Let's get to it:
JASON PRASTER FROM SAN ANTONIO, TX: Have there ever been more than two Steelers voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the same class? Would the voting committee ever allow that to happen? Troy Polamalu should be a first ballot selection this year, Alan Faneca deserves to be voted in, and finally Donnie Shell will more than likely be elected.
ANSWER: Your assumptions about which Steelers will/should/deserve to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame involves a lot of speculation, and it should be remembered that trying to predict what the voters decide is a total crapshoot. As far as the history of Steelers being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, there have been five occasions when two members of the Steelers organization have been elected as part of the same class, but never have there been three in one year. The instances of two Steelers in the same class were: Bill Dudley and Walt Kiesling in 1966, Joe Greene and John Henry Johnson in 1987, Mel Blount and Terry Bradshaw in 1989, Franco Harris and Jack Lambert in 1990, and Jack Butler and Dermontti Dawson in 2012
SHANE CUNNINGHAM FROM CAMBRIDGE, OH: How do some of these people come up with some of these questions? Do they even pay attention during the season? Do they pay attention at all?
ANSWER: All I can do is offer a couple of more examples of what I believe you are referencing. And, thanks for noticing.
GEORGE OEHLER FROM DOVER, DE: Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III looked awesome against our defense. Is he available, and do you think he would be a good fit for the Steelers? I would be looking to sign him instead of putting our hopes in Ben Roethlisberger with an injured throwing arm.
ANSWER: First, allow me to put some statistics to your choice of the word "awesome." Against the Steelers, Robert Griffin completed 11-of-21 (52.4 percent) for 96 yards, with no touchdowns, one interception, and a rating of 44.9. When you subtract the 15 yards lost on three sacks, Griffin accounted for an "awesome" total of 81 net yards passing. That's not even "awesome" in high school. Also, Griffin rushed for 50 yards on eight carries (6.3 average). After earning $2 million in salary and carrying a cap number of $2.5 million in 2019, Griffin is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March 2020.
JAY GREENBERGER FROM SOUTH PARK TWP., PA: Shouldn't the Steelers be looking for their quarterback of the future? Ben Roethlisberger is getting up there in age, and we have no idea how he will be able to perform next season, if at all. We need a quarterback with an arm, who can scramble, see the field, and make quick decisions. We don't have that with our current stable of backups.
ANSWER: To be accurate, there are more than a few NFL teams whose starters are not quarterbacks "with an arm, who can scramble, see the field, and make quick decisions." Those don't grow on trees.
DAVID HITES FROM PHOENIX, AZ: I have been watching the Steelers my entire life. From the 1-13 seasons to all the Super Bowl victories. I consider myself quite knowledgeable when it comes to football. However, having said that there is one thing that I have no idea what it is. Can you explain to me what a "futures contract" is?
ANSWER: The concept of a futures contract really became significant in the era of the salary cap. All teams must be under the salary cap at all times, but the NFL also wanted to have a provision for teams to get a jump on putting together their 90-man offseason rosters before the financial calendar switches from the regular season salary cap to the offseason salary cap, which is when only the top 51-paid players on a team's roster count on the salary cap. So, players signed to a futures contract are ones signed before the top-51 salary cap kicks in (which this offseason is on March 18) but won't count on the team's cap until that date.
STEVE BARRIERO FROM DAYTONA BEACH, FL: I saw Andy Reid's postgame press conference after the regular season finale, and he mentioned he was so thrilled (along with most of the country) that Miami beat the Patriots to hand Kansas City the No. 2 seed in the AFC Playoffs that he would jokingly send "Kansas City Steaks" to Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He was joking of course and said he couldn't because that would be tampering. Help my memory here – back in the 1970s, didn't the Steelers send gifts to the Houston Oilers for beating a team that propelled the Steelers into the playoffs? And of all things, was it brief cases?
ANSWER: It was 1977, and after the penultimate weekend of the 14-game regular season had ended, the Steelers were 8-5, the Bengals were 8-5, and the Oilers were 7-6. In their respective regular season finals, the Steelers were to play the 7-6 Chargers in San Diego, and the Bengals were to go to Houston to face the Oilers, who were eliminated from playoff contention. If the Steelers and Bengals both won to finish 9-5, the Bengals would make the playoffs based on a better division record (4-2 vs. 3-3). So that meant the Steelers needed to beat the Chargers and then count on the eliminated Oilers to defeat the Bengals, and that combination would give the 9-5 Steelers the AFC Central Division title over the 8-6 Bengals. The Steelers beat the Chargers, and then Houston defeated Cincinnati, 21-16, in the Astrodome to send the Steelers to the playoffs. In appreciation for their professional approach to a meaningless regular season finale, the Steelers gifted the Oilers players and coaches with briefcases.
DANIEL HAGUE FROM ROTHERHAM, GREAT BRITAIN: When was the last time the Steelers went an entire season without scoring over 30 points in one single game?
ANSWER: The last season in which the Steelers did not score at least 30 points in any regular season game (win or loss) was in 1971, when the team finished 6-8.
PATRICK ABBOTT FREDERICK, MD: Why has the nature of Ben Roethlisberger's injury been kept so quiet? What happened to his elbow in the game against Seattle this year, and what did the surgeons do to repair it?
ANSWER: As an employee of the NFL, there is some injury information that Ben Roethlisberger is required to disclose, and he has complied with those rules with regards to the injury to his right elbow and the surgery that was required to repair it. But he is not required by the NFL to disclose all of the specific details of the injury and the surgery that was performed, and there is a federal law known as The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), created by the Congress in 1996 that protects patients' rights to privacy. The HIPAA Privacy Rule "establishes national standards to protect individuals' medical records and other personal health information and applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers that conduct certain health care transactions electronically. The Rule requires appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information, and sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures that may be made of such information without patient authorization." While in compliance with the NFL, Roethlisberger is exercising his rights as an American citizen.
ANDREW LAMB FROM PARKERSBURG, WV: Do the Steelers have the cap room to keep both Bud Dupree and Javon Hargrave? Also thank you for answering our questions.
ANSWER: As of this moment, the answer is no, but there may be some ways, and some willingness on the team's part, to try to create the salary cap room to try.
TOM BRUZDA FROM WILDOMAR, CA : Now that the playoffs are upon us, can you tell us how much players receive for each game all the way through the Super Bowl? I really enjoy your column and thank you.
ANSWER: If a team is a division winner and plays in the Wild Card Round, its players receive $29,000, and if it's a Wild Card team in the Wild Card Round, its players receive $27,000, and that's win or lose. In the Divisional Round, all players receive $29,000; in the Conference Championship Round, it's $54,000. The players on the team that wins the Super Bowl receive $118,000, and the players on the team that loses the Super Bowl receive $59,000. As an example, if the Houston Texans (a division winner playing in the Wild Card Round) wins the Super Bowl, its players would receive $230,000 apiece for the playoffs.