Asked and Answered: June 6 (2024)

Let's get to it:

AMOS MEYERS FROM ORO VALLEY, AZ: Following up on Cam Heyward winning the 2024 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award: With Russell Wilson and Cam on the same team, has there been another time when a franchise had two active winners on the same team?
ANSWER: I didn't comb through the rosters of all of the winners of an award that first was presented in 1970, but I can tell you that having Cam Heyward and Russell Wilson on the same team as active winners of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award isn't a first even for the Steelers. Franco Harris (the 1976 winner) and Joe Greene (the 1979 winner) were on the same Steelers roster in 1979 and 1980.

DAMIANE SCOTT FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: Who is the Steelers longest tenured assistant coach in franchise history?
ANSWER: Dick Hoak was an assistant under Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher from 1972-2006 (35 seasons), and John Mitchell was an assistant under Cowher and Mike Tomlin from 1994-2022 (29 seasons).

JOSH HARRINGTON FROM NAMPA, ID: Regarding the signing of Cam Sutton, is it more of a veteran presence to help others, or a "welcome back" signing.
ANSWER: The way I view it, the signing of Cam Sutton, a 7-year veteran cornerback who has played 101 regular season games and 4,263 snaps in those games, and who will play the 2024 season as a 29-year-old, brings onto the roster some needed depth at cornerback in general and a starter in the slot in particular. Reports have the contract as a 1-year deal, and when vested veterans are signed to 1-year contracts at this point in the NFL calendar it's usually for a minimum salary. From a football standpoint, this move strengthens the roster.

MICHAEL BICE FROM BELLE FOURCHE, SD: How many Steelers are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
ANSWER: There are different numbers out there when it comes to this question, especially with the NFL's older franchises because there are situations "back in the day" when more than one franchise are able to "claim" a particular player or coach. When it comes to the Steelers, a reasonable number of Hall of Famers is 28, and that includes Art Rooney Sr., Dan Rooney, John "Blood" McNally, Bill Dudley, Walt Kiesling, Bobby Layne, Ernie Stautner, Joe Greene, John Henry Johnson, Jack Ham, Mel Blount, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, Chuck Noll, Mike Webster, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Rod Woodson, Jack Butler, Dermontti Dawson, Jerome Bettis, Kevin Greene, Bill Cowher, Troy Polamalu, Donnie Shell, Bill Nunn, and Alan Faneca.

DAVID LaVECK FROM ROCHESTER, NY: When will Training Camp dates be announced? Does the number of days available to the public ever fluctuate or is it a set number each season?
ANSWER: I would look for the 2024 training camp dates to be announced on Steelers.com and the team's various media platforms around July 4. And when it comes to how many and which days are open to the public, the number can vary based on the amount of time the team spends on campus.

THOMAS HUELSSNER FROM WOELLSTADT, GERMANY: In an interview with a German sports platform, Julius Welschof said that he also had calls from other teams before and during the NFL Draft, but that the Steelers were in contact the most. I think that interest and the chance to train with the best at his position are the reasons he went to the Steelers. Can you say something about his performance during OTAs? How do you see his chances to get on the final roster?
ANSWER: Julius Welschof is 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, and he's listed by the Steelers as an outside linebacker. He graduated from FOS Altoetting in Altoetting, Germany, and before coming to the United States he played for the Munich Cowboys, a club team in Germany, where he was a defensive end and tight end. Rated by ESPN and 247 Sports as the top prospect in Germany, Welschof attended the University of Michigan and played for the Wolverines from 2018-22 before finishing his college career with Charlotte in 2023 where an injury cut short his only season with the 49ers. As for OTAs, I'm not capable of assessing his performance/progress to date, and if he's to have a chance at making the 53-man roster at the end of the summer I would believe it would happen after he became invaluable on special teams in addition to showing progress in learning and processing the defensive system. What's also a possible avenue for Welschof would be to earn that 17th spot on a team's practice squad that's reserved for players who are a part of the International Pathway Player Program.

BILL ANDERSON FROM LOUISVILLE, KY: Since sacks didn't become a recognized stat by the NFL until 1982, is there any way to determine how many sacks the Steel Curtain really had in the years before 1982?
ANSWER: Since the NFL didn't recognize sacks until the 1982 season, any compilation of numbers before that era are projections or guesses gleaned from what's essentially unofficial review of game films. For example, Deacon Jones, the Hall of Fame defensive end who played from 1961-74 and actually coined the term "sack" is listed with 173.7 "unofficial" sacks. But on the "official" all-time list, he is not mentioned. Numbers aside, rest assured that during the 1970s, the Steel Curtain – the original members being Dwight White, Ernie Holmes, Joe Greene, and L.C. Greenwood – was feared and a very productive component of the best defense of that decade.

