groin during training camp and was sidelined again. In 2002, Edwards won a spot on Miami's roster as a change-of-pace back, and played in 12 games, had 38 touches, and scored 2 touchdowns. Edwards also played some in the Canadian Football League before quitting football for good in 2008.

GARY CAMPBELL FROM ATLANTA, GA: When was the last time the Steelers wore the bumblebee throwbacks?
ANSWER: That finale came on Oct. 19, 2016, and in that game the Steelers defeated the Jets, 31-13. The team's record in those throwbacks was 4-2.

THOMAS CZAJKOSKI FROM WELLINGTON, FLA: We love and miss Franco Harris so very much. After searching continuously, we have found out nothing about his funeral. Did any of his former Steelers teammates serve as pallbearers? Where is Franco's gravesite? Thanks so much for your assistance.
ANSWER: There is little information readily available, and it should be understood that there was a public viewing on Dec. 27 at Acrisure Stadium where all were able to pay their respects, and the family has a right to some level of privacy. Najee Harris, Terrell Edmunds, Myles Jack, Pat Freiermuth, Cam Heyward, and Larry Ogunjobi were among the Steelers players who attended the funeral.

ANDREW TRAPP FROM SEWICKLEY, PA: A lot of fans believe, rightly or wrongly, that Mike Tomlin's coaching tree looks pretty barren. But I imagine it just looks that way when compared to the coaching trees of Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay. Did Chuck Noll or Bill Cowher have any more "success" grooming assistants and coordinators for promotions with other teams?
ANSWER: In my opinion, there are few things as irrelevant as "coaching trees." I couldn't care less whether a coach is grooming assistants for promotions with other teams. That is so meaningless when it comes to the job an NFL coach is hired to do.

JIM FOX FROM BATON ROUGE, LA: I remember the Steelers were in what was the NFL before the merger with the AFL, but I can't remember why the Steelers and Browns were moved to the AFC once the NFL-AFL merger was completed. Can you refresh my memory?
ANSWER: The final season of the NFL and AFL competing as separate league was in 1969, and at that time there were 16 teams in the NFL and 10 teams in the AFL. The merger meant a total of 26 teams would begin play in 1970, and the only way to even up the numbers was by taking 3 "NFL" teams and adding them to the 10 AFL teams to form a conference to be named the AFC, with the remaining "NFL" teams forming the NFC. The Steelers, Browns, and Baltimore Colts were the teams that moved to form the 13-team AFC.

DONNA KLAKAMP FROM ERIE, PA: When a player gets ejected by the referees, does he lose his paycheck for that game?
ANSWER: No, but there is an automatic fine from the NFL, and that player then becomes liable for increasing fines for subsequent ejections.

NATTIE TONEY FROM WEST HAMLIN, WV: Why do we keep Mason Rudolph? Couldn't we trade him for a draft pick or something?
ANSWER: Mason Rudolph is set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 15, and it's close to a certainty he will take advantage of that to seek an opportunity with another team. Rudolph would have to re-sign with the Steelers in order to be traded, and that's not going to happen.

DANIEL SUNSERI FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: John Facenda is the legendary voice of NFL Films, and the one film in particular that sticks out to me it is the one that opens with a drive through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, which opens into a view of Downtown Pittsburgh. Facenda goes on to say, "There are 31 teams in the NFL, and then there are the Pittsburgh Steelers." I would really love to see that again.
ANSWER: Go to YouTube, and type this into the search box: "1979 Pittsburgh Steelers a Cut Above". Enjoy.

MARK BIGENHO FROM PLUM, PA: Would the NFL ever hold the NFL Combine in Pittsburgh?
ANSWER: The NFL Combine is not an event that the league has moved to a different location each year, and because of all of what's involved with staging the workouts and medical examinations for over 300 prospects, I don't imagine the Combine is going to become a road show. Pittsburgh has a much better chance of hosting an NFL Draft.

DANIEL KOTT FROM PLANO, IL: Can you see a future rule change that allows a third quarterback to be in street clothes on the sidelines on game day and then allow him to suit up when another quarterback on his team is declared out for the rest of game? I know there were a few examples of this situation this past season where this rule change would seem reasonable.
ANSWER: There is no need to institute a rule change. A coach simply can place 3 quarterbacks on the list of 46 players who are active on game day. Simple. There are enough rules.

MIKE HANNA FROM GRANTS PASS, OR: How many other NFL teams have had only 3 head coaches in the past 50 years like the Steelers?