Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Sept. 29

Let's get to it:

Just curious for your take on whether the hit to Ben's knee should have fallen under the "Brady Rule" and been flagged as a personal foul?

According to the rules, "a rushing defender is prohibited from forcibly hitting in the knee area or below a passer who has one or both feet on the ground." Rams safety Mark Barron clearly wasn't blocked into Ben Roethlisberger, and so it seems as though a penalty should have been called. But one of the notes tacked onto this rule is that "it is not a foul if the defender swipes, wraps, or grabs a passer in the knee area or below in an attempt to tackle him."

Former NFL Vice President of Officiating Mike Pereira, now an NFL analyst for FOX, said about this play, "The question is going to be now, did he reach with his arm and swipe? Or did the shoulder hit Ben's ankle, and is that what caused the injury? They've got to get the all-22 tape (coaches' video) and look at all the angles. But in my opinion, he lunged into the ankle with the shoulder, and I think it was forcible contact. So to me, I think it's a foul."

This is going to be something decided in a darkened room at the league offices in New York City. It doesn't really matter what decision is reached, because either way it doesn't shorten the time Roethlisberger is going to miss as a result of the play. But I would bet every dollar in my pocket that if the quarterback in question was named Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or even Aaron Rodgers, the referee would've thrown the flag first and then let the suits in New York figure it out later.

If Ben Roethlisberger is out for a significant amount of time and given the lack of quarterback talent in the free agent pool, would the Steelers ever consider looking to the Arena Football League for help from someone such as Tommy Grady?

I cannot imagine a realistic scenario in which that happens. Arena Football and NFL football are a million miles apart in terms of style and level of competition, and Tommy Grady has no knowledge or understanding of NFL personnel or the Steelers offense. Over the next month or so, it's going to be Mike Vick as the starter and Landry Jones as the backup.

It really seems like Ryan Shazier is hurt a lot. How is the decision made to keep him out of the game? Where is the line drawn between "playing hurt" and really being injured? How much input does a player have when determining whether he is able to play?

That line is drawn by the team's medical staff, and the days of doctors rubber-stamping a team's wishes in this area are long gone. Players now are able to seek second opinions from outside medical experts, and if it could be determined that a team doctor put a player unnecessarily at risk he would get sued for big bucks in a heartbeat. Athletic trainers often are the ones who keep players out of practice, and doctors regularly visit team facilities to examine and treat injured players. And you need to understand this: if the decision of whether or not to play was left up to the player, the vast majority would choose to play. They love to play and miss it when they can't. If you're assuming there are guys faking injuries to cash a check, you are very wrong.

I love Asked and Answered. How worried are you about the injuries to Ryan Shazier? He played great against San Francisco. I hope it is not going to be an ongoing situation where he plays two games, then gets hurt and misses the next one or two games.

During his news conference yesterday, Coach Mike Tomlin explained the Ryan Shazier injury this way: "He's experiencing some weakness in his shoulder and until he gets that weakness above the line, we're going to hold him out. He's been working hard with our medical staff, in terms of regaining that. He hadn't been able to do it to this point, so we are going to hold him out until he does."

I'm not a doctor, but this sounds like a type of stinger, or what non-athletes sometimes experience when banging an elbow in such a way that causes brief numbness down to the fingers – often referred to as "hitting the funny bone." The cause of the numbness after hitting the funny bone is that there has been some very minor and very temporary nerve damage. It sounds as though this is what Shazier suffered, only the nerve damage was more severe and longer-lasting. Shazier took a direct hit on the shoulder from another player's helmet and now he's experiencing weakness to the degree that he was wearing a sling on the sideline during the game against the Rams. Time and working with a trainer/therapist are the way stingers are treated, and it seems as though that's the course being followed with Shazier.

What's going on with Dan McCullers? Does he have trouble with the playbook? I see he has a knee problem, but this guy is huge. I am hoping he can be another Casey Hampton and that the Steelers are not giving up on him.

Recently interviewed by Teresa Varley on a variety of Steelers subjects, this is what Joe Greene had to say about him: "What I would like to see, I would like to see No. 62 (Dan McCullers) get his tail over the center and beat the crap out of the center, the guard on the right side and the guard on the left side. Then we will be better. Show some energy by what you are trying to do. You've got the size, you have the ability, you just have to get out there and do it. If he starts doing what he is capable of doing then the rest of that defense will fall in line."

Check out the highlight photos from the Steelers vs Rams game.

I was going to ask you why you're so cranky when you answer questions, but then I read the questions you get. So my question is, how are you staying so calm?

Sometimes it's not easy. Read the next question, and you'll see what I mean.

Hypothetically, being what our recent track record is in the draft and where the offense is, if you had the option to trade the entire 2016 draft for Kam Chancellor knowing we are one or maybe two big time defensive players away from being everyone's Super Bowl favorite, would you have done that? With the youth we have and the offense performing as it has and will for the next few years, I would do it in a heartbeat.

The whole notion of a team being "one player away" from winning a championship is a mirage. Don't believe me? Then find anyone involved with the Minnesota Vikings in 1989 when they decided Herschel Walker was their "one player away" and swung a trade with Dallas. For Walker, the Cowboys received a package including six of Minnesota's picks over the ensuing years, and those were used to draft Emmitt Smith and Darren Woodson, to use as currency in a subsequent trades that netted Russell Maryland and Alvin Harper. In other words, the trade for Walker did nothing for the Vikings while contributing largely to the Cowboys' three Super Bowl championships during the 1990s. The Vikings got Herschel Walker, and the Cowboys got a guy who would end up being the No. 1 rusher in the history of the NFL. The Vikings would've been better off picking Emmitt Smith themselves and keeping all of those other picks to fortify the rest of their roster. One player away? The concept is fantasy.

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