Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: May 24

Let's get to it:

JOHN PODLEWSKI FROM BURLINGTON, ONTARIO, CANADA: How many quarterbacks drafted in the top 10 have actually won a Super Bowl?
ANSWER: There have been 15 quarterbacks drafted in the top 10 who have helped their teams win Super Bowls, and those 15 have accounted for a combined 24 Lombardi trophies. In chronological order, those quarterbacks are Joe Namath (first overall pick of the AFL); Len Dawson (fifth overall pick); Bob Griese (fourth overall pick); Terry Bradshaw (first overall pick); Jim Plunkett (first overall pick); Jim McMahon (fifth overall pick); Phil Simms (seventh overall pick); Troy Aikman (first overall pick); Steve Young (first overall pick); John Elway (first overall pick); Trent Dilfer (sixth overall pick); Peyton Manning (first overall pick); Eli Manning (first overall pick); Patrick Mahomes (10th overall pick); and Matthew Stafford (first overall pick). Among those top 10 quarterbacks, Bradshaw has the most wins with four. Among the teams drafting those quarterbacks, three franchises picked more than one: the Steelers with two (Dawson and Bradshaw); the Colts with two (Elway and Peyton Manning); and the Buccaneers with two (Young and Dilfer).

PAT FLYNN FROM OAKDALE, PA: Do you think it is plausible for the Steelers to keep both Derek Watt and Connor Heyward for the upcoming season? Or is this something that will be determined in training camp?
ANSWER: The thing to remember here is that Derek Watt and Connor Heyward play different positions. Watt is a fullback, while Heyward is a tight end/H-back. Both are core special teams players, and those units always need more productive and dependable players, so the special teams aspect of this isn't an either/or situation. In terms of roles and/or roster spots, I believe the Steelers can utilize both Watt and Heyward. The only potential issue could be that if the team decides it needs salary cap space, Watt does carry a $4.7 million cap charge for the 2022 season.

ISRAEL PICKHOLTZ FROM ASHKELON, ISRAEL: If Mitch Trubisky wins the starting job, would you expect Mason Rudolph or Kenny Pickett to begin the year as the backup? In other words, if Pickett is not ready to start, is he the one you want as the backup if something happens to Trubisky mid-game?
ANSWER: The way competitions for a starting job usually work is that the player who wins the competition is the starter and the guy who comes in second is the backup. The whole idea is for the best players to play, because the idea is to win games. The regular season isn't the time for development or teaching – there is a preseason for those things. So, using the scenario you paint as an example, if Mitch Trubisky wins the starting job, the backup should be the guy who finished second to Trubisky in the competition.

JOE RAINEY FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: Usually we only dress two quarterbacks on game day. So, does that third quarterback who is on the 53-man roster get paid his normal salary for the week?

SHAUN CHALMER FROM BENDIGO, AUSTRALIA: Saw that we "terminated" John Simon's contract. What's the difference if there is any between terminating a contract rather than "releasing them?"
ANSWER: The difference in the terminology used reflects John Simon's years of service in the NFL. Players with fewer than four years of NFL service are waived, which means they go on the waiver wire and can be claimed by any team interested, and if claimed the player must play for the claiming team or not play at all. A player such as Simon, who was terminated, has four or more years of NFL service, which means he now is free to play for any team interested in him.

KEITH WIMER FROM BOARDMAN, OH: Seeing as the 50th Anniversary of the Immaculate Reception is (unbelievably) upon us, would you choose that or James Harrison's 100-yard pick-6 in Super Bowl XLIII as your most exciting moment as a Steelers' fan? IF you had only one to choose. Or a different one? I know there have been so many. Like Polamalu's pick-6 against Baltimore in the 2008 AFC Championship Game that put Pittsburgh back in the Super Bowl.
ANSWER: I have worked for the Steelers too long even to remember what it felt like to be a fan, and so my only way of approaching your submission is to change it around a bit to ask for what I believe to be the most significant play in Steelers history instead of the most exciting. For me, the most significant play in Steelers history was, is, and always will be the Immaculate Reception. I have noticed a recent movement toward anointing James Harrison's 100-yard interception return in Super Bowl XLIII as a replacement for the Immaculate Reception, but I attribute that to more people having seen that play live combined with a growing ignorance of the demons that were exorcised when Franco Harris caught that deflected pass and turned it into a 40-yard touchdown on Dec. 23, 1972.

