Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Sept. 12

Let's get to it:

JOAO RIBEIRO FROM SINOP MT, BRAZIL: In answering a question from Tim Warfel in the last installment of Asked and Answered, you mentioned a Hall of Fame left guard playing next to Mike Webster. Who was he?
ANSWER: The question posed by Tim Warfel referred to a time when the Steelers aligned their backfield in the I-formation and would run a play where the opposite-side guard would pull and have the running back follow the fullback around the end. The Steelers used a split-back formation when Chuck Noll was the coach, and so since Tom Warfel was talking about the I-formation, that means it had to be during Bill Cowher's tenure as coach. That means Mike Webster already had retired, which means the 260-pound running back I referenced was Jerome Bettis, the opposite-side guard pulling was Alan Faneca (Hall of Fame, Class of 2021), and the athletic center was Dermontti Dawson (Hall of Fame, Class of 2012).

CRAIG DAVID FROM PENARTH, UK: Assuming no more roster moves until kickoff today, how many of the current 53 players were on last year's roster for Week 1?
ANSWER: Based on the official NFL Gamebook for the Steelers game against the New York Giants on Monday, Sept. 14, there are 32 Steelers' players on the 2020 game day roster who are on the initial 53-man roster for 2021.

TOM VERTESSEN FROM GENK, BELGIUM: Let me start by stating that the following question is strictly hypothetical and is in no way an argument to bring back Steven Nelson. If the Eagles would decide to release Nelson and the Steelers were to re-sign him, does the dead money regarding him on our cap become available to use in contract negotiations?
ANSWER: No. Once the Steelers cut Steven Nelson, his contract was terminated and any salary cap implications as a result of that move were applied immediately. Nelson had to have a new contract negotiated, signed, and approved by the NFL to join the Eagles. If the Eagles were to cut Nelson, then that contract would be terminated, and any salary cap implications of that new contract would be applied to the Eagles cap immediately. Those kinds of things don't carry over from one transaction to the next.

RICHARD SNYDER FROM HOBOKEN, NJ: The Steelers have retired jersey No. 70 for Ernie Stautner and No. 75 for Joe Greene. There is another group of "unofficially" retired numbers that have not been issued since the 1970s, which I believe are Nos. 12, 32, 47, 52, 58, and 59. Perhaps No. 43 should also be added to this list. Can you please confirm this unofficial list, and do you know how players find out certain numbers are unavailable? Is it common locker room knowledge or does it come from the equipment manager?
ANSWER: The following jersey numbers have not been issued by the Steelers since they were worn by the players who made those numbers famous: Nos. 12, 32, 36, 43, 50, 52, 58, 63, and 86. No. 59 was issued to rookie linebacker Todd Seabaugh in 1984, and No. 47 was worn by Steve Morse in 1985, Cameron Riley in 1987, Scott Shields in 1999, and Ron Stanley in 2006. The Steelers equipment manager works in conjunction with the member of the Rooney family who happens to be at the top of the organizational chart, whether that was Art Rooney Sr., Dan Rooney, or Art Rooney II. The yay or nay on one of those jersey numbers comes from someone with the surname of Rooney, and that decision is final.

BOB ELLENBERGER FROM ELKTON, MD: A Sept. 1 transaction showed the addition of Christian Miller to the practice squad. His name has since disappeared, but no notice has been given in the list of transactions. Is he a Steelers player?
ANSWER: He is not. Christian Miller agreed to terms with the Steelers on a practice squad contract, but he never showed up.

JOE WATKINS FROM MISHAWAKA, IN: There's not much information on the injuries of high-profile players such as Anthony McFarland Jr., Stephon Tuitt and others who have vaguely been listed as on injured reserve. Do you know if these are the six-week variety, or entire season injuries?
ANSWER: All I can tell you is that since Anthony McFarland Jr. and Stephon Tuitt both were on the initial 53-man roster before being put on the injured reserve list, both of them must miss three weeks of the regular season before they could be eligible to return. I don't believe either player will miss the entire season.

NATHAN ANDERSON FROM SHENANDOAH VALLEY, VA: Let's say in Week 5 Dan Moore has been doing well on the left side at tackle, Chuks Okorafor continues to struggle on the right side, and Zach Banner is healthy and ready to play. Considering how Coach Mike Tomlin handles rookies and doesn't always play them even if they seem to be outplaying a veteran (Kevin Dotson vs. Matt Feiler last year), do you think we could see them move Banner in at right tackle, move Okorafor to left tackle, and bench Moore?
ANSWER: Since you seem to be in the mood to create hypotheticals for the future and then ask me to guess how things might unfold based on those hypotheticals, let's go with this: Let's say in Week 5 that Moore and Okorafor are playing to a level that they are not the reasons for any of the losses the Steelers may have incurred since the start of the season. In that case, I say Moore stays at left tackle and Okorafor stays at right tackle.

DWAYNE PLOSKI FROM FRONT ROYAL, VA: Why didn't J.J. Watt want to join his brothers in Pittsburgh? And why choose Arizona?
ANSWER: J.J. Watt doesn't consult me when making career/life decisions.

JIM SMYDER FROM MOUNT PLEASANT, SC: I always choke a little bit every time I see that the 53-man roster includes a long-snapper. Does every team include a long-snapper? Why not just train the team's centers to be long-snappers.
ANSWER: Why stop there? Let's just train a quarterback (Sammy Baugh) or a running back (Donny Anderson) to punt, and then get a defensive lineman (Lou Groza or Lou Michaels) to kick extra points and field goals? Then every time a punt is shanked, or a short field goal attempt is missed, you can have something else to moan about.

JOE JALOWKA FROM BROAD BROOK, CT: So, based on what you've seen at camp and in preseason games, should we be optimistic/excited that a fourth-round rookie (Dan Moore Jr.) is in the starting lineup for the first regular season game, or should we be nervous as hell that a rookie is protecting the blind side of the 39-year-old franchise quarterback?
ANSWER: My approach would be to be thankful the Steelers were able to get an offensive tackle who has everything necessary to become a quality starter in the NFL on the fourth round so that they were able to pick the best running back in the same draft on the first round.

MICAH RIDENOUR FROM TUNNELTON, WV: Does the head coach have any say in contract negotiations, or is that fully up to the general manager and Steelers President Art Rooney II? Is management allowed to discuss specifics of contract negotiations with the head coach or is that forbidden?
ANSWER: Management is not prevented by rule from discussing contract negotiations with anyone it chooses, but in the case of the Steelers, the amount and structure of contracts is approved or rejected by the man at the top of the organizational chart. In the 1970s, that was Art Rooney Sr., then it was Dan Rooney, and now it is Art Rooney II. The coach and the general manager can advise, but neither has any authority in those matters.

JOHN LONGO BY MENDHAM, NJ: The one question I did not see is what is the status of T.J. Watt's contract? By the time of the next installment of Asked and Answered that question will already be answered one way or the other.
ANSWER: See, isn't it better to have the definitive, correct answer than to ask for a guess?

PATRICK BRIGHT FROM WEXFORD, PA: Can you please tell us again how T.J. Watt isn't holding out?
ANSWER: Sure. Turn your television on at 1 p.m. and tune it to CBS. Then you tell me.