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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: June 27

Let's get to it:

ERIC ASH FROM WELLSVILLE, NY: I appreciated your answers to the questions about kickers on June 20 and 22 editions of Asked and Answered. It seems we often remember past players to have been far better or much worse than they actually were. In addition to field goal percentages, kickers are also judged by their performance on PATs, kickoffs, how they play in high pressure situations, ability to avoid injury, and how they contribute to or detract from team chemistry. In your opinion, who is the Steelers' best kicker since the merger?
ANSWER: It would come down to either Shaun Suisham or Chris Boswell. Based on career statistics with the Steelers, plus Boswell converting 100 percent of his field goal attempts in 8 playoff games, plus the fact that he has converted 90-plus percent of his field goal attempts in five of his 8 NFL seasons, I would pick Chris Boswell.

MIKE CIAMPAGLIO FROM BALTIMORE, MD: Didn't David Trout return to kick for the Steelers during the 1987 strike season in the replacement games?
ANSWER: Yes. In the three replacement games in 1987, in which the Steelers posted a 2-1 record, David Trout was 0-for-2 on field goals and 10-for-10 on PATs.

LARRY LASH FROM TARENTUM, PA: In a recent addition of Asked and Answered, You were questioned about placekickers in Steelers history. Growing up I was a huge fan of Gary Anderson and Morten Andersen. Am I correct that Morten Andersen played for the Steelers in the 1990s? Also, are either of those men in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
ANSWER: Gary Anderson's career statistics with the Steelers were listed in the June 22 Asked and Answered, along with a comparison with some other Steelers placekickers who followed him. Morten Andersen played 13 seasons for the Saints, 8 for the Falcons, 2 for the Chiefs, 1 for the Vikings, and 1 for the Giants. Ne never played for the Steelers, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2017. Gary Anderson is not enshrined in Canton.

CHRIS BALMER FROM ALLENTOWN, PA: I watched the Bryant McFadden/Patrick Peterson "All Things Covered" podcast that featured Troy Polamalu, where they spoke about the brotherhood they all experienced in Pittsburgh. They also mentioned Ray Horton, of whom I always thought highly. What happened that Ray Horton moved on?
ANSWER: When Dick LeBeau was brought back to the Steelers by Bill Cowher to be the defensive coordinator in 2004, Ray Horton was hired as the assistant defensive backs coach. When Mike Tomlin followed Cowher in 2007, he retained Horton and promoted him to defensive backs coach. On Feb. 9, 2011 – 3 days after the loss to Green Bay in Super Bowl XLV – Horton accepted a job to become the defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals.

ROB ROWLEY FROM NEW CUMBERLAND, PA: We all know Heath Miller is the best tight end in franchise history, but who's the second best?
ANSWER: For me, that would be Elbie Nickel, who came to the Steelers as a 17th-round pick (149th overall) in the 1947 NFL Draft. In those days, Nickel was listed as a right end, which is comparable to the position referred to in today's NFL as a tight end. Nickel played his college football at Cincinnati, and in 131 games over 11 NFL seasons he caught 329 passes for 5,131 yards (15.6 average) and 37 touchdowns. He was voted to three Pro Bowls, and he was inducted into the Steelers Hall of Honor as part of the Class of 2019.

BENJAMIN KARP FROM MANHATTAN BEACH, CA: I recall a tight end in the 1970s with the last name of Grossman. Could you please provide a quick bio, along with any interesting stats and/or narratives about him? And where is he now?
ANSWER: Randy Grossman played his college football at Temple, and he and Donnie Shell both were signed by the Steelers as undrafted free agents at the conclusion of the 1974 NFL Draft. In 118 regular season games over 8 seasons, Grossman, whose listed height and weight as a player was 6-foot-1, 218 pounds, caught 119 passes for 1,514 yards (12.7 average) and 5 touchdowns. In 15 playoff games, he added 15 catches for 186 yards (12.4 average) and 1 touchdown, and that touchdown came in the Super Bowl X win over Dallas. In the 3-game run to the win in Super Bowl XIII, Grossman caught 9 passes for 136 yards. On his LinkedIn page, Grossman, 70 years old, is listed as an Advisor at Wealth Management Strategies, which is located in Pittsburgh.

SEAN DELANEY FROM GARDNER, MA: As I understand it, reporters covering OTAs were prohibited from discussing on-field action unless a player or coach discussed it during an interview. Football in shorts is football in shorts. The prohibition seems excessively secretive. Is this a Steelers rule or something from the NFL?
ANSWER: Trust me when I tell you that Steelers fans have absolutely no idea how good they have it when it comes to access to training camp practices and the information that can be gleaned from those practices. And allow me to point out something else: The vast majority of teams do not even permit media to watch all of any of their OTAs, or minicamp practices, or training camp practices, or in-season practices, and all of those sessions are governed by the NFL rules that you find "excessively secretive." Also, teams recently have been trumpeting the number of their training camp practices that will be open to the public – as some examples, the Chargers have 7, but two of those are limited to season ticket holders; Cleveland has 8; Cincinnati has 10; Atlanta has 12; New England has 4. The Steelers will have 16 practices open to the public, and all of them are free to all fans whether they're season ticket holders or not. Coach Mike Tomlin also petitioned the NFL to approve his practice schedule that will mandate Mondays as the players day off, so that fans will be able to take advantage of two entire weekends of scheduled practices before the start of the preseason game schedule to make it ultra-convenient for interested fans to get themselves to Latrobe. Instead of complaining, which is actually what you're doing, I would suggest you instead appreciate that the president and the coach of the team you're following has the fans in mind when it comes to access to training camp and other information about the team. And the Steelers have had practices open to the public with free admission and free parking for decades.

