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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: March 7

Let's get to it:

GREGORY EDGAR FROM STUDIO CITY, CA: Jason Kelce's retirement speech has been well received. Watching it had me thinking about the most memorable NFL speeches. For me there are two that come immediately to mind. Troy Polamalu's Hall Of Fame speech, and Tony Romo's pre-retirement 2016 speech. I regard you as a great historian of the game. Could you tell me any speech or speeches that are indelible for you?
ANSWER: The two most powerful speeches I personally witnessed were both at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and they were delivered by Jack Lambert in 1990 and Dan Rooney in 2000.

The climax of Lambert's speech was this: "And finally, how fortunate I was to play for the Pittsburgh fans ... a proud and hardworking people who love their football and their players. If I could start my life all over again, I would be a professional football player, and you damn well better believe I would be a Pittsburgh Steeler."

At the heart of Rooney's speech was this: "Then came the best team that ever played, the 1970s Steelers. There are times, though seldom, when everything comes together. When a group of young men become a special team. Where their accomplishments give them a time in history. Not only winning, but being the best, and doing so with unselfish determination to be the best team. Making the goal together. That happened in Pittsburgh. It was a glorious time."

For anyone interested in seeing the entirety of either or both of these speeches as they were delivered from the steps of the Hall of Fame in Canton, go to and type either "Jack Lambert's Hall of Fame speech" or "Dan Rooney's Hall of Fame speech" in the search box.

LEE HORELICK FROM LOUISVILLE, KY: With Bill Hillgrove retiring, I was wondering if there are announcers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as there are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame? If so, have any Steelers announcers been inducted?
ANSWER: What the NFL has is the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award, which was created in 1989 and named for former Commissioner Pete Rozelle. The award is given annually by the Pro Football Hall of Fame "for longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football." What makes the Rozelle Award different from what some of the other sports do in the category is that it can be given to broadcast executives and production people in addition to on-air personalities. Myron Cope was the winner of the Rozelle Award in 2005.

BOB APJOK FROM KNOXVILLE, TN: I was wondering if the Steelers would consider Max Starks as the next play-by-play guy. He has great insight on the sidelines. Is there enough of a similarity between his job and Bill Hillgrove's, or are they a completely different skill-set?
ANSWER: Max Starks is good at his job, and I always have found him to be insightful and an easy listen. But being a play-by-play announcer requires a whole different skill-set, and it's a job that requires training. Doing play-by-play, and being one-of-32 to be doing it at the NFL level, requires specific training and a commitment to that craft.

MATT FASCETTI FROM JEFFERSON HILLS, PA: Do the decision-makers for the Steelers – President Art Rooney II, General Manager Omar Khan, Coach Mike Tomlin – have a pulse on what's being said not only in the media but public opinion? Are they perhaps briefed by the PR staff that "so-and-so reported the Steelers want player-X?" Or that "Steelers fans on social media are fed up with the quarterback," etc.?
ANSWER: If the Steelers are interested in acquiring a certain player, via the draft, a trade, or unrestricted free agency, they're not going to depend upon, or be influenced by, what "so-and-so reported." And you cannot seriously be suggesting that personnel decisions, player evaluations, hirings and firings, be influenced by what fans are bloviating about on social media.

WARREN FRYE FROM LAKELAND, FL: It seems the consensus is that the center position is not worth a first-round pick. If you have the opportunity to draft a potential 10-year starter at the position, why wouldn't you take it?
ANSWER: Regular readers of this space know that when it comes to the draft, I'm a believer in the who-not-what theory. By that, I am referring to the policy of picking players instead of positions during the three days of the draft. If you have evaluated and graded all of the prospects and then have a chance to pick a guy you believe can become a special player, you should weigh that more than his position in making the final decision. And relying on getting a player later because of his position is unnecessarily risky.

