LATROBE, Pa. – Let’s get to it:
PAUL FITZPATRICK FROM WILTON, IA: No question, Bob, just a great thank you for being part of the group who chose Bill Nunn for the 2018 Hall of Honor. As a Pittsburgh native, when Bill Nunn began finding players for the early Super Bowl champions, I really appreciated what he did for the team, and he touched me as I began to be in contact with African-American students in my schools. I read many of his articles when I hung out with my dad in his job in Oakland. Nunn touched me as a person, not only as a scout. He truly was a great man.
ANSWER: I generally do not choose to publish submissions that are opinions as opposed to questions, but yours deserved to be an exception to that rule. Bill Nunn touched me as a person many times during the years I was fortunate enough to spend time with him, and I learned so much from him that was totally unrelated to football. I was humbled when Steelers President Art Rooney II asked me to be a part of the Hall of Honor selection committee, and I am honored to have served at the time when Bill Nunn was chosen.
BOB WATSON FROM NEWELL, WV: Why are there no numbers on the front of the players’ helmets during the preseason?
ANSWER: That was a tradition started many years ago, with the idea behind it being that every player has to make the team every year by performing in training camp. Not putting numbers on the fronts of the helmets was a visual way of making that point.
CARLOS ARVIZU FROM MEXICO CITY, MEXICO: Is Eli Rodgers participating in practices?
ANSWER: He is not. Eli Rogers currently is on the active-PUP list, and as such he is continuing to rehabilitate the knee that needed surgery to repair the ACL he tore in the playoff game against Jacksonville. Rogers can attend meetings, but during practices he either watches from the sideline or spends the time on an adjacent field doing his rehabilitation. Since his injury happened in early January, roughly eight months will have passed when the regular season is scheduled to begin. The Steelers believe Rogers can help the team in 2018, but time will tell if he’ll be ready at the start of the 2018 season.
JASON MILLER FROM STREETSBORO, OH: Is there something in the rules that would prohibit televising training camp? Because even if it were pay-per-view, I’d pay to watch it.
ANSWER: I’m sure you’re not alone in that sentiment, but I believe the coaches and general managers around the league would have to be sedated for that to be allowed. Televising training camp practices would allow all teams to collect all kinds of information on other teams and those teams’ players, and I’m certain coaches and general managers would view that as a competitive disadvantage. The other issue would be that some teams’ training camps undoubtedly would be more popular than others, and so there would be a revenue inequity issue to be resolved. Maybe I’m wrong, but I cannot see that happening in the near future.
KELLY J. RASMUSSEN FROM SPRINGVILLE, UT: Why do other quarterbacks wear red jerseys during practice, and why don't the Steelers quarterbacks wear red jerseys?
ANSWER: Some teams outfit their quarterbacks in red jerseys during practices to help the other guys remember not to hit them during drills. The Steelers don’t do that, possibly because if any player is too stupid to know not to hit Ben Roethlisberger he might be too stupid to be on the team.
GREG SMITH FROM GAINESVILLE, VA: What is the meal plan for the players during training camp? I know they eat in the Saint Vincent College cafeteria, but do the Steelers bring their own catering staff to prepare meals, or is it like when I was eating in the school cafeteria, tater tots and fish sticks? I keep envisioning workers with hair nets preparing standard cafeteria fare. I would hope they eat fairly well during camp.
ANSWER: The Steelers “take over” a portion of the Saint Vincent College cafeteria for the team during the stay at training camp, and the meals served to the players and staff are planned by their nutritionist and prepared by some of the same folks who prepare the meals at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. The Steelers pay for this convenience, of course, and in the 31 years I’ve been doing this job, I have yet to see even one fish stick.
RALPH AGUIRRE FROM LA VERNE, CA: Levon Kirkland is one of my all time favorite Steelers. Do you know what he is up to these days?
ANSWER: Levon Kirkland, a second-round pick in the 1992 NFL Draft, is now the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Florida A&M University.
MARK LABASH FROM TULSA, OK: I saw that Antonio Brown brought his family to the beginning of training camp. Are the players allowed to have their family in camp, or is Brown's family staying elsewhere while camp is in operation?
ANSWER: One of the things the Steelers like best about Saint Vincent College is that the campus is an easy 90-minute drive from Downtown Pittsburgh. So, players’ families are welcome to visit daily, and during those visits they can watch practice from a preferred location and then have dinner in the cafeteria. All players live in the dormitory together, however, so it’s not as though Antonio Brown’s children were running around in his room that night.
CJ CAVEZZA FROM CHESAPEAKE, VA: In your opinion, what was the best set of linebackers the Steelers have had? I grew up when Hardy Nickerson was playing for the Steelers, and I’m partial to the quartet of Greg Lloyd, Chad Brown, Levon Kirkland, and Kevin Greene. However, James Farrior is one of my favorite Steelers as well.
ANSWER: Obviously, you are a fan from a younger generation. I would remind you and others in your age group that the Steelers once had a trio of linebackers, and two of them were first-ballot Hall of Famers while the third is a player many believe has been unjustly overlooked for induction as well. And so for me, based on those accomplishments/recognition, it would have to be Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, and Andy Russell. That quartet you mentioned was very good, too, and James Farrior is an all-time favorite of mine as well.
LEWIS LENKEY FROM CHARLESTOWN, IN: How much are players paid for preseason games? And what mechanism determines the preseason payment amounts?
ANSWER: I don’t have an answer for the how much, but the mechanism is that players receive a stipend during training camp and the preseason based on their years of service in the NFL.
JEFFREY MILLER FROM HERMON, NY: Speaking of the elephant in the room, when is Missi Matthews coming back ? Did delivery go OK, and how many millions will you pay her to come back?
ANSWER: Plans are for Missi Matthews to return to full duties on the Monday before the preseason finale. Delivery of her second son went fine, and everyone is healthy, except for the fact son No. 1 is a little chapped that Mommy is spending so much time with son No. 2. And as far as compensation, Missi is already straining the salary cap as it is, so I don’t foresee a raise extended for her to come back. Actually there’s a rumor that Le’Veon Bell wanted the same deal Missi gets, but the Steelers said no.