Let's get to it:
MIKE GREENBERG FROM SILVER SPRING, MD: In a recent interview on Peyton Manning's podcast, native Pittsburgher Mark Cuban was asked to share his memories of the Immaculate Reception. He said his family had to listen to the game on radio because it was not televised locally. I found that astonishing. Can you confirm his memory? Was it because the game wasn't a sellout?
ANSWER: The 1972 Divisional Round game in Pittsburgh vs. the Oakland Raiders was definitely a sellout, but at that time the NFL still had a blackout rule that prevented the telecast of games within a certain area of the home team's market. Mark Cuban grew up in Mt. Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh, and the game that came to be famous for the Immaculate Reception was not televised in that area. Steelers fans had to travel to Erie, Pa., or into Ohio, or West Virginia to watch the game, which was broadcast by NBC. I also was unable to watch the Immaculate Reception on television, because I lived with my parents within the Pittsburgh city limits. I also listened to the game on the radio – on a transistor radio in the family room of my parents' home. The home blackouts were finally lifted in 1973 with the "72-hour rule", meaning that a game had to be sold out 72 hours in advance before the local blackout was lifted.
RUTH WINTERS FROM WHITEFISH BAY, WI: In your experience was the tackle on Kenny Pickett against Cleveland on our first possession a safety? Many (both Steelers and Browns fans) seem to think it was. Looking at the rules, a safety is based on where the ball is at the time of the tackle and not the quarterback's feet (one being on the goal line when he was initially hit). So, I think that was a good call. What are your thoughts?
ANSWER: My thoughts are that you're wasting your time consulting the rule book in an effort to clarify what has called or what wasn't called in an NFL game, because it's all about what the officials decide based on what they saw or missed. I understand mine is a cynical view, but that's my experience, and the rulebook generally is written in such a way as to allow for interpretation and judgment that then can be used to justify whatever call is made or not made. Former NFL referee Gene Steratore, commentating on the CBS broadcast, said that if Browns Coach Kevin Stefanski had challenged the non-safety call he would have won, and the Browns would have been awarded 2 points.
DALE GELLER FROM CAPE CORAL, FL: Why do the Steelers (or other teams) activate players from the practice squad for a game, send them back to the practice squad, only to reactivate them for the next game? Is it a cap space thing?
ANSWER: Before the COVID season of 2020, if a team wanted to activate a player from the practice squad, it had to sign him and create a spot on the 53-man roster by waiving a player who was on the roster. When COVID hit, the rules were amended to allow for the procedure that is in place now, which allows a team to bring a player up from the practice squad to the active roster for a game without having to create a spot on the 53-man roster for him by waiving another player, and then that player can be returned to the team's practice squad without having to be exposed to waivers himself. A team is allowed to do that only three times with a particular player on the practice squad before it must make a decision either to make him a full-time part of the 53-man roster or waive him to expose him to being claimed by another team.
AMOS MEYERS FROM ORO VALLEY, AZ: As I watch Saturday's college games, I see linemen wearing all manner of knee and leg braces, which is something I do not see in the NFL. Difference in rules or difference in philosophy?
ANSWER: The difference is that in college, teams can require players to wear those knee braces, while in the NFL the players are professionals who are members of a union and so teams cannot unilaterally impose those kinds of rules.
JIM MILLER FROM BROKEN ARROW, OK: On the play where Kenny Pickett ran the quarterback sneak for the first down, he appeared to be injured and was attended to on the field and went to the sideline. Mitch Trubisky replaced him. But then the Browns challenged the call, and the challenge failed. When both teams returned to the field, Pickett was back in. Isn't there a rule that when a player is injured he must sit out at least one play? Has that rule changed, or did the Browns challenge have something to do with it?
ANSWER: It was the Browns challenge that had something to do with it. The way it was explained on the broadcast, because the challenge included a timeout, Kenny Pickett did not have to leave the game for a play. And because Pickett said later that the problem was nothing more than dirt in his eye, when the trainers washed out his eye during the timeout for the challenge he was fine to return once the challenge was denied and play resumed.
KRISTOPHER CROCKETT FROM MADISON. WI: Living in Wisconsin and being Steelers fans, my wife and I plan on driving to the game against the Indianapolis Colts. As of now the date and time are TBD. When can we expect the NFL to announce the day and time?
ANSWER: The decision will be made no later than after Week 13 (2 weeks before the game vs. Indianapolis) for the Week 15 games. And this weekend's NFL slate represents Week 12.