Let’s get to it:
PETER TOMPKINS FROM EAST NASSAU, NY: Could you please tell me why when we win the coin toss, we defer? This is great when you have a good defense, but in my opinion on this current team it puts us behind the eight ball and before you know it, it's 14-0.
ANSWER: Your question implies a confidence in the offense at the start of games that the unit clearly does not deserve through this point of the season. After four regular season games, the Steelers offense has yet to record a single first down on its opening possession, and the only touchdown the Steelers scored in the first quarter of any of their first four games was the 75-yard catch-and-run by Vance McDonald in Tampa. With the offense having started so slowly, I believe the idea behind deferring is to try to set up a situation where the offense has the last possession of the first half and the first possession of the second half.
ANDREA CURLEY FROM MADISON, WI: I would like to know why Troy Polamalu hasn't been up for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
ANSWER: That’s because the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s rules require a player to be retired for five years before being eligible. Troy Polamalu retired in the spring of 2015, and so that makes him eligible to be part of the Class of 2020. The process for him, therefore, will begin with nominations in 2019.
MIKE LOCH FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: Do you think Rocky Bleier will ever get serious consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Granted as a halfback, he never had great statistics, but it’s hard to argue that his contributions to the offense didn't help Franco Harris and Terry Bradshaw. Combine that with his personal story, and it’s hard to say he does not belong in Canton.
ANSWER: I am honored to reveal that I have gotten to know Rocky Bleier, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. A good human being. The world could use more men like Bleier. Sure, his contributions to the offense helped Franco Harris and Terry Bradshaw, and Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, too, for that matter. But the same could be said about a number of other players on that team, and none of them are deserving of induction into the Hall of Fame, either. And his personal story, as a decorated soldier during the Vietnam War who was wounded in battle and overcame those injuries to be a part of one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history, is not allowed to have anything to do with his candidacy.
Last weekend, Rocky Bleier was installed in the Steelers Hall of Honor as part of its Class of 2018, and I am humbled to have been a part of the Selection Committee that made it a reality for him and his family. That ensures Bleier forever will be remembered as one of the all-time great Steelers. I believe that will be the apex of his professional football career, and I also believe Bleier is satisfied with that.
BILL LETRENT FROM BEDFORD, PA: I have always wondered why the end zones at Heinz Field don’t have Pittsburgh at one end and Steelers in the other during the regular season. The one end zone always has diagonal stripes.
ANSWER: That’s because the University of Pittsburgh shares Heinz Field with the Steelers, and Dan Rooney always wanted the Panthers football team to feel more at home at Heinz Field than the Pittsburgh Pirates made the Steelers feel at Three Rivers Stadium.
TODD FURST FROM ALLENTOWN, PA: As a player, was Joey Porter known for his pass coverage or primarily as a pass rusher/run stopper?
ANSWER: Joey Porter was a feared and productive pass rusher in his day, but he also had skills in coverage. The 2002 season was the one in which opponents decided they weren’t going to attack the Steelers 3-4 defense in a conventional manner anymore. In the opener against the Patriots in Gillette Stadium that was a rematch of the 2001 AFC Championship Game, New England attempted passes on 29 straight plays during the second and third quarters, and then in the second regular season game – vs. the Raiders at Heinz Field, Rich Gannon attempted passes on 69 of Oakland’s 87 offensive plays. The Steelers lost both of those games, but in their situational pass defense, Porter was deployed as the middle linebacker where he roamed the field. That season, Porter’s four interceptions tied for the team lead with Brent Alexander, and his nine sacks tied for the team lead with Jason Gildon.
BILL JACKSON FROM SAPULPA, OK: If the Steelers use the transition tag on Le’Veon Bell in 2019 and then they choose not to match an offer from another team and lose him, will they not receive a compensatory pick for Bell because they used the transition tag? This is how I understand the rule.
ANSWER: That is how I understand the rule as well.
MICHAEL ST. MICHAELS FROM RUIDOSO, NM: Terrell Edmunds ran down John Brown, supposedly the fastest receiver in the NFL. With his length and speed, is there a chance he could move to right cornerback? There would be a learning curve, but the potential upside might be worth it.
ANSWER: And, we’re off …
JADON JONES FROM INDIANAPOLIS, IN: With JuJu Smith-Schuster being an All-America safety coming out of high school, do you think it is possible for the Steelers to try him on the defensive side of the ball?
ANSWER: Juju Smith-Schuster attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, California, where he played wide receiver and safety and was rated by Rivals.com as a five-star recruit. He was ranked as the second-best safety in his class and the 24th-best player overall. Those are some facts regarding Smith-Schuster’s history at safety. His reality is as a wide receiver for the Steelers, and I don’t see that changing.
GUY COURTNEY FROM CULPEPER, VA: With Dan McCullers not seeing a lot of playing time on defense, and the offensive line struggling to open holes, why not convert him to an offensive guard? He would demand a lot of additional attention, and holes for the running backs would obviously be opened, not to mention giving Ben Roethlisberger even more protection.
ANSWER: There are no words for this one.