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Mel Blount drives the ball on the River Course as folks gather to play with football stars and legends during the 15th Annual John Stallworth Celebrity Golf Tournament Friday, June 2, 2017 at the Robert Trent Jones golf course in Huntsville, Ala. It was a chance to golf with Pro-Football Hall of Famers, former Pittsburgh Steelers and players from other NFL teams, and Alabama and Auburn alumni who gathered on the golf course. Proceeds from this event assist academically gifted students who are awarded scholarships to attend 4-year colleges and universities in the state of Alabama and A&M University. (Eric Schultz/[email protected])

By Skip Vaughn

An annual benefit golf tournament in the name of NFL Hall of Famer John Stallworth will end its run in June.

The 17th John Stallworth Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament is scheduled for June 14 at 8 at Hampton Cove in Huntsville. Proceeds from this event benefit the foundation’s work in providing scholarships for students at Alabama A&M University, Stallworth’s alma mater, and other colleges. More than $550,000 in scholarship assistance has been provided.
This is the last year of the tournament, but the foundation will continue its charitable work with activities such as the Legends Round Table.

The tournament usually has around 25 celebrities and about 150 other players. Hampton Cove has been the usual venue through the years.

“As we’ve gotten close to this final Stallworth golf tournament, I think back over the years of all the people who’ve played a part in this,” Stallworth said today at a news conference at Genesis II, which manages the Stallworth family’s investments and serves as an umbrella for his philanthropic work.

Stallworth said it fills him with joy to think about the students who “we’ve been able to help.” The scholarships have helped students who went on to graduate from college without any debt. Stallworth gives credit to the foundation, rather than just himself.

“My wife (Flo) is the heart of this organization,” he said. sports

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Brittney Christian, a scholarship recipient, shared her thoughts at last year’s tournament pairings party.

“They’re the only scholarship foundation that’s this family oriented,” she said. “They reach out. They know who we are as people. We’re not just somebody they give money to.”
Stallworth, drafted in the fourth round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, played from 1974-87 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002, the same year the charity golf tournament started. Among the perennial returning celebrities in Mel Blount, a former Steelers teammate and fellow Hall of Famer.

“I love coming to Huntsville and for a lot of reasons,” Blount said by phone during the press conference. “I think Huntsville’s a great place and a great part of the country. And also because of great people like John Stallworth and his wife, Flo, and the great work that they’re doing.”

Stallworth was asked about the celebrities’ golf skills during the tournament years. “They’re all football players, their golf game is nonexistent,” he quipped. But he did say two or three guys have “a really nice game.”

He explained why this year’s tournament is the last.

“I just feel like it’s run its course,” Stallworth said. “Our goal was to build an endowment and we’ve done that. It’s well over $ 1 million. It’s run its course. We feel it’s an appropriate time to stop.”

This year’s celebrities include Chris Anderson, John Banaszak, Blount, Robin Cole, Dick Conn, Randy Fuller, Reggie Garrett, Anthony Grant, Bobby Lee Harden, James Harris, Rashad Johnson, Frank Lewis, Louis Lipps, Greg Lloyd, Ronald McKinnon, Spike McRoy, Michael Merriweather, Edmund Nelson, Jerraud Powers, Donnie Shell, Richard Shelton, Dwight Stephenson, Cliff Stoudt, Tim Stowers, Mike Wagner (tentative) and Stallworth.

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The 17th and final John Stallworth Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament, which benefits the foundation’s work in providing scholarships for students at Alabama A&M University, Stallworth’s alma mater, and other colleges, was played Friday.

Stallworth, drafted in the fourth round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, played from 1974-87 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002, the same year the charity golf tournament started.

“I just feel like it’s run its course,” Stallworth said of the tournament’s end. “Our goal was to build an endowment and we’ve done that. It’s well over $ 1 million. It’s run its course. We feel it’s an appropriate time to stop.”
Eric Schultz
John Stallworth greets the celebrities and players gather at Hampton Cove to play in the final John Stallworth Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament at Hampton Cove Friday, June 14, 2019.
Eric Schultz
Dwight Stephenson signs an Alabama helmet for Gary Helton of Huntsville as celebrities and players gather at Hampton Cove to play in the final John Stallworth Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament at Hampton Cove Friday, June 14, 2019.
Eric Schultz
Celebrities and players gather at Hampton Cove to play in the final John Stallworth Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament at Hampton Cove Friday, June 14, 2019. Proceeds from this event assist academically gifted students who are awarded scholarships to attend 4-year colleges and universities in the state of Alabama and A&M University.
Eric Schultz
Bob Pro, with Polaris, talks to Robin Cole while waiting for the start as celebrities and players gather at Hampton Cove to play in the final John Stallworth Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament at Hampton Cove Friday, June 14, 2019.
Eric Schultz
John Stallworth shares a laugh as celebrities and players gather at Hampton Cove to play in the final John Stallworth Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament at Hampton Cove Friday, June 14, 2019.