ROBERT YEAGER FROM CANYON COUNTRY, CA: With the sad passing of Franco Harris last year are the Steelers going to have any memorial patch on their uniforms this coming season in honor of him?
ANSWER: In the NFL, commemorative patches on jerseys are limited to owners only. That's why the Steelers wore a DMR patch to commemorate the passing of Dan Rooney, and a helmet sticker to commemorate the passing of Chuck Noll.

JIMMY CRUZ FROM CITY TERRACE, CA: The Steelers have had some pretty good running backs throughout their history. Has a Steelers running back ever won a rushing title?
ANSWER: Bill Dudley, who came to the Steelers from the University of Virginia as the No. 1 overall pick of the 1942 NFL Draft, led the NFL in rushing in both 1942, with 142 carries for 696 yards (4.3 average) and 5 touchdowns, and in 1946, with 146 carries for 604 yards (4.1 average) and 2 touchdowns. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 1966. On a side not, as a personal favor to me, I'm going to ask that you refrain from submitting future questions in ALL CAPS. Thanks for the consideration.

TROY DECK FROM COLORADO SPRINGS, CO: Whenever I'm reading an article about current or former players, it usually mentions how many times they appeared in the Pro Bowl. In today's day and age, does that "honor" mean as much as it used to? I mean, Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley was named to the Pro Bowl last year for goodness sakes. So many players decline to play and then replacements are named, and it gets to the point where 2nd-rated and 3rd-rated players at particular positions are now being named as replacements.
ANSWER: I cannot judge what the general consensus might be regarding the level of the "honor" that now comes along with being selected to the Pro Bowl. As for me personally, I believe it's worth noting when a player is voted to the Pro Bowl as a starter, because that indicates he was among the highest vote-getters among his peers at his position. And the significant individual honor along those lines is when a player is voted first-team Associated Press All-Pro. For the NFL to conduct the 2022 Pro Bowl game, there were about 88 players on the conference rosters combined, and by comparison the group designated first-team Associated Press All-Pro contained 28 players – 11 on offense, 11 on defense, and 6 on special teams. The breakdown by position included 1 quarterback, 1 running back, 1 tight end, 3 wide receivers, 1 left tackle, 1 right tackle, 1 left guard, 1 right guard, and 1 center on offense; 2 edge rushers, 2 interior defensive linemen, 3 linebackers, 2 cornerbacks, and 2 safeties on defense; and 1 placekicker, 1 punter, 1 kickoff returner, 1 punt returner, 1 special teams player, and 1 long-snapper on special teams.

MAURICIO CRUZ FROM CDMX, MÉXICO: Speaking about Super Bowl MVPs, and of the annoying loss we suffered in Super Bowl XXX, did Cowboys defensive back Larry Brown really have a great case to win the award, other than happening to be in the areas where the-Steelers-QB-we-would-like-to-forget so miserably threw a couple of bad passes?
ANSWER: It's not that an individual player must reach a pre-ordained level of performance to be voted the Super Bowl MVP, but he only needs to have impressed the voters as being someone whose contributions were very important to the game's outcome. Looking at Super Bowl XXX specifically, Larry Brown had two interceptions, both in the second half and both of which set up Dallas touchdowns, to go along with being involved in 7 tackles, and those contributions clearly were the most significant in Dallas' 27-17 victory. By comparison, Emmitt Smith scored two touchdowns on runs of 1 and 4 yards, but he rushed for just 49 yards on 18 carries (2.7 average); Troy Aikman completed 15-of-23 (65.2 percent) for 209 yards, with 1 touchdown, no interceptions and a rating of 109.8; and Michael Irvin led the Cowboys in receiving with 5 catches for 76 yards, but both Andre Hastings and Ernie Mills of the Steelers put up better receiving numbers. It might have been painful for Steelers fans, but Larry Brown deserved to be the MVP of Super Bowl XXX.

JEFF CROWELL FROM EFFINGHAM, IL: I grew up in the South Hills area of Pittsburgh in the 1970s and remember when Stan Savran came to town. Now living outside of the Pittsburgh market, I listened to Stan and Charlie Batch on the postgame broadcast on the Steelers Radio Network. I appreciate the way Stan could be critical of the Steelers in a respectful and inquisitive manner. He also had unbelievable patience with some callers and knew where to draw the line. Is there someone in the wings to take Stan's place or will there be an audition for the next postgame show host? Lastly, a tip for other readers, if you're not listening to the Asked and Answered podcast you're missing out on some good content and fun banter.
ANSWER: I am certain that there will continue to be a postgame show on the Steelers Radio Network this season and in seasons to come, but there will be no "replacing" Stan Savran, because he was one-of-a-kind.