Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Oct. 11

Let's get to it:

JARED FRYE FROM CADILLAC, MI: I'm not super old, but I don't remember the Steelers ever regularly wearing throwback/alternate jerseys until Mike Tomlin took over as the team's coach. Has Bill Cowher or Art Rooney II ever talked about why they didn't have alternate or throwbacks before then?
ANSWER: The first thing to understand is that the concept of throwback uniforms, color rush uniforms, alternate uniforms happens via an initiative by the NFL office. Individual teams are not permitted to change their uniforms, wear throwback uniforms, or color rush uniforms without permission and approval from the NFL. And to be sure, a team's coach has ABSOLUTELY nothing to say about the matter. The first time the league instituted the idea of throwback uniforms came in 1994 in conjunction with the NFL's 75th season. It was enough of a merchandising success that the idea of throwback uniforms caught on and was resurrected periodically. That idea's continued success eventually led to the idea of color rush jerseys, which was an idea pushed by Nike for obvious reasons. That also has been a rousing success.

ESTUARDO BERMAN FROM GUADALAJARA, MEXICO: I am a fan of Rocky Bleier and don't understand the reason he has not been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, especially when you remember his personal story of resilience that I consider a trait that those in the Hall of Fame should have.
ANSWER: The Pro Football Hall of Fame expects its Board of Selectors not to consider off-the-field issues when voting for inductees, because if candidates with admirable off-the-field qualifications are considered for that reason, then candidates with questionable off-the-field issues would have to be downgraded for that reason.

EVAN TRISTANO FROM AKRON, OH: I noticed on the injury report that Marcus Allen is listed as a linebacker. I haven't paid as much attention this year as I normally do, but I didn't realize they changed his position officially. He is obviously mainly a special teamer at this point, but do you think he has more potential at linebacker than safety?
ANSWER: Marcus Allen is a hybrid linebacker, and he and Ulysees Gilbert have been listed on the depth chart as co-backups to Devin Bush. But during the first three game days, Allen was active and Gilbert was inactive, and so based on that he is Bush's primary backup. That would qualify him as more than just a special teamer.

TODD FURST FROM ALLENTOWN, PA: Now that we have fans in the stadium, we must know if any of the concession stands are open.
ANSWER: Concession stands are open, but the Steelers also announced that alcohol sales will be stopped at the beginning of the third quarter, and that food will be required with any alcohol purchase.

THOMAS TRUXAL FROM DAYTON, OH: No question. Just warm regards to you and your coworkers. I read about Tunch this morning. I just want to let all of you know how much I enjoy listening to you guys talk about the game and team we all love. In hindsight, life is precious and what we do is not who we are. Hope everyone stays strong and supports each other while Tunch deals with ALS. Much love.
ANSWER: Thanks for the kind words and heartfelt sentiment.

JASON SAGER FROM GALLOWAY, OH: In a recent Asked and Answered, you wrote about the Steelers' policy of not negotiating contract extensions during the season, but didn't Antonio Brown get some kind of contract during the season?
ANSWER: Not from the Steelers.

BURTON HARRIS FROM GREENSBURG, PA: Is there a possibility that the Titans who broke COVID-19 protocol be suspended for some number of games?
ANSWER: If it is found that individuals violated the NFL's COVID-19 protocols, the league has notified teams that suspensions are included among the potential punishments. In my personal opinion, regarding the Titans' situation, I would believe suspensions most likely would be the response to the players who violated the league's prohibition of gathering for workouts/practices after those first few positive tests during the week leading up to the game against the Steelers.

ANDREW MARCSOK FROM TORRINGTON, CT: During an onside kick attempt, does the ball need to touch the ground? Can it be chipped like a golf ball and caught past 10 yards down the field?
ANSWER: Yes, that would constitute a legal recovery for the kicking team.

BILL PALAICH FROM CLERMONT, FL: When Chuck Noll changed over to a 3-4 defensive alignment, what were the reasons? Players/talent, changes in the game, or something other?
ANSWER: At the time, the 3-4 defense was seen as being more difficult for offenses to run against, and in the early 1980s the NFL still was primarily a running league. Also, the Steelers had been dealing with the aging/retirement of their once-great defensive line, and the 3-4 required one fewer player on the line of scrimmage.

GIO CALABRO FROM EGG HARBOR TWP., NJ: In the last installment you answered a question that the Steelers changed their base defense to a 3-4 alignment under Chuck Noll. I'm curious as to why the change was made, and who were the four starting linebackers on opening day in 1982?
ANSWER: As indicated in the previous answer, Chuck Noll was looking at the aging of his once-great defensive line, and allow me to go into a little more detail on that here. In 1981, the primary starters on the defensive line were ends John Goodman and John Banaszak and tackles Gary Dunn and Tom Beasley. Joe Greene started only seven of the 14 regular season games and L.C. Greenwood started only five of the 14 regular season games. Dwight White had retired after the 1980 season. Here's an anecdote from the 1981 season: During the run-up to a game against the Browns at Three Rivers Stadium, Noll told the media his plan was to rest Greenwood and his ailing knee in an effort to preserve him for later in the season and go with Goodman in that spot. Early in the game, in the midst of a Browns possession, Noll sent Greenwood into the game to replace Goodman. When asked by the media after the game why he replaced Goodman mid-series, Noll said, "Because he was being blocked." In 1982, the four starting linebackers for that nine-game strike-shortened season were Jack Ham and Robin Cole on the outside, and Loren Toews and Jack Lambert on the inside.

RYAN McELHINNY FROM CHICAGO, IL: Does Minkah Fitzpatrick's level of play concern you so far? I know it's only been three games into the season, but his name hasn't been called all that much. I know being a defensive back it's good to sometimes not be on screen because you're "locking down," but he never seems to be anywhere near the football.
ANSWER: I am the first to admit my opinion on this means nothing, but I can tell you that Minkah Fitzpatrick's play is of no concern to Coach Mike Tomlin. In a Q&A that will appear on at 7 a.m. today and is headlined, "Tomlin on Minkah, motivation, RPOs," Tomlin goes into some detail in an evaluation of Fitzpatrick's play so far this season. Here is just a bit of what Tomlin said: "Minkah has been great. He's just as significant as he was a year ago. He's not getting the splash plays, but those come in cycles in this game, particularly when you're working with a good unit of players where several guys are making splash plays."

TRAY POSAVATZ FROM WENDELL, NC: Why was Jim Miller yanked at halftime of the 1996 opener for Kordell Stewart? And then summarily cut? I never heard a reasonable explanation. Just heard the nonsense, "I wanted to go with Kordell."
ANSWER: You have a bunch of factual inaccuracies in your question. When Coach Bill Cowher benched Jim Miller at halftime of the 1996 regular season opener against the Jaguars in Jacksonville, it was Mike Tomczak who replaced him and then was the starter through the rest of the regular season and in the two playoff games. The words, "I wanted to go with Kordell" never were uttered by Cowher in connection with the decision to bench Miller. And your characterization of Miller being summarily cut isn't true, because Miller finished the season with the Steelers as Tomczak's backup while Stewart reverted to the 'slash' role he had filled as a rookie in 1995. Miller was waived at the end of training camp in 1997 after Stewart won the starting job and Cowher decided on Tomczak as the backup. If Miller was summarily cut, he would have been cut immediately after the game in Jacksonville in 1996.