Eric Schultz
Frank Lewis signs a Steeler’s hat for Bo Weld, of Huntsville, as Celebrities and players gather at Hampton Cove to play in the final John Stallworth Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament at Hampton Cove Friday, June 14, 2019.
Eric Schultz
Jon Farris, of Huntsville, shows off his Alabama gear as celebrities and players gather at Hampton Cove to play in the final John Stallworth Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament at Hampton Cove Friday, June 14, 2019.
Eric Schultz
John Stallworth sign autographs for Jackson Helton,, 10, and Lucas Smith, 9, as celebrities and players gather at Hampton Cove to play in the final John Stallworth Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament at Hampton Cove Friday, June 14, 2019.
Eric Schultz
Spike Mcroy on the green as celebrities and players gather at Hampton Cove to play in the final John Stallworth Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament at Hampton Cove Friday, June 14, 2019.
Eric Schultz
Celebrities and players gather at Hampton Cove to play in the final John Stallworth Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament at Hampton Cove Friday, June 14, 2019. Proceeds from this event assist academically gifted students who are awarded scholarships to attend 4-year colleges and universities in the state of Alabama and A&M University.

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Just up the Allegheny River from Heinz Field, above East Ohio Street, tucked into a curve on Troy Hill Road sits a building that produced scholars of distinction.

Among those who walked the halls of old North Catholic High School were Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA; former Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Allegheny County chief executive Dan Onorato and Bishop Anthony Bosco.

No one business, however, felt the impact of North Catholic graduates like the National Football League. Starting in the early 1970s, the Steelers weren’t the only ones from Pittsburgh building a dynasty in the NFL. So was North Catholic.

That tiny high school provided a pipeline to the NFL for scouts, general managers and personnel men like no other in America.

“Western Pennsylvania is really unbelievable,” said Art Rooney Jr. “Maybe Texas has them, but we had all these guys and so many from North Catholic high school.”

Rooney, one of five sons of the Steelers founder, is among them. He rose to the top player personnel position with the Steelers, and with Chuck Noll helped draft the players who fueled four Super Bowl winners. It included the greatest draft ever, 1974, that would put four in the Hall of Fame.

Another in the Hall of Fame is his brother, former Steelers president/owner Dan Rooney, who played quarterback at North Catholic.

But that’s just a start. Others include current Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert; his brother Bob became a college football coach who also worked with the Baltimore Colts and Washington Redskins; brothers Jack and Joe Bushofsky were longtime NFL personnel men; John Goeller was an NFL scout; Jim Boston became the Steelers’ top negotiator. Rip Scherer, who coached many of them in the sport at North Catholic, was a part-time scout for the Colts. Ron Hughes coached North Catholic football for six years and rose to the top personnel man with the Detroit Lions and later joined the Steelers. Tim Rooney, a cousin of Dan and Art Jr., headed the pro personnel scouting departments of the Steelers, Lions and New York Giants.

“North Catholic guys really popped up,” Art Rooney Jr. said.

North Catholic products became so prevalent in NFL scouting circles that a comment made by Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Finks was famous among them.

Finks, who played a little quarterback for the Steelers, was president of the Chicago Bears and while he was not a North Catholic grad, he was surrounded by them. The Bears, Steelers and other teams belonged to the BLESTO scouting combine, which was based in Pittsburgh and run for a longtime by ex-Steelers cornerback Jack Butler, also in the Hall of Fame.

At one of their meetings, Butler was introducing one of the new scouts he had just hired to work for BLESTO.

From the back of the room, Finks shouted out, “And what year did he graduate from North?”

Tim Rooney and Art Jr. love telling that story, and those two North grads planted the seeds for others to follow them into the NFL.

Art hired Tim, who was coaching Villanova, in 1972. The two developed a pro scouting program that paid high school coaches in the summer to grade film of other NFL teams. It provided the Steelers with a database of information for players around the league.

While they selected coaches from different high schools — former Steelers football operations director Tom Donahoe of South Hills Catholic/Seton LaSalle was among them — they naturally leaned on those from their alma mater.

They recommended some of the best of them to Butler, who offered scouting jobs with BLESTO to many. Among them was Hughes, lured away from his coaching job at North Catholic to come work for him.

