Asked and Answered

The best of Asked and Answered: July 14

With Bob Labriola enjoying a summer break, we've gone through recent editions of Asked & Answered and selected a few memorable questions…and answers.

Let's get to it:

November 25, 2021
LOU MANN FROM ASHKELON, ISRAEL: Do you know approximately how much Terry Bradshaw's best contract was worth?

ANSWER: For a story that appeared in Parade Magazine, Terry Bradshaw said his first NFL contract (signed in 1970 as the first overall pick of the draft) called for a $100,000 signing bonus to be paid over 10 years, plus a $25,000 base salary for 1970 that rose to $30,000 in 1971. For his final NFL season, which was 1983, Bradshaw reportedly was paid $470,000.

April 28, 2022
CASEY MCDONALD FROM MONTGOMERY, AL: I know personally I thought Limas Sweed would be the next Plaxico Burress, but I was way off. Who was a player you were super high on, who then ended up not living up to the hype?

ANSWER: I've been involved in covering NFL Drafts long enough to know what I don't know, which when it comes to projecting college players into the NFL is a lot. But I also will admit to thinking that Jarvis Jones, who led the Southeastern Conference in sacks during each of his final two seasons at Georgia, was a solid choice in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. After a freshman season during which Jones was a backup, he led the SEC with 13.5 sacks in 2011 and then followed that up with an SEC-lading 14.5 sacks in 2012. In 26 games over his final two seasons at a top program against the best competition in college football, Jones had 28 sacks, two passes defensed, and an interception. That he would turn out to be such a disappointment in the NFL never crossed my mind.

May 3, 2022
GREGORY EDGAR FROM STUDIO CITY, CA: When was the last time a Steelers undrafted rookie free agent became a true NFL starter, and who was it?

ANSWER: I have no idea what makes an NFL starter a "true NFL starter," but here we go (in reverse chronological order: Matt Feiler started 40 games for the Steelers at left guard and right tackle; Robert Spillane has started 11 games at inside linebacker; Alejandro Villanueva started 90 games at left tackle; Chris Hubbard started 14 games at right tackle; James Harrison started 107 games at outside linebacker; Doug Legursky started 17 games at guard and center; Willie Parker started 60 games at running back; and if being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is what constitutes a "true NFL starter," Donnie Shell started 162 games at strong safety, and Jack Butler started 102 games at cornerback and safety. And that's only scratching the surface of a long list.

April 28, 2022
TODD HALL FROM HAMPTON, VA: Do you think Mason Rudolph has a chance to be the starting quarterback this season? Will it be a real competition, or is that the party line being used and it's actually Mitch Trubisky's job?

ANSWER: The starting quarterback job is an important one, and Coach Mike Tomlin never has come across as a coach who believes in anointing someone as opposed to having that player earn his spot through a competition. I could see Tomlin maybe making Mitch Trubisky No. 1 early in the training camp process, but even if that would happen, I believe it would be done with the idea of seeing how Trubisky reacts to that designation and how it impacts his approach/performance, while also seeing how Mason Rudolph reacts to a bit of adversity right off the bat. There might be some head games played to varying degrees, but even if that happens it would be part of the competition.

November 30, 2021
DONNIE BROWN FROM VAN BUREN, ME: Najee Harris has shown everyone why the Steelers used a first round pick to get him. How do other notable Steelers rookie running backs compare in stats through their first ten games? Jerome Bettis wasn't drafted by the Steelers, but he is always on the list.

ANSWER: Najee Harris became the first rookie running back in franchise history with at least 1,000 yards from scrimmage in his first 10 NFL games (685 yards rushing and 337 yards receiving for 1,022 yards from scrimmage). In the first 10 games of his rookie season, Franco Harris had 841 yards from scrimmage (730 yards rushing and 111 yards receiving). And maybe Jerome Bettis is on your list, but he doesn't belong on this one because his first season with the Steelers was his fourth season in the NFL and comparing a fourth-year pro to a rookie is comparing ripe apples to green apples.

May 17, 2022
JASON NORTON FROM JOHNSTOWN, PA: It's funny how people are saying that Kenny Pickett is going to be voted Offensive Rookie of the Year. He hasn't even won the starting quarterback job yet. Even Ben Roethlisberger started his rookie season as a No. 3 quarterback. My memory is a bit foggy on how all those dominoes fell into place (for him to start). Can you remind me?

ANSWER: When training camp opened in 2004, the Steelers brought four quarterbacks to Saint Vincent College, with the depth chart arranged this way: Tommy Maddox, Charlie Batch, Ben Roethlisberger, and Brian St. Pierre. Not very long into training camp, Batch sustained a knee injury that would land him on injured reserve, and Roethlisberger moved up one spot to No. 2. That turned out to be a crucial development, because it got Roethlisberger more repetitions in practice and also more repetitions with better players in practice. The regular season began with Maddox as the starter, and in the opener, a 24-21 victory over the Raiders at Heinz Field, the Steelers offense was, to be kind, mediocre. The win was powered by a plus-3 turnover ratio and a bizarre stat line turned in by Jerome Bettis, in which he finished with 5 carries for 1 yard and three touchdowns. Maddox completed 13-of-22 for 142 yards, with no touchdowns, no interceptions, a 78.2 rating, and he was sacked twice. The next week, Maddox was injured in Baltimore, Roethlisberger took over since he was in uniform as the backup quarterback, and the second-most successful era in Steelers history began.