Let's get to it:
CODY HERDMAN FROM AURORA, OH:
How does this Santonio Holmes retiring as a member of the Steelers thing work? Is he an actual member of the Steelers for a day or is it a purely honorary thing?
ANSWER: There is no official paperwork involved, and so I would agree with your description of it as honorary.
MICHAEL RICKLEY FROM BRUNSWICK, MD:
How does retirement work in the NFL? Santonio Holmes has not played football for many years. Does this mean he was available all this time? When a player chooses to retire for a particular team, does that team owe him a pension, or maybe a gold watch, or is it just a formality?
ANSWER: The pension that NFL players earn is paid by the league, because the amount is determined by the total number of years played. Yes, teams do pay into the pension fund, but it's not as though a guy would get separate checks from individual teams if he played for a number of different franchises. Also, players must file retirement papers in order to be classified as retired, and I have no idea whether Santonio Holmes had done that before the little ceremony at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. That detail is why there is a list called reserve/retired, because that would protect a team's rights to a player who said he's retiring but didn't file the papers with the league office, and then decided to mount a comeback.
There are several reasons why the Steelers did what they did for Holmes: he is one of only five Super Bowl MVPs in franchise history (Terry Bradshaw won it twice), he has established the III & Long Foundation to raise awareness to help fight Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and provide financial support and treatment options for families affected by the disease, and he is close to graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in finance. This is a man who has matured a great deal, is raising a family, and has become an asset in the community as he pursues a noble cause as his life's work.
BRENT PASSINO FROM AFTON, WY:
Is the "coaches tape" the same as the broadcast on television? If not can you elaborate on this? Also when scouting an opponent where does that tape come from?
ANSWER: It is not the same. Coaches' video sometimes is referred to as the "all 22," and what that means is that it shows all 22 players on the field at the same time. There is rarely, if ever, a broadcast television angle that shows all 22 players on the field at the same time. All teams videotape their games, and they have videographers in at least two locations – one on the 50-yard line and another in an end zone. When scouting an opponent, those are the views of the action that are used. How it works – in simplified form – is that every team submits its video from each game to NFL Films, and there all of the videos are catalogued and made available upon request to any other NFL personnel interested in watching them.
DAVID PIKE FROM CALAIS, VT:
I was surprised when you answered a recent question about drafting a quarterback with an answer about drafting a quarterback. No "why are you talking about this now" or "he's still in high school." Are you a little rattled by this?
ANSWER: Rattled? My complete answer was, "I say let's wait and see how the rest of this season plays out. What's important now is that the Steelers personnel department do their due diligence on the college quarterbacks who figure to be available in the class of 2018, and they have been doing that for the last couple of years." And in a way, that's just a long-winded, nicer way of saying, "Why are you asking about this now?"
DONALD STOLL FROM FORT PIERCE, FL:
How is Joshua Dobbs coming along? Good? Bad? Ugly? He certainly has what it takes above the shoulders.
ANSWER: Joshua Dobbs is working hard on the fundamentals of playing the quarterback position – footwork, delivery, etc. – that he didn't get during his college career because the University of Tennessee didn't employ a quarterbacks coach during Dobbs' time there.
GERRY MANDER FROM WINDBER, PA:
What is Andrew Luck's long term contract situation with the Colts? Would the Steelers consider pursuing him in the coming years as Ben Roethlisberger's ultimate replacement?
ANSWER: Andrew Luck signed a six-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts on June 29, 2016 that is to pay him a reported $140 million, and it binds him to that team through the 2021 season. As a player under a valid contract, and especially as a player under a valid contract of that magnitude, there is no pursuing of Andrew Luck that's going to happen.
JIM SANTELLI FROM DOWNINGTOWN, PA:
Ben Roethlisberger appears to be "off his game." Could he be tired as suggested by some? Would the Steelers be more successful running Le'Veon Bell more frequently, thus reducing the likelihood of more interceptions?
ANSWER: Is he tired, or does he need to practice on Wednesdays? I can't seem to remember. (See below)
DAVID OROCHENA FROM POTOMAC, MD:
I still can't get past Ben Roethlisberger taking Wednesdays off. You say it is to "conserve his arm strength." He could still come to practice and just not pass. He's a captain of the team, and so what kind of signal is that to the rest of the team that the captain can blow off one of the four team practice days every week? I will be looking at the practice participation report this week. I hope it is not "business as usual."
ANSWER: Not practicing doesn't mean he stays at home and sleeps on the couch, for goodness sakes. Of course Ben Roethlisberger reports to work on Wednesdays, attends meetings, fulfills his required media obligations, etc., and he also attends practice. There is no throwing, however, and for a quarterback, there isn't much else that goes into participating in practice. I'm trying so very hard not to be mean, but you're making it very difficult.
CHRISTOPHER SHAW FROM MEMPHIS, TN:
As a former athlete, I understand the importance of the leader on the team having confidence, and that confidence is passed around the locker room from him. Do you think Ben Roethlisberger's lack of confidence with his words last Sunday will hurt the team?
ANSWER: As not a former athlete, I would suggest to you that Ben Roethlisberger's teammates understand the situation and the frustration surrounding his "maybe I don't have it anymore" statement. I also believe his teammates would judge his confidence by his interactions with them on the field, as opposed to what he might have said to the media after a loss.
ROBERT SANDERS FROM NORTH CHARLESTON, SC:
When do you start the transition to a new starting quarterback? Ben Roethlisberger has to pass the torch. Let's go back to putting in the backups and let Ben close out in the playoffs.
ANSWER: Excellent idea. Do you suggest Joshua Dobbs or Landry Jones start at quarterback in the four-game stretch that includes home games against Green Bay, Baltimore, and New England, plus a road trip to Cincinnati?
KELVIN LANCE FROM PIKEVILLE, NC:
These plays being called are sickening. Ben Roethlisberger needs to be under center and do more play-action. Why isn't Joshua Dobbs getting a chance? Look what happened to Tony Romo with Dak Prescott. Clearly you can look in Ben's eyes and see a lack of confidence. Why not give Colin Kaepernick a shot?
ANSWER: Please make sure your socks match before leaving the house, and be careful crossing the street.
KIMMER FRANZ FROM SAN DIEGO, CA:
I've been reading the questions that show up in this column, and luckily, due to the impressive insight that other fans have shared I have been able to learn these "facts:"
Apparently, the time has come to retire Ben Roethlisberger, cut Le'Veon Bell, trade Antonio Brown, fire Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley, and scrap the obvious dumpster fire that is the 2017 season … after two losses. This way, we can just go out and draft another Hall of Fame quarterback, start using first-team practice snaps to develop our untested players, and finally start winning 14-plus games per season while adding another Lombardi Trophy AT LEAST every other year. You know … the way it's supposed to be.
Most NFL fans are lucky to see their team make the postseason anywhere close to 50 percent of the time. I get that the expectation level is tied to the franchise's history, but jeez. Is there any other NFL fan base that shows less appreciation for the consistently amazing job the front office and coaching staff of this franchise do in fielding a high quality, competitive team pretty much every season?
ANSWER: My experience is that, by and large, Steelers fans are passionate and knowledgeable and loyal. There is, though, a vocal minority that has a sense of entitlement that I cannot and never will understand.