Later, Tim Rooney would leave the Steelers to work for the Lions. There, he hired Hughes as a scout. After Hughes rose to the top personnel job in Detroit, he hired Kevin Colbert to join him. After Colbert became the Steelers GM, he hired Hughes to become his personnel director.

“Jack found a real wealth of talent there,” Tim Rooney said.

It was North Catholic nepotism for good reason.

“They were grinders,” Tim Rooney said. “When you worked for Jack you had to be a grinder. You didn’t make much. You showed up early and stayed late and had to get your work in. Those guys were real tough guys, worked hard. If you went to a school [on a scouting visit], they were the first in the door and the last ones out.”

But first, they walked through the door in the building at Troy Hill.

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Thomas Tull is about to fulfill a lifelong dream.

Tull – a brilliantly successful executive producer and minority owner of the Steelers – and his band Ghost Hounds will be opening for the Rolling Stones July 3 at FedExField.

“Ever since I was a little boy I loved two things: the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Rolling Stones,” Tull recently told Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “My favorite band from the first time I heard them. I think they’re the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band of all time.”
Steelers minority owner Thomas Tull observes the action with Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert. (Photo: Getty)
Tull has spent over a decade as a minority owner of the Steelers, his favorite football team since watching Mean Joe Greene and the rest of Pittsburgh’s legendary unit dispatch Fran Tarkenton and the Minnesota Vikings to win their first world championship in 1975. Tull is just old enough to remember the playing exploits of another fellow minority owner, John Stallworth, one of Pittsburgh’s two Hall of Fame receivers who helped the Steelers win four Super Bowls in a six-year span during the 1970s. Tull was just entering his teenage years when Stallworth caught the game-clinching touchdown in Pittsburgh’s final Super Bowl victory of the ’70s; a 31-19 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV.

Tull can often been seen at Heinz Field during Steelers’ home games wearing one of his favorite jerseys and watching the action up-close. Tull’s passion and dedication for the Steelers has been rewarded with a Super Bowl ring in 2009 and an AFC championship watch after Pittsburgh advanced to Super Bowl XLV. Tull has also been part of one of the most successful decades by an NFL team during the Super Bowl era. With one year to go in this decade, the 2010s Steelers have the 14th best winning percentage of any team for an entire decade since 1970. Including the postseason, Pittsburgh is 99-55-1 since 2010 for a winning percentage of 64.19 percent.

While his current principle business – Tulco, an investment holding company centered in Pittsburgh – keeps him busy, Tull has still been able to carve out time to pursue his childhood dream of music. Now, about a decade after the initial rendition of Ghost Hounds originated, the group will release an album later this summer. Collier wrote that one of the album’s songs, “We Roll Hard,” may end up being played inside Heinz Field on a football Sunday several months from now.

“Writing the album was a real joy,” Tull said of the experience. “A great process.”
A graduate of Hamilton College, Tull, who initially had planned to become a layer, instead went into financing. Tull’s career move paid off handsomely, as he quickly rose to President of Convex Group. But it was during his time as the Chief of Operations of Tax Services of America, a firm that invested in entertainment, when Tull began to learn the entertainment business. In 2003, he quit Convex and raised $600 million in equity to finance movies under Legendary Pictures, which entered partnership with Warner Brothers in 2003 to finance and produce films together. In 2009, Tull became the majority shareholder of Legendary. He then made a similar deal with University Studios in 2013. Tull has been part of several blockbuster movies, including the 2005 hit, “The Dark Knight.”

While Tull continues to live an active and entertaining life, it doesn’t appear that he will take over ownership of the Pirates anytime soon. The Pirates, at this writing, are 30-35 following their fourth consecutive deefat. Many Pirates fans have become disillusioned with the team given the ownership’s perceived lack of spending and going “all in” to bring a championship to Pittsburgh. They’re, basically, the Cincinnati Bengals of Major League Baseball.

“Things are always more complicated behind the scenes than people think,” Tull told Collier. “When you’re talking about somebody else’s entity it’s just really difficult because I would never want to come off as disrespectful or anything like that. I love the game of baseball and it was great to be here when the Pirates were in the playoffs because the energy for that first game against the Reds was something I’ll remember forever. I have good faith in the City of Pittsburgh and the Pirates.”

Tull will instead continue to focus on his businesses, his music and helping the Steelers bring back the coveted seventh Vince Lombardi Trophy.

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Ernie Stautner, the 10-time All-Pro defensive tackle who played for the Steelers from 1950-1963, had it lucky because he came along way before championships had become a calling card for the organization.

