Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Sept. 16

Let's get to it:

JOE SCHMAELING FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: I was very surprised to see Thomas Everett among the nominees recently announced for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2019. I remember him as a very solid safety and a big hitter, especially for his size. I don't remember him as being so dominant that he could be considered for the Hall of Fame. I don't think he ever made All-Pro. I don't mean to belittle his career, but I would rank Donnie Shell and Carnell Lake far above him. Is there something here that I don't see?
ANSWER: Your confusion likely stems from not understanding how the nomination process works. This is from "The Hall of Fame receives nominations but does not make them. Any person, including the 48 elite members of the Selection Committee may place in nomination any eligible players, coaches or contributors. Any fan may nominate any player, coach or contributor who has been connected with pro football simply by writing to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The only restriction is that a player and coach must have been retired at least five years before he can be considered. There is no mandatory retirement period for a contributor before he may be considered. Every nomination of an eligible candidate received will be processed and forwarded to the Hall of Fame's Selection Committee."

As for Everett, he played nine NFL seasons – five with the Steelers, two with Dallas, and two with Tampa Bay – and in 128 career games, he had 21 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries. In eight playoff games, he had four more interceptions. He was a starting safety on the Dallas teams that won Super Bowls after the 1992 and 1993 seasons. He was voted to one Pro Bowl and never was voted All-Pro. All due respect, but in my opinion that is not a Hall of Fame resume.

KAREN REDA FROM LAS. VEGAS, NV: A lot has been said of Le'Veon Bell not signing with the Steelers. What was the offer the Steelers made?
ANSWER: In an effort to shed some light on this, I offer you this piece, which was written by John Breech and appeared on on July 17:
"According to, the Steelers made one final offer to (Le'Veon) Bell on (July 16), just hours before the NFL's 4 p.m. ET deadline for teams to negotiate a new contract with their franchise player. The offer from the Steelers was worth a total of $70 million over five years (or $14 million per season). Although the offer would have given Bell the largest multi-year contract of any running back in the NFL, he turned it down, and one reason he likely did that, is because it was nowhere near his asking price, which was reportedly in the neighborhood of $17 million per season. One other reason Bell might have turned the deal down is because it apparently wasn't loaded with any substantial guarantees. According to's Ian Rapoport, the contract included $33 million in guaranteed money, which was going to be paid out over the first two years. Rapoport also noted that the first three years of the deal would pay out $45 million (or $15 million per season), but didn't note if all of that money was guaranteed."

BOB SMITHE FROM BETHLEHEM, PA: Is a player not under contract subject to the NFL's drug testing program?
**ANSWER: If a player already is in the program for a previous violation(s) of the policy, he still is subject to the terms of the program if he's perceived to be someone whose career is not over. So in the case of Le'Veon Bell, the answer is, yes.

NICHOLAS YOUNG FROM LOMBARD, IL: After the tie against the Browns, do you think that the Steelers work on offense or defense more during practice? They had so many turnovers, but the defense gave up 14 unanswered points for the Browns to tie.
ANSWER: It doesn't work that way. NFL teams don't cater their practices to what happened in the previous game. Instead, teams work on all aspects of their game – offense, defense, and special teams – and gear those sessions to the upcoming opponent's strengths and weaknesses.**

JIM DIBERT FROM FAIRBORN, OH: If the Steelers finish 10-5-1 and a division foe finishes 11-5-0, and the Steelers defeat that foe in both meetings, who wins the mighty AFC North?
ANSWER: Again, tiebreakers only matter if two or more teams finish with the exact same record, and this obviously is not a case of two teams finishing with the exact same record. The 11-5 team would finish with a winning percentage of .688, and the 10-5-1 team would finish with a winning percentage of .656. The 11-5 team would finish ahead of the 10-5-1 team.

NICK MITCHELL FROM GLEN-LYON, PA: Is this the first time the Steelers opened the season with a tie game?
ANSWER: No. The Steelers opened the season with a tie four times before last Sunday's game in Cleveland. It happened in 1940, 1951, 1963, and 1966.

LORI VERNA FROM NORTH HUNTINGDON, PA: Wondering what happened to Tunch Ilkin's segment, "Tunch's Keys" to the game against the upcoming opponent.
ANSWER: Nothing happened to it. That video still appears on in advance of each game of the regular season. As an example, for the 1 p.m. game against the Chiefs, "Tunch's Keys" was on the website on Saturday morning, and I'm sure you can still find it there now should you care to watch it.

GIOVANNY BONIFAZ FROM CDMX, MEXICO: When will the Steelers wear their color rush uniforms? I also have seen posts where the NFL deducted a sack from T.J. Watt's total against the Browns. Is that true? If it is, why?
ANSWER: The Steelers will wear their color rush uniforms for the game against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday, Nov. 8 at Heinz Field. Yes, one sack was deducted from T.J. Watt, which means instead of four sacks in the opener, he now is credited with three sacks. The sack deducted from Watt was awarded to Javon Hargrave after a review of the game video that was done by Elias Sports Bureau, which serves as the official statistician for the NFL.

THOMAS MATTHEWS FROM ORLANDO, FL: In your Sept. 11 Asked and Answered you wrote that ties in the NFL were not counted in the standings before 1972. I thought that policy ended after the 1963 season when the 7-3-3 Steelers entered the last game of the regular season against the 10-3 Giants with a chance to advance to the NFL championship game with a win. Had the league counted ties as half a win and half a loss that year the Steelers would have been eliminated before the game with the Giants. Am I wrong about that?
ANSWER: You only are wrong about when the NFL started counting ties in the standings. That began in 1972. But as for your description of the 1963 season and the finale between the Steelers and the Giants, you are correct.

SID MCGUIRE FROM INDIANAPOLIS, IN: After watching Ben Roethlisberger's first game, do you think Mike Tomlin will start Joshua Dobbs instead of waiting three to four games for Ben to get back to playing at a high level?

CHRIS MARSHALL FROM ENDICOTT, NY: How patient will Coach Mike Tomlin be this year if Ben Roethlisberger continues to struggle and turn the ball over? And what's your take on Joshua Dobb's ability to step in and take command of the offense if needed?

LEE NORMAN FROM OMAHA, NE: After seeing Ben's performance blah blah blah blah, why don't they blah blah blah some untested rookie to blah blah blah so that after they play the wrong rookie I can continue to blah blah blah. I hope to hear this annoying blah for another five years. How about you?
ANSWER: We certainly seem to be well on our way.