Let's get to it:
DEREK LAKE FROM BUSHNELL, FL: What position battle are you looking forward to the most in training camp, either for a starting spot or a backup position?
ANSWER: The most visible, the most anticipated, the most chronicled battle is going to be the one at quarterback. The reasons for that are many, from the importance of the position to the fact there hasn't been one of those in Pittsburgh in a long time. While there certainly are going to be members of the media, and fans, too, who will be compiling statistics from every practice session, from every seven-on-seven drill to try to get a handle on the quarterback competition, my belief is that more of the important stuff is going to happen behind the scenes and/or during the preseason games. There is only so much to be learned from the controlled environment of a practice where the threat of physical violence is lessened, and the public won't get much of an inkling of how the candidates are either gaining or losing the trust/respect of their teammates during the process. There is no doubt there will be many significant battles taking place this summer at Saint Vincent College and then on the field during the three preseason games, but it would be naïve to suggest any will be more under the microscope than what will be happening with the quarterbacks.
NICK MITCHELL FROM GLEN-LYON, PA: Where did the Steelers play their home games before Three Rivers Stadium was opened in 1970?
ANSWER: When Art Rooney Sr. founded the franchise in 1933, the team played its home games at Forbes Field. Then there was a period when the team split its home games between Forbes Field and Pitt Stadium, and then the Steelers played their home games exclusively at Pitt Stadium before Three Rivers Stadium opened.
TERRY HALDEN FROM LETHBRIDGE, ALBERTA, CANADA: Since it is no longer Heinz Field, was Heinz given a chance to renew the sponsorship, or was it just thrown open to the highest bidder?
ANSWER: My sense is that The Kraft Heinz Company was given every opportunity to retain the naming rights, and the Steelers sought other alternatives only when it became clear there wasn't a deal to be made there.
JEFF DULIK FROM LADERA RANCH, CA: I remember the early 1970s when the Steelers had Terry Bradshaw, Terry Hanratty, and Joe Gilliam atop the depth chart at quarterback. I was too young to remember all of the details of the revolving starting quarterback situation back then, but would you compare the situation now vs. then in terms of talent, experience, and athleticism?
ANSWER: In such a comparison, in my opinion, the edge would belong to the 1970s group of Terry Bradshaw, Joe Gilliam, and Terry Hanratty. Coming into the 1970 NFL Draft, Bradshaw was seen by most scouts as a generational talent, a consensus No. 1 overall pick, a player who was so coveted that the Dallas Cowboys tried to trade up into the Steelers' spot to pick him, as did the St. Louis Cardinals, who offered a multi-player package that included future Hall of Fame cornerback Roger Wehrli. Hanratty was a star at Notre Dame, and in that era being a star at Notre Dame carried a lot of weight with NFL teams. And Gilliam was a diamond in the rough with dynamic arm talent who was discovered at Tennessee State by Bill Nunn. None of the current quarterbacks on the Steelers roster can match the total package that Bradshaw was or the arm talent of Gilliam.
KEN KNECHT FROM ILOILO CITY, PHILIPPINES: As a teenager in the 1970s, I remember that all kickers were straight-on, non-soccer style kickers. I vaguely remember that Kansas City's Jan Stenerud, from the Kansas City Chiefs, being the first soccer-style kicker in the NFL. When did this conversion happen, why do you believe it happened, and are the accuracy rates much different between the two?
ANSWER: In fact, the NFL's first soccer-style kicker was not Jan Stenerud, but it was Pete Gogolak. The following history of Gogolak appeared on NFL.com:
"Pete Gogolak, who played for the AFL Bills and NFL Giants in the 1960s and 1970s, was the NFL's first soccer-style kicker. Due to his success, all other kickers eventually adopted his then-unorthodox method, which entailed approaching the ball from an angle rather than straight-on and using the foot's instep instead of the toes. Born in Budapest in 1942, Gogolak emigrated to the U.S. with his family after the Hungarian Revolution and started playing football because his high school in upstate New York did not have a soccer team. After playing at Cornell, he was picked by the Bills in the 1964 AFL Draft. In his second year with Buffalo, Gogolak led the AFL with 28 field goals, nailed all 31 of his extra point tries, and made the Pro Bowl. Because the soccer style of kicking improved distance, accuracy, and fluidity of motion, it caught on. Before Gogolak, field goal kickers had mostly been burly men who played other positions; soon, a new generation of kickers, many of whom were skinny, quirky, and European, began appearing in football. In the early 1970s, this shift also caused a spike in field goals that led the NFL to move the goal posts from the goal line to the end line in 1974."