You might say that’s crazy. Why would a professional football player not want to play in an era where trophies aren’t just expected, they’re demanded? For starters, you see that picture on old Ernie’s Wikipedia page, the one of him standing with his Hall of Fame bust after being inducted in 1969? Let’s just say that, had he played from maybe 1988 to 2001, this picture might have been taken after his third or fourth time on the ballot.

Take Steelers’ Hall of Fame center Dermontti Dawson, who finally punched his ticket to football immortality in 2012, some 12 years after retiring from the NFL. According to his Wikipedia page, Dirt was a six-time, first-team All-Pro. He was named to the 1990’s All-Decade Team and was considered the best center of his era by many people who know a thing or two about that. But the voters still rejected him multiple times before he finally made it.


The Steelers didn’t win a fifth Super Bowl when Dawson was in Pittsburgh, so that might have had something to do with it.

That’s the thing about an organization which has established championship success — once it does, a player’s career is often defined by it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s like that pretty much everywhere. But I live in Pittsburgh, I’m a Steelers fan, and I know you kind of have your doubts about Antonio Brown, the receiver who’s on one of the greatest statistical runs in NFL history, complete with 582 receptions for 7,848 yards since 2013.

At age 30, Brown’s career numbers rival those of Jerry Rice at a similar stage of his career. No. 84 is unquestionably the NFL’s most dominant receiver since Terrell Owens. Brown may in fact be the most dominant player, regardless of position, in the NFL right now.
Yet, some people are like, “Yeah, I don’t know. He may need to win a Super Bowl or even two. If not, he may have to wait his turn before he can put on that gold jacket.”

And those people are likely right.

Owens had to wait his turn before he was inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer. In fact, he had to wait multiple times, something so infuriating to the poster child for diva receivers, that he decided not to show up for the event (as of now, anyway).

Think about that for a second. Owens caught over 1,000 passes for close to 16,000 yards during his career, and he was passed over for induction more than once.

Owens was no Rice, but in baseball terms, if Rice was Hank Aaron, then Owens was Willie Mays.

So why’d Owens have to wait?

He was a big jerk for one thing. But it also didn’t help that he never won a Super Bowl title.

Championships mean more to a player’s legacy in the modern era of sports than they did in Stautner’s time. Sure, they meant something back then, but the truly great players could pass on into immortality a lot easier without them.

Even the unquestionable greats such as Rod Woodson, a cornerback who played 10 seasons with the Steelers and was a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee in 2009, doesn’t get celebrated in Pittsburgh as much as he probably should for such a decorated career.

Woodson was so good, he was voted to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary team as an active player. Yet people are like, “Yeah, but I kind of have a problem with the fact that he never won a Super Bowl in Pittsburgh. Also, he left as a free agent and won a Lombardi with the Ravens. Sorry, Rod.”

Yeah, it’s like that now.

Character is a big thing, too.

Fans often celebrate Stautner’s legacy online by using his name or number when they visit various football sites.

”He was a great and classy man,” they say.

I’m sure Ernie was a classy dude, but that doesn’t mean he was a saint.

I mean, the guy would go out drinking with quarterback Bobby Layne and act as his bodyguard in-case, you know, they drank too much and trouble started. Heck, Myron Cope usually joined them on these little adventures, adventures that didn’t always end without police intervention.

Could you imagine if news broke that Ben Roethlisberger went out drinking with Cam Heyward, and Heyward often had to intervene when trouble started? Could you imagine if Tunch Ilkin was seen drinking with them?

Fans would lose their minds.

Actually, stuff like that does happen today (it used to happen with Roethlisberger a lot), and these days, people consider it wrong.

Forget drinking and fights, if a player is a bit too vocal on social media, it rubs people the wrong way (just ask JuJu Smith-Schuster in like five minutes).

In the modern era, championships are probably the greatest passport to immortality, and those legendary Steelers teams of the 1970’s changed the way we view legacies.

Anyway, you might think you’d still honor a legend like Stautner, had he played in this era and didn’t win a ring, but don’t be so sure.

If there’s one thing that’s changed since Ernie Stautner’s time, it’s that legacies aren’t cheap, and if you want one as member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, you’re damned-well going to have to earn it.

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Guest: How come you are late to your chat, Gerry?
Gerry Dulac: Technical difficulties

Guest: Any idea how JT Jones has looked in OTAs? Thanks!
Gerry Dulac: Haven’t watched him enough to give you an honest answer. But he has nice size.

