Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Sept. 11

Let's get to it:

MICAH RIDENOUR FROM TUNNELTON, WV: I know you have received a lot of questions about jerseys being retired and the Hall of Honor. Were you surprised by the recent announcement that Franco Harris' No. 32 is to be retired, and did this open the gates for more jersey retirements?
ANSWER: My stated opinion on jersey retirements long has been that I liked that the Steelers had retired Joe Greene's No. 75 and none other from the 1970s teams that won four Super Bowls, because it recognized the contributions and the importance of Joe Greene as being more significant than any other player in franchise history. But regular readers of this space also might remember that when pressed on whose would be next if there was another jersey retired, I always mentioned Franco Harris because the running attack carried the Steelers offense until the late 1970s, and in terms of carrying the football Harris was the running attack. People should remember that Terry Bradshaw didn't post a season with more touchdown passes than interceptions until 1975, his sixth NFL season.

Does this jersey retirement "open the gates" for more? This is what Steelers President Art Rooney II said when asked that question during the Harris announcement on Sept. 6: "You know, we've taken our time doing this over the years, and so I don't expect to be doing it very often. I think it'll still be a rare occasion. And as Franco said, it's hard to make the decision because we do have many players who are deserving. So, we'll just keep taking our time with it. Given this is the 50th anniversary of the greatest play in NFL history and Franco made the play, it's the appropriate time to do Franco's number. Then, we'll probably take our time making decisions on the rest."

JACK FOSTER FROM ROUNDUP, MT: I see that the Steelers just signed wide receiver Jaquarii Roberson to the practice squad. Does that mean that Tyler Vaughns is no longer available? Did someone pick him up to be on their practice squad or 53-man roster? If not, why wouldn't we place him on our practice squad?
ANSWER: The first thing you should understand is that a team cannot PLACE a player on its practice squad. A player only can be signed to the practice squad, which carries with it an acknowledgement that the player and the team agree to continue the relationship. As of right now, Vaughns remains unsigned and is a free agent, able to sign with any team interested in him, and so it's clear that one of the following things is true: Either Vaughns wanted to see if starting over somewhere else might further his career, or the Steelers believed the receivers they signed to their practice squad – Cody White and Jaquarii Roberson – are better suited for what they're looking for in practice squad receivers.

CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS FROM TOLEDO, OH: L.C. Greenwood was an original member of the Steel Curtain and was a great player for the team. When do you think he'll get into the Steelers Hall of Honor?
ANSWER: L.C. Greenwood already is a member of the Hall of Honor. The inaugural class inducted into the Hall of Honor contained 27 members, and that Class of 2017 included all 23 of the Steelers who had been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame up until that year, plus four other noteworthy people – L.C. Greenwood, Dick Hoak, Andy Russell, and Donnie Shell. Since then, Shell has been elected to the Hall of Fame.

JOHN NOH FROM SAN JOSE, CA: In light of the wonderful news that the Steelers will retire No. 32, since Franco seems like a such a great guy, can you share a personal anecdote about your favorite moment involving Franco?
ANSWER: I am about to relay an anecdote that I believe speaks to the kind of human being Franco Harris was as a player and still is to this day, but I'm going to warn you that some names and details will be omitted to protect the reputation of other individuals who were involved in this. There was a boy in Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh whose fondest wish was to be visited by a particular Pittsburgh professional athlete who played a sport other than football. When that athlete was a no-show, word filtered to the Steelers, Harris agreed to step up and fill in, and he took a teammate (my recollection was it was Lynn Swann) and they brought the boy some Steelers goodies and spent an afternoon at Children's Hospital.

JAMES MacPHERSON FROM BEACHWOOD, NJ: Is it possible that the "typo" listing Mason Rudolph as the No. 2 quarterback on the initial depth chart was in fact an attempt to show that the team feels he has value for a potential trade?
ANSWER: It was in fact a clerical error. There was no subterfuge.

DANIEL UTLEY FROM OLATHE, KS: You mentioned Joe Greene was a finalist of the 1992 process that ended with the hiring of Bill Cowher. Did Greene ever seek any other coaching positions after that?
ANSWER: Joe Greene was an assistant coach for the Miami Dolphins through the 1995 season, and then he was hired as an assistant coach by the Arizona Cardinals, where he worked from 1996-2003, before coming back to the Steelers to work in their personnel department.