LEON KULINSKI FROM OIL CITY, PA: Did Mark Malone have a 90-yard receiving touchdown for the Steelers? Who was the quarterback for that play? Is it the longest receiving touchdown in franchise history?
ANSWER: On Nov. 8, 1981, Mark Malone, playing some wide receiver because of a rash of injuries at the position, caught a 90-yard touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw in a 24-21 loss to the Seahawks in Seattle. It's not the longest receiving touchdown in franchise history; in fact it's tied for fifth in franchise history. JuJu Smith Schuster twice caught 97-yard touchdown passes from Ben Roethlisberger, in 2017 and again in 2018; Roethlisberger threw a pair of 95-yard touchdown passes – to Mike Wallace in 2011 and Martavis Bryant in 2014; and Kordell Stewart to Bobby Shaw in 2001 covered 90 yards as well. In 1990, Bubby Brister to Dwight Stone covered 90 yards, but it was not a touchdown because Stone couldn't stay in-bounds during his run-after-catch.

TERRY SUCHMA FROM SOUTHPORT, NC: I understand that teams cutting a player after June 1 can spread any remaining "dead money" over two years. But I also thought that players cut prior to June 1 can be designated as "post-June 1" cuts with that same "dead money" spreading. Is that "designation" thing still the case?
ANSWER: Yes. Here is an explanation of the June 1 designation that appeared on Pro Football Talk: "Prior to the 2006 revision to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams that cut a player before June 1 had to take the full remaining cap acceleration immediately. That prompted plenty of teams to carry a veteran player on the roster until June. It resulted in an annual second wave of free agency, with players hitting the market after the first wave of free agency and the draft. From the perspective of media outlets that covered the NFL, post-June 1 free agency was not a bad thing. As of 2006, teams acquired the ability to release up to two players each year before June 1 (and after the start of the new league year), with a post-June 1 designation."

DENNIS NEVINSKY FROM ERIE, PA: Is the Steelers Hall of Honor Museum only open on special occasions? Does it cost anything to get in?
ANSWER: During the 31 days between June 6, which is today, and Saturday, July 6, the Hall of Honor Museum is open on 22 of those days. It's closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, plus the Fourth of July. Admission is $18 for adults; $15 for Seniors and Military; $12 for kids ages 6-17) and free for kids under-5. A portion of the proceeds go to the Art Rooney Scholarship Fund that was established in memory of the Steelers founder. The money annually provides a grant to a North Catholic High School student and funds the Pittsburgh Promise scholarships.

STEVE GEORGE FROM OHIOVILLE, PA: I worked with a man named Bernie Sims from1978 to 1981. He told me that he played running back for the Steelers after playing football at Duquesne University. He said that he didn't make enough money to support his family. My neighbor was John Petchel. I saw him in a Steelers team photo. Do you have any statistics for either of these men.
ANSWER: There is not a Bernie Sims listed on the All-Time Roster contained in the Steelers Media Guide. As for John Petchel, he was a single-wing blocking back who played in 26 NFL games, with 5 starts during the 1942, 1944, and 1945 seasons for the Rams and Steelers. During his career, Petchel rushed 8 times for 11 yards (1.4 average) and also caught 4 passes for 84 yards (12.0 average) and 1 touchdown. In 1945, he played in 9 games with 2 starts for the Steelers.

DENNIS MILLER FROM AKRON, PA: With the large contract that Justin Jefferson just signed with the Vikings, how do teams stay under the salary cap? They can't pay everyone those huge numbers, so does that make for some animosity on the team?
ANSWER: There are a lot of creative ways to manage an NFL salary cap, and the people who are the shrewdest and most creative earn big money from teams to handle such things. I'm sure there have been times when a big contract caused some animosity in a team's locker room, but more often the other players recognize the talent and work and dedication that went into an individual getting the big money, and they use it as motivation to get a similar contract for themselves.

JIMMY ENGLISH FROM DROGHEDA, IRELAND: Can you shine any light on the status of Irish placekicker Mark Jackson, who tried out for the team during the Rookie Minicamp? Is there any sign of him getting signed?
ANSWER: Mark Jackson was not signed by the Steelers to their 90-man roster coming out of Rookie Minicamp, and at this point I see it as unlikely because the team already has two veteran NFL placekickers under contract (Chris Boswell and Matthew Wright). Having a third placekicker would qualify as a waste of a roster spot, because there is just no way to carve out enough practice reps for all of them.

Asked and Answered: June 6 (2024)

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