ANDREW SCHERBIK FROM PORTSMOUTH, VA: RIP to the legendary Andy Russell. I always thought that Russell was a vastly underrated player. The Steelers have a history of great linebackers. Where does Andy Russell fit in with the great Steelers linebackers?
ANSWER: This is my opinion: Andy Russell deserves to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but if he never gets that recognition he deserves to be recognized as one of the most significant men in franchise history.

MATT MULLANEY FROM MIDLAND, NC: How much more money will have to be cleared under the salary cap to allow the Steelers to sign their incoming 2024 draft class?
ANSWER: The rookie salary pool cannot and won't be determined until after the draft, because that figure is based on the number of players picked and in which rounds they are picked. As an example, if the Steelers make each of their picks as scheduled as of now, the number would be different than if they pulled a Mike Ditka and traded all of their existing picks for the No. 1 overall selection and only made one pick.

DENNIS SLEEGER FROM YORK, PA: I'm curious. You compared Kenny Pickett's first two years to Ben Roethlisberger's first two years. The one thing that I didn't see was wins and losses. If memory serves me correctly, Ben had a much better win-loss record then Kenny's. Do I remember correctly?
ANSWER: You may remember correctly that Ben Roethlisberger was 22-3 as a starter in his first two regular seasons, and Kenny Pickett was 14-10 as a starter in his first two regular seasons, but I want to make sure it's understood that I was simply answering a question about their respective statistics. I never would compare Pickett to Roethlisberger on my own. Even the thought of that is something I find unfair and misleading.

TOMMY MONAGHAN FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: If Kirk Cousins does become a free agent do you think the Steelers will take him?
ANSWER: The Minnesota Vikings did not put the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins, and so it appears he will become an unrestricted free agent at 4 p.m. on March 13. But he will be 36 years old on Aug. 19, and he sustained an Achilles injury during a Week 8 game vs. Green Bay in 2023. On Jan. 31, Cousins told CBS Sports, "I haven't been injured this severely in a long time. This was my first ever surgery of my life, so there was a lot that was unknown and new, but it's been a positive process. We are two and a half months in since surgery, and I kind of kept waiting for the setback or the frustration with the rehab, but it's been a positive experience. We got probably another three or four months to go, whatever it may be. But I'm excited (about) getting out the other side and playing next season. I'll probably appreciate playing more than I ever have before." So to summarize, Cousins will be a 36-year-old quarterback coming off Achilles surgery who estimates he won't complete his rehab until late May, if then. And we haven't even begun to take into consideration what his salary demands will be, and remember, Cousins has earned at least $20 million in each season since 2016. One other thing, as an unrestricted free agent Cousins is free to CHOOSE his next team; it's not going to be a situation where the Steelers could TAKE him.

RANDY HOFFERT FROM NEW HOLLAND, PA: So the Bears need WR help and the Steelers need to add to the QB room, and Justin Fields and Diontae Johnson are both said to be valued around a No. 2 or a No. 3 pick in the upcoming draft. Any scenario where Steelers just swap Johnson for Fields?
ANSWER: No realistic scenario, and I'll start with this: If the Bears end up deciding to trade Justin Fields, do you actually believe they couldn't do better than a 1-for-1 for a wide receiver who is going into the final year of his contract? Me neither. And if the Steelers trade Diontae Johnson, who lines up opposite George Pickens for the 2024 opener?

STEPHEN KEISTER FROM KINNELON, NJ: Growing up, Andy Russell was a favorite of mine. I remember seeing him play at Pitt Stadium, where he could be as tough as he needed to be, but there also was another side to him. I recall one play, where an opposing player was starting to fall to the turf and Andy had a clear shot at him. Instead of hitting the opponent, he waited for him to hit the turf and then touched the player with one finger to end the play. For me, that one play personified Andy Russell, who was both tough and gentlemanly at the same time. He was a topnotch player and a good man. May he rest in peace.
ANSWER: It was a pleasure to have known him, even in the small way that I did.