Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Jan. 1

Let's get to it:

GRANT SPELLERBERG FROM CUTLER BAY, FL: JuJu Smith Schuster may be a free agent in 2023. Do you think the Steelers would have any interest in him?
ANSWER: If JuJu Smith-Schuster was interested in playing for the Steelers, he still would be playing for the Steelers. It was his decision to seek a change of scenery, and while that is completely his right under the rules of unrestricted free agency, I think the more appropriate question would be whether he has any interest in the Steelers?

NATE MAGOLSKI FROM LIVINGSTON, MT: There are so many scenarios for the Steelers making the playoffs that my head is spinning after reading them all. I don't follow other teams enough to make sense of it all. Do you see a scenario (or two) that seems the most legitimate?
ANSWER: Let's do this one week at a time, which also should maximize the simplicity element. As for games this week, New England has to beat Miami. That game is at 1 p.m. at Gillette Stadium, and the Dolphins have announced that Teddy Bridgewater will start at quarterback. The other game of significance involves the Seahawks defeating the New York Jets in a 4:05 p.m. game in Seattle. And of course, the Steelers have to defeat the Ravens in Baltimore on Sunday night. If those things happen this week, then we can revisit the scenario for Week 18.

WILLIAM CALVIN FROM APOLLO BEACH, FL: When the Steelers claim a player off another team's practice squad like they just did with linebacker Trae Crowder, how do they determine his salary as a member of the Steelers roster? If the salary offer is not to his liking, can he refuse to move to the new team?
ANSWER: To keep this as simple as possible, there are two things to keep in mind: players on a team's practice squad are not required to go to another team that wants to sign him to its active roster; and there is a significant difference in the salary paid to a player on the practice squad vs. the salary paid to a player on the 53-man roster, and it should be remembered that the player has to be kept on the 53-man roster for at least three weeks. The salary would be negotiated between the player and the new team.

KEN MAULDIN FROM CLYDE, TX: We have seen dramatic improvement in our offensive line at all 5 spots since the start of the season, and so hopefully we can just select the best offensive lineman available regardless of where he plays whenever the Steelers decide to do that. That is if all the starters come back, and so can you tell me which offensive line starters are signed through next year?
ANSWER: All of them are signed through the 2023 season, at least. Dan Moore Jr. is signed through the 2024 season, Kevin Dotson is signed through the 2023 season, Mason Cole is signed through the 2024 season, James Daniels is signed through the 2024 season, and Chuks Okorafor is signed through the 2024 season.

TODD GOODING FROM PORTAGE, MI: At Penn State, Franco Harris wore No. 34. Did he want to wear No. 34 when he first came to the Steelers, and how did he end up with No. 32?
ANSWER: I cannot say for certain how Franco Harris ended up wearing No. 32 with the Steelers, but I can tell you that he couldn't wear No. 34 because that was Andy Russell's number, and he couldn't wear No. 33 because that was Frenchy Fuqua's number. Both Russell and Fuqua were established veterans on the team when Harris arrived after the 1972 draft.

PAT FLYNN FROM OAKDALE, PA: Is Asked and Answered translated into Spanish on the Steelers Spanish website?
ANSWER: No. Asked and Answered is not available on steelers.com/espanol.

CHARLES MAKRUCKI FROM HINCKLEY, CA: I remember Tony Dungy being used as an emergency quarterback in 1977. Can you please continue the story with an explanation of how the Steelers handled the quarterback situation in the weeks following?
ANSWER: The explanation is a simple one: the following week Terry Bradshaw was healthy enough to play, and so he returned as the starting quarterback. End of story.

GILBERT TROUTMAN FROM EDINBORO, PA: During the home game against the Ravens this season, the entire Baltimore bench area was dancing and waving white towels during Renegade. At the conclusion of the game players left the field with a towel-waving arm gesture. I took this as quite the insult to Steelers Nation. As the second game approaches I have become more obsessed over this insult. Can I find any company in my rage?
ANSWER: Not from me. Renegade is not the Star-Spangled Banner, and the only way to make a visiting team pay for mocking the Terrible Towel or the fans twirling them in the stands is to send that team home as the losing team.

CHIPPER NENADAL FROM ELYRIA, OH: Here we are, one week until Week 18 of the regular season, and the schedule for that week is still not set. What the heck is the NFL waiting for? I get the league and the networks want the best matchups for ratings, but most of the playoff scenarios are already set. Are they going to wait until next Monday to finally set the times and dates?
ANSWER: I never expected anything different. I'm not saying it isn't somewhat unfair to the fans, and for fans who are traveling from out of town for the game it could turn into something more than a simple aggravation. But the business relationship between the NFL and its broadcast partners is too lucrative and too integral to the revenue pool that determines things such as the salary cap for there to be any backtracking. The only thing I could imagine the league might try to do in the future to be fair is to alternate each team's regular season finale on a home-and-road basis so that one fan base isn't stuck with dealing with this uncertainty more than another team's fan base.

SUNIL GEORGE FROM PRINCETON, NJ: With J.J. Watt retiring and on the path to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, this brings up the question of T.J. Watt's chances of getting into the Hall of Fame. Also, how many brothers are in the Hall of Fame?
ANSWER: It's way too early to be talking about T.J. Watt's candidacy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and as far as I can tell there are not any sets of brothers enshrined in Canton as players. Once Eli Manning is elected, he will join his brother Peyton in the Hall of Fame.

DON EXUM FROM NEW LENOX, IL: The Steelers drafted a linebacker out of Purdue in the 1970s by the name of Mark Gefert. How long did he play, and do you have any stats on his career?
ANSWER: In the eighth round of the 1974 NFL Draft, the Steelers made Purdue linebacker Mark Gefert the 204th overall selection, and in trying to crack a position group that already counted Andy Russell and Jack Ham as veterans and No. 2 pick Jack Lambert as the leading newcomer Gefert had little chance to earn a roster spot. Gefert was waived before the start of the regular season, and he played 16 games over two seasons (1974-75) in the Canadian Football League for Winnipeg.

LARRY WARD FROM WICHITA, KS: With the popularity of the Steelers' block number jerseys, has there ever been talk of going back to this, in black and white, as the team's fulltime jersey style?
ANSWER: The only talk I ever hear about this change is coming from fans.

REGGIE HESS FROM CHESTERTON, IN: I have watched the Immaculate Reception play quite a few times. Do you think there was interference on that play, and if not, do you think they would call it today?
ANSWER: I am most thankful that there was no instant replay review used as an officiating tool in 1972, because the game's referee – Fred Swearingen – would still be staring at a monitor while somebody sitting in a dark room inside the league offices in New York City still would be trying to figure out what to tell him he saw. Not to be cynical.

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