Prior to the 1972 season, the Steelers had spent 40 seasons in the NFL and accomplished virtually nothing. No division or conference titles. Only one playoff game, and that came in 1947 when the Steelers and Eagles finished the regular season tied for the Eastern Conference title at a time when the entire postseason consisted of the NFL Championship Game. And the Steelers got shut out, 21-0. During the Buddy Parker era, they traded away draft picks in bunches, one of which was used by the Bears to pick Dick Butkus. They cut Johnny Unitas and traded Len Dawson. In 1956, during the era when the NFL would award one team each year a "bonus pick" in the draft that came even before the first overall pick, the Steelers passed on Hall of Fame players Lenny Moore from Penn State, Sam Huff from West Virginia, and Forrest Gregg to pick Gary Glick from Colorado State sight unseen because of a recommendation from his college coach.

The turnaround began when Dan Rooney was allowed to become more involved in football operations and he presented Chuck Noll to his father, Art Rooney Sr., to be hired as the head coach in 1969. Noll was tasked with building a winning program but first he had to overcome a losing mentality that had been 40 years in the making. Something dramatic needed to happen to break through the quagmire and accelerate the progress, and that was the Immaculate Reception. In 1972, the Steelers won their division and hosted the Oakland Raiders in a Divisional Round game, but after leading for the most part a blown assignment allowed a backup quarterback named Ken Stabler to escape down the sideline and score an unlikely touchdown to give the visitors a 7-6 lead late into the fourth quarter. This was the kind of game the Steelers historically lost every time over the course of their 40 years in the NFL, and if they had lost again on Dec. 23, 1972, who knows what damaging impact that might have had on the team's fragile psyche. But the Immaculate Reception happened, a veritable act of God, and the Steelers were winners for the first time in their history. There is no way another play in Steelers history had more impact on the franchise than that one, and for the team's fans there couldn't have been anything more exciting that watching a miracle come to life. And the Immaculate Reception was a miracle, because it not only turned the tide in a playoff game it also turned the tide for a franchise, for the city in which that franchise played, and it was the seminal moment that created a new power broker in the National Football League. James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, and all the other great players who authored great and memorable moments had the trail blazed by the Immaculate Reception.

DEAN HARRIS FROM DOWNINGTOWN, PA: I was trying to locate a list of all the Hall of Honor members, and I came across a page on, but I'm not sure it's up to date. Two names, important ones to me, that I didn't find were Myron Cope and Jack Fleming. Was the page I was looking at incorrect, or are they not members?
ANSWER: Myron Cope and Jack Fleming currently are not members of the Hall of Honor.

JOE MAGGIO FROM FORT MILL, SC: After reading your reply to the question from Gene Grey about Kenny Pickett's age, I learned more about math and logic from your answer than I did in four years of attending Peabody High School in the East Liberty section of Pittsburgh. I'm 59 and seem to always learn something from reading Asked and Answered. You definitely have teacher tendencies but would probably lack the required patience.
ANSWER: There is no "probably" about it. As my wife certainly would attest, patience is not one of my virtues.

JACK MCDANIELS FROM SUN VALLEY, ID: In regard to the drafted players participating in rookie minicamps: Do NFL teams attempt to schedule these camps around college semesters as to not disrupt their educational commitments?
ANSWER: Rookie minicamps are scheduled for a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and I don't believe a lot of "educational commitment" is taking place over a college weekend in May. Besides, making an NFL roster carries with it a minimum salary of $705,000 for one year, and I personally am unfamiliar with how many other careers offer such a lucrative beginning for one's "educational commitments."