Let’s get to it:
ED JOHNSON FROM GERMANTOWN, OH: I just read where Cam Heyward has 50.5 career sacks, which is good for second place for a defensive lineman in Steelers history. Can you tell me who is first? Also, how many did Joe Greene have?
ANSWER: The first thing to understand is that sacks didn’t become an official NFL statistic until 1982, and so based on that criteria the defensive lineman with the most career sacks in Steelers history is Keith Willis, who had 59. Willis’s career spanned 1982-91 with his 1988 season spent on injured reserve with a neck injury. But like many teams, the Steelers did a deep dive into their history and compiled sack statistics for the time before the NFL officially recognized those, and based on that research, L.C. Greenwood would be first among defensive linemen with 73.5 sacks, and then Joe Greene is second with 66. To carry this further, the player who is credited with coining the term “sack,” is Los Angeles Rams defensive end David “Deacon” Jones, whose NFL career spanned 1961-74. And so, while his official NFL career statistics include no sacks, he is “unofficially” credited with 173.5. In the 1967-68 seasons – a span of 28 games – Jones recorded 43.5 sacks, “unofficially,” of course.
DAVID HULL FROM SUMMERHILL, PA: After the Steelers acquired Paxton Lynch, who is the backup to Mason Rudolph?
ANSWER: Devlin Hodges is the backup quarterback, and this is easily determined because on game days so far, Paxton Lynch has been inactive.
ANTHONY HOEHN FROM CANAL WINCHESTER, OH: With Maurkice Pouncey being suspended, does he count against the 53 man roster?
ANSWER: Maurkice Pouncey appealed the three-game suspension handed down by the NFL, and that appeal is expected to be ruled upon today. Once the appeal of the suspension has been ruled upon, Pouncey will not count on the 53-man roster for the duration of whatever portion of the suspension is upheld.
ADAM STATTI FROM CAPE CORAL, FL: Have there been any discussions revolving around bringing Eli Rogers back?
ANSWER: I’m not privy to “discussions” about personnel, but what I can tell you is this: On Saturday, Nov. 16, the Steelers signed a wide receiver to their 53-man roster, and the player they chose to sign at that time was Deon Cain, who came from the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad, and Cain was assigned No. 17. Since the Steelers signed a player off another team’s practice squad, that player is to remain on the 53-man roster through three games. They did not sign Eli Rogers.
JESSE CHAVEZ FROM PLANO, TX: Terrelle Pryor and Dez Bryant are two veteran free agent wide receivers who are unsigned, and with the Steelers lacking a veteran receiver, is this something the team has thought about? Or is it all based off cap space and things like that?
ANSWER: As I explained in the above answer, I am not privy to personnel discussions, but in this case I would contend that the Steelers’ actions speak louder than my words. And as an addendum, all signings must fit under the salary cap.
JIM VEREB FROM LAS VEGAS, NV: How much is the Mike Munchak departure affecting the offensive line? The Steelers were touted to have the best offensive line in the league. Is it scheme or resistance to Shaun Sarrett’s plan?
ANSWER: Pointing to Mike Munchak being in Denver as the cause of the offensive line’s play is nothing but an excuse, in my opinion. The Steelers offensive scheme hasn’t changed from the one that was used when three of the starting five were voted to the Pro Bowl. And if it’s all about the coaching, why is Denver, where Munchak currently serves as the offensive line coach, ranked 29th in the NFL in sacks allowed per pass attempt? Not even Munchak can work miracles.
GLENN MCCULLOUGH FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: It seems Chris Boswell has overcome last year’s nightmare season quite nicely. Can you tell me what the current NFL record is for the longest successful field goal? And who was the kicker who held the record when it was 63 yards, the guy who had a deformed foot and wore half a shoe? ANSWER: The current record for the longest field goal in NFL history is 64 yards, which was set by Denver’s Matt Prater on Dec. 8, 2013. The previous record was 63 yards, first set by Tom Dempsey, then of the New Orleans Saints, in a 1970 game against the Detroit Lions. That distance subsequently was matched by Jason Elam in 1998, Sebastian Janikowski in 2011, David Akers in 2012, Graham Gano in 2018, and Brett Maher in 2019. Dempsey was born without toes on his right foot and no fingers on his right hand. He wore a modified shoe with a flattened and enlarged toe surface, and when an analysis of his 63-yard field goal was performed by ESPN Sport Science, it was determined that his modified shoe offered him no advantage.
KEN LEE FROM CAMPBELL, CA: In light of recent events, I became curious of the rules surrounding suspensions. Do players receive any portion of their salary while suspended? How is the amount paid or withheld determined? Does any of the suspended player’s salary continue to count against the team’s salary cap?
ANSWER: When suspensions are handed down by the NFL office, they are categorized as either suspensions with pay or suspensions without pay. Suspensions with pay are self explanatory. A suspension without pay is categorized by the number of games to be missed, and NFL players are paid their salary in 17 installments over the course of a regular season – 16 games and a bye week make up the 17 payments. If a player is to earn $500,000 for a season, as an example, each paycheck is for $29,411.76 before taxes, which represents $500,000 divided by 17. So if that player is suspended for three games, he would lose $88,235.29, which represents $29,411.76 multiplied by three. When a player is suspended without pay, that amount of money forfeited by the player is not charged to the team’s salary cap.
JOHN BRAGG FROM FAIRMONT, WV: In 1976, in Cleveland, Browns defensive lineman Joe “Turkey” Jones spiked Terry Bradshaw on his head, which led to Bradshaw missing a sizeable chunk of the 1976 season. Everyone thinks Myles Garrett will get a significant suspension/fine, but what did Jones get for what he did?
ANSWER: On the play, which occurred in Cleveland Stadium, Joe “Turkey” Jones was flagged for roughing the passer – a 15-yard penalty – and he later was fined $3,000 by Commissioner Pete Rozelle.
TODD FURST FROM ALLENTOWN, PA: Was there a penalty called when JuJu Smith-Schuster was hit in the head and knocked out of the game against the Browns?
ANSWER: On that play, there was a penalty called on Cleveland defensive lineman Chad Thomas for roughing the passer, but there was no penalty called for what happened to JuJu Smith-Schuster.