As for the issue of the accuracy rates of the two styles: In 1965 as an example, Gogolak led the AFL in both field goal attempts (46) and field goals made (28) for a percentage of 60.9; Minnesota's Fred Cox, a straight-on kicker, led the NFL in scoring that season with 113 points while converting 65.5 percent of his field goal attempts. The last straight-on kicker in the NFL was Washington's Mark Moseley, whose career ended after the 1986 season. For his career, Moseley converted 65.5 percent of his field goals, while Chris Boswell has converted 88.3 percent of his attempts to this point in his seven NFL seasons.
TONY FINCH FROM SALTILLO, MS: I'm 56 years old and have been a Steelers fan since I was a kid, but I don't remember a couple of guys listed as wearing No. 7 – Reggie Collier and Pete Gonzalez – ever being on the team. What were their stories as Steelers?
ANSWER: Reggie Collier, a 6-foot-3, 207-pound quarterback, played in two games with the Steelers in 1987 as part of the replacement team that filled in during the three-week strike by the NFLPA. Collier, who played his college football at Southern Mississippi, was a sixth-round pick by Dallas in 1983, and a first-round pick of the USFL's Birmingham Stallions that same year. Collier signed with Birmingham and played three seasons in the USFL – with the Stallions in 1983, the Washington Federals in 1984, and the Orlando Renegades in 1985. After the USFL folded, Collier appeared in five games for the Cowboys in 1986 before being waived. During his brief time in Pittsburgh, Collier completed 4-of-7 for 110 yards, with two touchdowns, one interception, and a rating of 101.8. He also rushed four times for 20 yards.
Gonzalez played his college football at Pitt and signed with the Steelers as an undrafted rookie in 1999. His only appearance in his only season with the Steelers came in the final seconds of the 1999 regular season opener when he took a knee twice to run out the clock in a 43-0 blasting of the Browns in Cleveland that welcomed the franchise back to the NFL after Art Modell had moved the original franchise to Baltimore after the 1995 season.
JEREMIAH COLGROVE FROM LITTLE HOCKING, OH: The 2022-2023 training camp is around the corner, excitement is in the air once again for a new Steelers season. You've seen your fair share of training camps throughout the years. Which individual drills and team drills do you look forward to each year?
ANSWER: Backs-on-backers is always interesting, because it serves as a tone-setter for the first day in pads. I won't claim that players can make the team with a good showing in the drill, but it does reveal the guys who are willing to buckle it up and play physical. It's fun to watch, and I would imagine it's not as much fun for the offensive players in the drill who aren't permitted to cut-block the pass-rushers as they would be able to do in an actual game. The two team drills I try never to miss are seven-shots and the live tackling period.
BOB WEBER FROM VENICE, FL: In a previous Asked and Answered, you were asked about Steelers players with the most Pro Bowl appearances in franchise history. That made me wonder how many Pro Bowls Jack Butler made.
ANSWER: Jack Butler, inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2012, played nine seasons for the Steelers (1951-59). He was voted to the Pro Bowl five straight times (1955-59) and was voted first-team All-Pro twice (1957 and 1958).
JOSHUA CAMPBELL FROM CINCINNATI, OH: What jersey number has Larry Ogunjobi been assigned?
ANSWER: When training camp opens, Larry Ogunjobi will wear No. 65, as will second-year left tackle Dan Moore Jr. Once the preseason is over, assuming both are on the 53-man roster, one of those guys will have to switch to a different number.