Guest: What’s your prediction of the AFC North records after week 17?
Gerry Dulac: Steelers 11-5, Baltimore 10-6, Browns 8-8, Bengals 7-9

Larry in KY: If you had Ernie Stautner, Joe Greene, Aaron Smith and L C Greenwood in their prime, would you play a 4-3? It seems the reason given for a 3-4 has always been due to their personnel (solid LB’s). What comes first, the scheme or the personnel?
Gerry Dulac: That usually determines why a team switches to a 4-3 or a 3-4 — personnel. By the same token, a team might bring in a new coordinator who prefers one scheme over the other and finds the personnel to fit the scheme.
Steelers punter Jordan Berry congratulates Chris Boswell on a field goal last October against the Bengals in Cincinnati.
Brian Batko
Steelers punter Jordan Berry doesn’t want repeat of 2018
TK: Any initial impressions on Diontae Johnson during OTA’s?
Gerry Dulac: He just started doing team drills this week because of a hamstring injury so I’ll wait a little longer to see how he looks

cfl: Why don’t more US guys who can’t catch on to an NFL roster go up to the CFL to play? It is a good training ground and good money. Seems like it used to happen more. Diontae Spencer is in camp and was an excellent CFL player. Tebow should have gone there. Or Colin K maybe.
Gerry Dulac: I don’t know that answer because I don’t know how many players who are cut from NFL teams go to CFL.

Franco: Is Artie burns going to be a Steeler this season?
Gerry Dulac: I think so. He has one more year left with them and they have their fingers crossed he can help with depth. But I wouldn’t take it to the bank.

golf: Who is the best golfer from the last 25 years to not win a major? I’m thinking Kenny Perry.
Gerry Dulac: Lee Westwood

Ryan: Which rookie has impressed you the most in OTA’s so far? And which one looks like they have the most work to do?
Gerry Dulac: Sutton Smith most impressive, but then, so is Devin Bush. But I’m not going to get too excited from OTAs, which is why I’m not going to get disappointed how someone looks. Too early to really evaluate.

Big Ed : Hi Gerry! Just read a article from Ed over at the Athletic on Artie Burns. Do you think he is cut before training camp?
Gerry Dulac: Ed who?

Thomas: Has the clock begun on the Browns imploding? Day one of mini camp already has a few players mouthing off. It might be a fun season watching OAK, CLEV and NYJ being dragged thru the media like Steelers have been the last 2 seasons.
Gerry Dulac: Yes sir!
Steelers offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins goes through drills during OTAs Tuesday, June 4, 2019, at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
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Steelers’ right tackle competition ‘up for grabs’ as OTAs wind down
Big Ed : Who is the backup QB in 2019?
Gerry Dulac: Tough to say for sure because I think it would entail Josh Dobbs losing the job as much as Mason Rudolph winning it. But, I’ll say this, if Ben would get hurt and miss 3-4 games, I think Rudolph would eventually be the starting QB

BigBen7: Do you if know Ben was at Topgolf for that team building day they did? I didnt see him in any of the photos or video.
Gerry Dulac: I don’t know because I wasn’t there. I’m guessing he probably was.

KN: Hello. Thank you for the chat. Do you see TE Zach Gentry or Trevor Woods making the 53 man roster, based on what you have seen so far in the contact less practices ? Also does either Rudolph and Dobbs seems to have any advantage over the other for back up role in the OTAs so far ? Thank you very much.
Gerry Dulac: A chat person asked a little earlier if I saw a rookie at OTAs who has some work to do and I didn’t name anybody. But I think Zach Gentry falls into that category. Again, it’s way too early to start evaluating these guys — that will come at training camp — but Gentry has not exactly looked like Heath Miller so far.

Kaptain Kanada : I really think the Steelers are going to surprise some people this season! The health of the O-line will be a huge factor. How much depth do we have there?
Gerry Dulac: The Steelers are never a surprise team, everybody knows they’re always good because of No. 7, though I get your point. There isn’t an offensive line in the league that has good depth. Not one. But the Steelers actually do with BJ Finney and two young tackles. It is not a problem area

Guest: Anything worthy of note at OTAs on Marcus Allen’s contributions thus far?
Gerry Dulac: I like Marcus Allen, but based on his style of play, training camp will be more revealing what they have in store for him and how much he can help.

Kaptain Kanada : Do you see the Steelers adding a TE when camp cuts begin?
Gerry Dulac: I wouldn’t be shocked at all.

Steel Fan Dan: How big of a loss will Munchick be for O-line?
Gerry Dulac: You don’t lose a guy like that and think it’s not going to hurt the team. I don’t care of you hire his top assistant who knows his style and philosophy. Munch is priceless and irreplaceable. The good news is, the Steelers have a veteran offensive line that doesn’t need tutoring.

