Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: June 16

Let's get to it:

ANTHONY DICESARO FROM PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL: I enjoyed your answer to the question regarding Steelers interior defensive linemen. I have no complaint with Joe Greene or Cam Heyward being considered Nos. 1 and 2. However, though his time was long ago, and you likely never saw him play you didn't include Hall-of-Famer Ernie Stautner in the discussion. Oversight or some other reason?
ANSWER: I could try to explain by referring to the wording of the question, but that comes off as an excuse. On the heels of my mistake in not mentioning Ernie Stautner as one of the great interior defensive linemen in Steelers history, here are some facts from his career and some impressions of him as a player:

Stautner died of Alzheimer's disease in February 2006 at the age of 80, and in an obituary published in the Feb. 17, 2006 editions of The New York Times, Frank Litsky wrote, "Stautner's Web site quotes Jim Parker, the Hall of Fame offensive guard who died last July, as once saying of Stautner: 'That man ain't human. He's too strong to be human. He's the toughest guy in the league to play against because he keeps coming headfirst. Swinging those forearms wears you down. That animal used to stick his head in my belly and drive me into the backfield so hard that when I picked myself up and looked around, there was a path chopped through the field like the farmer had run a plow over it.'

Litsky also quoted Dick Modzelewski, a defensive lineman in Stautner's day, as saying, 'If you had four of him, you'd have a championship team. He could make that much of a difference.'

During his 14-year career with the Steelers, Stautner missed only six games, and those because of fractures of his ribs, shoulder, hands, and nose.

Shortly after Stautner died, Dan Rooney remembered, "What made him was his strength. This was a time players didn't have strength. I remember we were playing the Giants at Forbes Field one time and it was a very close game, and they were moving the ball. He sacked the quarterback three times in a row."

One of the reasons Stautner and other defensive players of his era suffer in comparisons with more contemporary players is because sacks didn't become a statistic recognized by the NFL until 1982. Even though there are not even any film-study estimates of Stautner's career sack total, he retired with three safeties, tied for the most in NFL history, as well as 23 fumble recoveries, which was third best in history at the time.

CAL SABO FROM AKRON, OH: Between now and training camp are players allowed to use the Steelers facilities to lift weights and to keep in shape?
ANSWER: They are, and I imagine most of the players who live in the Pittsburgh area do just that.

CHRIS WELBURN FROM GLASTONBURY, CT: Are there any "unwritten" rules (from either management's perspective or from a player's perspective) of engagement when it comes to who gets the most attention first for contract extensions – especially when it appears there are multiple players of different levels as potential targets? Or is this an area where each team sets its own unique path?
ANSWER: The only NFL rule regarding issuing contract extensions has to do with rookies. A team cannot negotiate an extension with a player who's playing on his rookie contract until the conclusion of the third year of that contract. Besides that, teams are free to make their own decisions about when, how much, and which players receive contract extensions.

JARROD O'NEAL FROM OKLAHOMA CITY, OK: If a player's fifth-year option on his rookie contract is picked up, does it become guaranteed?
ANSWER: Yes. If a team exercises the fifth-year option on a player's rookie contract, the salary for that fifth year is guaranteed.

JIM MATTHIAS FROM ARDEN HILLS, MN: I have to admit I'm getting tired of all the quarterback questions. With that in mind, who do you think will be our long-snapper this year? Does Christian Kuntz have a legitimate chance at winning the starting job? Should we bring in a high-profile free agent to compete with him?
ANSWER: Maybe news travels slowly to Arden Hills, but Christian Kuntz was the Steelers long-snapper last season, and because there were no issues with his performance throughout 2021, I would be comfortable labeling him the favorite to return to the same role in 2022. And in my mind, there is no such thing as a "high-profile free agent" long-snapper.

STAN PEKATA FROM JACKSON, MS: Are you feeling OK? I just read your June 14 Asked and Answered and your answers were a bit ... mellow. Did you start celebrating Flag Day early? I need my old Bob back, so I can start my Tuesdays with a chuckle.
ANSWER: Admittedly, I could've been less kind with the answer to the previous submission, but I tend to lose some of my edge at this time of year. Good thing vacation is coming up, so I can recharge the batteries.