Questions and Answers: December 5

ZACH RAVES FROM SCOTTSDALE, AZ: In the December 2 episode of Asked and Answered, you mentioned about the 1970s draft that “a team had unlimited rights to every player they drafted”. Can you explain this please and how it differs from current projects?
ANSWER: Back in the days before the NFL adopted free agency tied to a salary cap – before 1993 – after a player was drafted by an NFL team and then signed his rookie contract, this player was owned by that team for much of his entire career, unless he was cut or traded by the team that drafted him. So when the Steelers used the first overall pick in the 1970 Draft on Terry Bradshaw, they could have allowed him to sit on the bench for three years before putting him on the field without worrying about exercising an option of fifth year or potentially losing him via free agency. Knowing that a player had no freedom of movement during his career was a huge advantage for teams in the days before unrestricted free will. None of those Hall of Fame players of the 1970s – Joe Greene, Mel Blount, Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Mike Webster – had the opportunity to purchase his services. on the open market. Think about it for a minute.

VINCE AZZARELLO OF WEIRTON, WV: All of that talk about music in the locker room reminded me of the story of Joe Greene who settled a debate years ago about music played in the locker room. I forget where I read it, but I was hoping you knew and could share with your readers how he handled the problem.
ANSWER: You read it on, contained in a column I wrote to commemorate Joe Greene’s 75th birthday, which was celebrated on September 24, 2021. Here is the relevant section of that column:

“The reason why Greene deserves to be recognized as the most influential player in Steelers history has to do with the way he commanded respect in the team’s locker room where he served as a de facto sergeant. Weapons Greene was the player extension of Coach Chuck Noll, and he made sure everyone was aware of Noll’s post.

“To illustrate this, I turn to Myron Cope, who recounted the following anecdote in her memoir, titled“ Double Yoi! ”It begins with an introduction / portrait of Cope of Ernie“ Fats ”Holmes, then what follows is that of Holmes’ interaction with the undisputed team leader of the Steelers.

“Fats weighed around 300 pounds at a time when 300-pound soccer players were still scarce. He preferred Courvoisier, a French brandy, and was known to drink it like beer. Plus, NFL players knew him. like, well, wayward and no man to play with… From his right tackle position in the steel curtain, Fats half-defeated his opponents before they threw their first block.…

“Greene, who hailed from college football known as Mean Joe Greene, was the only Steeler Fats to fear. On the mornings of the home games, stereo music was blaring in the locker rooms, but Jack Hart, who wore the title of Field Manager, said turned off the stereo half an hour before the team entered the field for warm-ups. One Sunday morning when Hart turned off the stereo, Fats walked across the room and turned it back on. Hart said: “Ernie, you know that’s the order the stereo is off ‘- and once again turned it off. Fats turned it on again. At this point Joe Greene got up from his stool. He ripped the stereo wiring from the wall. That was it. “

CHARLES GOLLMAR OF KENNESAW, GA: One of the theories at the start of the season was that it would take time for the offensive line to gel and improve, and for fans to be patient. From my admittedly uneducated point of view, it feels like a bit of a roller coaster ride, with some good sections interspersed with bad ones. With two-thirds of the season over, do you think the offensive line has shown the expected improvement over the season, or is it a longer term process than a season?
ANSWER: I don’t know what the “expected improvement” was supposed to look like, but for my part what I believed was that the offensive line would be better by Halloween than it was at the start. of the season. I think it has come true to some extent, but as you mentioned in your question, there has not been constant improvement. I also think anyone who expected five new offensive linemen – either new players or players in different roles from 2020 (and the rookie center having been a goalie in college) – would only need more. ‘a season to grow into a strong NFL squad. things with too much optimism. Such a wholesale rebuild should take more than a season.

JARRETT RICKERDS FROM KNOXVILLE, MD: How important do you think it will be for the 2021 rookies to have an offseason with a legitimate nutrition plan and an NFL-caliber strength and conditioning program? I know Dan Moore Jr. and Kendrick Green have come under a lot of criticism, but they have a lot of benefits, and it’s never an overnight fix. Could there also be potential to add / draft another lineman to help accelerate the youth movement on the line in 2022?
ANSWER: Obviously, an offseason on an NFL nutrition and strength training program can be of great help to the development of these young offensive linemen, and I think it is just as It’s obvious the Steelers will be adding new pieces to the squad this offseason, whether they’re veteran free agents or draft picks.

DEREK LUCAS OF CLAYTON, GA: I misheard the announcers last week in the Browns-Ravens game and thought one of them said the teams faced each other again this week. It got me wondering if any teams should play back to back, except for the last week of the regular season, and then during the first round of the playoffs?
ANSWER: Not in the modern age.

JIM HUMPHREY FROM TOWNSHIP, OH: In your recent article “Labriola on an Ugly Loss Story” how come you couldn’t include Tim Worley’s debut and 51-0 home embarrassment at the hands of the original Cleveland Browns in the 1989 Season Opening at Three Rivers Stadium? And then of course the follow-up a week later, a 41-10 loss to the Bengals at Riverfront Stadium)? I agree though, as bad as Cincinnati has been this year, it was indeed far from the worst ever.
ANSWER: The first two games of this 1989 season have been referenced so, so many times that I thought I would dig a little deeper and provide more examples – and please understand that I have presented examples and not a definitive list. I have a story about those first two games of the 1989 season that you might find funny: after the second of those losses – that of Cincinnati, which meant the Steelers had just lost the first two regular season games to two. teams within their division by a 92-10 – director of football operations Tom Donahoe got out of the elevator at Riverfront Stadium at the end of the game and bumped into Chuck Noll, and they fell at the same pace while walking towards the locker room of the Steelers. Noll turned to Donahoe and said: “We just played against the top two teams in the AFC, or it’s going to be a long year.” As everyone knows, the Steelers have won nine of their next 14 games, qualified for the playoffs as a Wild Card, defeated the Oilers at the Astrodome in overtime in the Wild Card Round, and moved on. next to a lost pass in the Divisional Round to upset the Broncos in Denver next week, 24-23.

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