Franco: I couldn’t help to notice LB’s press conference with the Jets after finally showing up to camp. Everything he said was pertaining to HIM being in shape and HIM being good this year and not much at all about the team. With the “cleansing” as MT called it this year, was he referring to getting rid of the ME FIRST players and building a team first mentally and if so, in your opinion, are we close to having that this year?
Gerry Dulac: I’m done with LB and AB

Steelerbybirth: With Austin on board as a DB assistant do you know if Tomlin will be less involved during the game such as with calling assignments. I recall a game last year when he took responsibility for not getting the play called into the DB’s due to afgu
Gerry Dulac: Mike Tomlin is very involved with the defensive play calls and I don’t see that lessening any time soon, to be honest.

TK: If Watt or Dupree get hurt, who is the next man up at OLB?
Gerry Dulac: Anthony Chickillo, who, in case you missed, was given an $8 million contract in the offseason

Emilio: What worked for Jarivs Jones in college that did not work in the NFL? What could have scouts noticed?
Gerry Dulac: Work ethic.

Emilio: Would the Steelers be better off with only one QB of the future in their roster and an experienced QB as a backup?
Gerry Dulac: Maybe. Having two young backups is tough because neither has any true game experience. I tend to agree with you.

Steel Fan Dan: How helpful is it to bring in vets for coaching internships like William Gay?
Gerry Dulac: I always think it’s good to have former players around who can help the young guys with their transition to the NFL. As long as they remember they are no longer players and assume the role of being a coach/mentor.

Steeler Fan in Cleveland : With our lack of TE depth, does the former rugby player have a good chance of making the roster?
Gerry Dulac: Uh…well…not really

Steeler Fan in Cleveland : Our run defense hasn’t been particularly strong, dating back to the playoff loss vs. Jax. Why should we expect it to be better this year?
Gerry Dulac: Well, that’s what we’re going to see. But, whenever you play so much sub-package football with extra DBs, you always leave yourself more vulnerable to the run.
Gerry Dulac: OK kids, sorry for the late start, but have to get out to watch OTAs. See you next week.

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One of the longest-tenured members of the Steelers organization retired at the end of the team’s three-day minicamp, as coach Mike Tomlin announced on Twitter that equipment manager Rodgers Freyvogel has left the team after 39 seasons.

Freyvogel joined the team in 1980 as field manager and assisted former equipment manager Tony Parisi. Freyvogel was elevated to equipment manager in 1996.

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Mike Tomlin

Rodgers Freyvogel has been a mainstay with the team since 1980 and today he retired. Man I’m going to miss this guy. Good man who has devoted so much of his time to this team. Best of luck my man. Enjoy retirement.

3:28 AM – Jun 14, 2019
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Since then, he’s overseen “the purchasing, fitting, customizing, issuing and reconditioning of the Steelers equipment and uniforms,” according to his biography in the Steelers media guide.

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He also enforced the team’s unofficial retirement of several jersey numbers, including 12 (Terry Bradshaw), 32 (Franco Harris), 36 (Jerome Bettis), 43 (Troy Polamalu), 52 (Mike Webster), 58 (Jack Lambert), 59 (Jack Ham), 63 (Dermontti Dawson) and 86 (Hines Ward).

Freyvogel is a Pittsburgh native and attended North Catholic High School.

Patrick Noone has been the Steelers’ field manager and assistant equipment manager for the last nine seasons. The Steelers have not announced a replacement for Freyvogel.

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The Pittsburgh Steelers went heavy on the linebackers in the 2019 class after not taking one in 2018. They are looking for youthful players that are more built for today’s NFL at the position than Jonathan Bostic was in 2018.
The Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers have always been a source of pride in their defenses. From Jack Lambert, Jack Ham and Greg Lloyd to Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier and T.J. Watt the linebackers are the anchors of the defense in the Steel City.

They filled a huge need early in the draft taking Devin Bush at 10th overall, but they added depth with their sixth round pick. Ulysees Gilbert heard his name called as the 207th pick of the draft.

Gilbert is a very instinctive, yet, slightly undersized linebacker from Akron University. He put up back to back years in 2016 and 2017 of 120-plus total tackles and had four sacks in each season.

Despite not being the greatest cover linebacker, he managed to intercept three passes in college which all came in 2017. That season was, as a whole, his best season of his career at Akron.

The Steelers saw a nose for the football and pretty good speed in Gilbert and decided to make him their pick. He had a solid outing in the East-West shrine game posting 5 total tackles and a pass breakup.