MICHAEL VELLUCCI FROM ATCO, NJ: Let me first start by saying I love Cam Sutton as a player on this team, however I'm a little disappointed that Levi Wallace didn't get that starting spot at cornerback opposite Ahkello Witherspoon. I thought Wallace was a pretty solid starter when we signed him. I know Wallace is going to play a lot regardless, but isn't that why they brought him in?
ANSWER: I really can't believe I have to keep writing this over and over and over again, but once more: Jobs in the NFL have to be won. They're not handed out like M&M's. Since Cam Sutton is starting opposite Ahkello Witherspoon, that means he won the job on the field, and what Wallace did in Buffalo was not a factor in the decision. It's that simple. There is no other agenda at work. You are correct about one thing, and that is Wallace will see a lot of playing time, so in that sense the competition is ongoing.

DARIN HUDEC FROM PHOENIX, AZ: With the 2022 season upon us, the Steelers will now have played eight straight regular season openers on the road. If that isn't a record, it's awfully close. Seeing the benefits of home vs. away games (psychological and otherwise), for a league that craves parity, how can this be allowed to happen?
ANSWER: Here's another issue that's been covered over and over. The NFL season opens on the weekend after Labor Day, and in Pittsburgh if the Pirates are at home that weekend the Steelers cannot open at home because of the proximity of the two stadiums and the shared parking lots. I can tell you that Major League Baseball has released its 2023 schedule, and the Pirates are in Atlanta on Sunday, Sept. 10. I'm willing to bet the Steelers string of opening on the road ends next year.

BOB KREBS FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: Will the Thursday night game in Cleveland against the Browns on Sept. 22 be on TV or will it only be on Amazon Prime Video?
ANSWER: Thursday night games will be televised free in the local markets of the teams that will be playing. Out-of-market viewers will be able to watch "Thursday Night Football" with an Amazon Prime subscription.

MIKE CLAPPER FROM BEDFORD, PA: I'm happy to see that Franco Harris is getting his jersey retired, and while his time will probably come, do you think Terry Bradshaw should've been chosen before Franco?
ANSWER: I do not.

MARCK LEWIS FROM AMITY, OR: I thought the Duck Hodges story was pretty cool. Do you know if he's still in the NFL?
ANSWER: During the 2019 season, Devlin Hodges played in eight games for the Steelers, and he was 3-3 as a starter. In his eight games, he completed 62.5 percent of his passes with five touchdowns, eight interceptions, and a rating of 71.4. He signed a futures contract with the Rams in early 2021 but was waived by the team coming out of training camp. He then signed a three-year contract with the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League and played in four games with that team at the end of the 2021 season but didn't enjoy much success. Hodges announced his retirement from football in mid-April before the start of the 2022 CFL season.

JOHN MILKO FROM DOYLESTOWN, PA: In a previous post you listed the men who were considered for the head coaching job before the Steelers hired Bill Cowher. Why didn't you mention Woody Widenhofer? He won four Super Bowl rings during his tenure with the Steelers.
ANSWER: In answering the question about the coaching search that ended with the hiring of Bill Cowher, I listed the men who were the finalists. Woody Widenhofer wasn't a finalist, which is why I didn't mention him.

JOHN GAYNOR FROM SAINT CLAIRSVILLE, OH: How many coaches are on Mike Tomlin's staff? What positions do they help coach?
ANSWER: The following is the list of Steelers assistant coaches, along with their titles: John Mitchell (Assistant Head Coach); Teryl Austin (Defensive Coordinator); Matt Canada (Offensive Coordinator); Danny Smith (Special Teams Coordinator); Brian Flores (Senior Defensive Assistant); Grady Brown (Secondary); Karl Dunbar (Defensive Line); Eddie Faulkner (Running Backs); Frisman Jackson (Wide Receivers); Pat Meyer (Offensive Line); Jerry Olsavsky (Inside Linebackers); Alfredo Roberts (Tight Ends); Mike Sullivan (Quarterbacks); David Corley (Assistant Quarterbacks); Denzel Martin (Assistant Outside Linebackers); Isaac Williams (Assistant Offensive Line); Blaine Stewart (Assistant Wide Receivers); Matt Tomsho (Quality Control); Garrett Giemont (Senior Conditioning Coordinator); Marcel Pastoor (Head Strength & Conditioning Coach); Rodain Delus (Strength & Conditioning Assistant).