Gilbert needed the good outing there to help get himself into the late day three conversation. He boosted his draft status at the Akron pro day as well – running a 4.51 40-yard dash and putting up 20 bench reps.

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Being undersized, Gilbert needs to find ways to be better in coverage to make a name for himself. He is an instinctive run supporter but his size may cause him to be eaten up by blockers at the next level.

He is not the most physical player I have seen before but he is very sound in his tackling technique. Gilbert displays great quickness and agility in the open field that is needed to bring down shifty runners in space in the NFL.

Coverage is the biggest and most glaring hole in Gilbert’s game. He has some man capabilities, but far too often his coverage breaks down. That cannot happen in the NFL from an inside linebacker these days.

Jonathan Bostic was a similar style player in that he was very good against the run but his coverage was nonexistent. Bostic, however, was older and slower than Gilbert so there is room for Gilbert to get going.
Gilbert is the prototypical, day three linebacker that the Steelers take. They love picking hardworking, productive players to develop as they see fit, but also guys who can land on special teams such as Tyler Matakevich or Anthony Chickillo.

NEXT: Steelers pass rusher T.J. Watt could have been an NFL tight end
The Steelers linebacker group has had to find itself again after the tragic Ryan Shazier injury. The draft and free agents like Mark Barron have this season feeling like they will finally have a cohesive and destructive unit on the field for this defense.

Cheap Jack Lambert Jersey

Thirty-five years after he retired from the NFL, Jack Lambert remains one of the most popular Pittsburgh Steelers legends, particularly on the memorabilia circuit.

A game-used jersey worn by the Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker during the 1982 season fetched $50,131 at a recent auction of Steelers memorabilia held by

Lambert’s jersey received the highest auction bid among dozens of items, mostly game-worn jerseys, by some of the Steelers’ most prominent former players. A 1981 Franco Harris jersey was second among the items with a $31,127 high bid. A 1976 Mel Blount jersey went for $30,326, and a 1980 Terry Bradshaw jersey sold for $28,297.

A portion of the proceeds from the Steelers items will be donated to the Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury Research. The auction concluded June 7.

The Steelers memorabilia was part of Lelands’ 2019 Spring Classic collection that resulted in a record bid for a 1914 Baltimore Orioles original team photo that included Babe Ruth. It sold for $190,373, a world record for a sports photo, according to Lelands.

A baseball signed by 11 of baseball’s original Hall of Fame Class in 1939 was auctioned for $236,389, a 1972 Bobby Orr game-worn jersey fetched $113,924, and Walt Frazier’s game-worn jersey from Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals with the New York Knicks went for $100,081.

Cheap Mike Webster Jersey

MIKE KELLEY FROM PHOENIX, AZ: One of my favorite players was Aaron Smith, a man who worked hard at his position without seeking to glorify himself, but to better the team. Have you heard anything about what he is doing?
ANSWER: What I can relay to you about Aaron Smith is what I learned from a story written by Joe Bendel that appeared in the Aug. 10, 2018 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. According to that story, Smith has lost 70 pounds from his playing weight and currently is an assistant basketball coach at North Allegheny High School, which is located north of the city of Pittsburgh. The following is a passage quoted directly from Bendel’s story:

“’I want to win a state championship,’ said Smith, who is down to 235 pounds. ‘That’s why I’m here. I’m not here just to pass time and just have fun with the kids. I want to win. I want to be the best.’

“Don’t get the wrong idea: Smith enjoys his time mentoring the North Allegheny interior players and overseeing the weight-training program. His mission, though, is to instill a championship mentality.

“’I approach this in the same way I approached football,’ Smith said. ‘I’m always watching videos, asking questions. I want to be the best coach I can be and give these kids the chance to be their very best.’

“Smith, 42, said basketball has always been his first love, going back to his days as an all-state player at Sierra High School in Colorado. But, because football offered the best route to athletic success, he attended the University of Northern Colorado, where he was part of a Division I-AA championship team.”

TIM SIVERD FROM SOUTH HILL, VA: I was surprised that we drafted a running back in the fourth round. I felt we were pretty deep at that position, and that was the least of our needs. What do you think?
ANSWER: The Steelers typically keep three running backs plus a fullback on their 53-man roster. Two of the three running back are James Conner and Jaylen Samuels, and the fullback is Rosie Nix. Who’s the No. 3 running back? Stevan Ridley was given a chance to be the No. 3 running back, but he fumbled too often. In the case of Benny Snell, I believe you need to look beyond just the position he plays to the manner in which he plays it. And the guy seems to be able to add a component to the backfield this current group is missing, which is a powerful runner who could be effective gaining yards on the ground when the other team knows the Steelers are going to be trying to gain yards on the ground. And the fourth round is the correct time to be adding the kind of player Snell is.

KEN MAULDIN FROM CLYDE, PA: The Steelers have not had a home opener since 2014. Does the NFL pay any attention to those kind of trends during scheduling?
ANSWER: What the NFL pays attention to in situations such as the one the Steelers have on the North Shore, meaning an NFL team and a Major League Baseball team sharing the same general geographic area and parking lots, is when the Pirates are at home or on the road during the months when baseball and football both are being played. This September, the Pirates are at home on Sept. 8 and Sept. 29, and so the Steelers are on the road on the first weekend of their regular season and then have a Monday night game at Heinz Field on Sept. 30.

DUANE ROBERTS FROM ALTOONA, PA: Is there a chance that Mark Barron ends up playing safety again since we drafted Devin Bush?
ANSWER: I really, really, really hate these questions so many readers have been submitting that pose a question in the form of “is there a chance” or “what are the odds?” I am not an oddsmaker, and life has taught me that with the exception of things that either are physically impossible or against the laws of nature, anything is possible. That said, when Mark Barron was a defensive back during the first couple of years of his NFL career, he played strong safety. Terrell Edmunds is the starting strong safety.

ANDREW SCHERBIK FROM DELRAN, NJ: I know that the Steelers have retired two jersey numbers – Ernie Stautner’s No. 70 and Joe Greene’s No. 75. Why is that? If they do retire another number, I think it should be Mel Blount’s No. 47.
ANSWER: Your contention that No. 47 should be the next jersey to be retired is one of the arguments for refraining – at least for a while – from adding to that exclusive club that so far counts only Ernie Stautner and Joe Greene as members. There are nine players from those great teams of the 1970s who are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the Rooney family appreciates each of them. Mel Blount certainly would be a good choice, but so would Franco Harris, Jack Ham, and Jack Lambert. And that list doesn’t even include Terry Bradshaw. Where to start? Where to stop? Should it only be players from those 1970s teams? Mike Webster? What about Jerome Bettis? My personal belief is this conundrum is one of the reasons behind the Steelers coming up with the idea of a Hall of Honor as a way to identify and memorialize forever the great players and key contributors in franchise history. Because retiring all of those jersey numbers just isn’t practical, primarily because of the rules the NFL has regarding which numbers certain position players are eligible to wear.

ROBIN WALDRON FROM VERO BEACH, FL: Been a Steelers fan for ages. Former student Nehari Crawford is attending camp, and I was wondering how he is measuring up?
ANSWER: Nehari Crawford, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound wide receiver who played his college football at Duquesne University, attended rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. At the conclusion of the weekend, he was not offered a contract by the Steelers.

MITCHELL LONG FROM DURANT, OK: Had there been any consideration about signing Eric Berry? He’s not as young as he used to be, but it’s hard to ignore a name like his just sitting in free agency, and he would add quality depth and a good veteran presence to our defensive backfield.
ANSWER: You’re attracted by the name and reputation and not realizing the toll injuries have taken on Eric Berry. Based on his nine seasons with the Chiefs, Berry could have played in 144 NFL regular season games, but because of injuries he was able to play in 87. One season after making the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Berry, now 30, tore his ACL in the first quarter of the opener, ending his season. That was the first of four seasons during his nine years in Kansas City that he missed almost an entire season. In 2014 season, he was diagnosed with lymphoma; his 2017 season ended after one game because of a torn Achilles, and he played in just three games in 2018 because of an ailing heel. Of the last 34 games during his time with the Chiefs, including playoffs, Berry played in only three.
MITCH HUTTON FROM WILMINGTON, NC: Do you think the Steelers should’ve taken a chance on Darron Lee? I think he has huge upside and also can replicate Ryan Shazier’s athleticism plus he’s young and possibly could’ve replaced Jon Bostic.
ANSWER: In case you missed it, the Steelers traded up 10 spots in the 2019 NFL Draft and picked Devin Bush, whose speed and agility performance at the Combine were similar to Ryan Shazier’s; he won’t celebrate his 21st birthday until July 18; and he did replace Jon Bostic.

CAL SABO FROM AKRON, OH: What is the status of Jake McGee?
ANSWER: Jake McGee, a tight end from Virginia who was trying to earn a spot with the Steelers in 2018, tore an Achilles during that year’s OTAs, and he wasn’t tendered a contract by the team after spending 2018 on injured reserve. I don’t believe he has signed with another NFL team.