Kamen from Bethel, CT
Vic, to be clear, the Supreme Court doesn't design the law, just interprets it. Whether or not sports gambling is moral or ethical is inconsequential to the question of the federal ban's constitutionality.
The Supreme Court is the conscience and ultimate authority with final say on all legal matters in this country. They passed the buck on this one.
Martin from Tisovec, Slovakia
Vic, I was thinking about last season. To piggyback on the discussion from last year's draft, how would you compare Kevin King and T.J. Watt?
Watt was the better player last season. That was obvious. King will have a chance to become the better player this season.
Tom from Vista, CA
Vic, how does a young reporter gauge the line between overly intrusive and letting readers know something important? When does a young reporter become seasoned?
Young reporters need to pay their dues, just as young players do. Paying their dues for young reporters means standing by their stories, regardless of how unpopular they are.
Tom from Appleton, WI
In evaluating a draft prospect, what's more important, technique or raw talent?
In my opinion, a first-round pick should look good in the shower. In other words, he should have the physical ability to improve his play. Often, guys with great technique have maxed out; they don't get any better. Scouts tend to favor physical upside; coaches tend to favor great technique. That's always been the rub between scouts and coaches, and I favor the scouts' view when it comes to prospect evaluation.
Jim from Maple Grove, MN
Vic, did you ever cover a great Packers team while you were in Green Bay? If so, what made the team great? If not, what was missing for greatness?
I don't think it's possible for a salary cap era team to be considered great, relative to the great teams of the pre-cap era. Simply put, teams in the salary cap era can't employ as many great players on their rosters as the great teams of the pre-cap era did. As I've written, in the salary cap era it would be Taylor or Hornung, not both; it would be Gregg or Ringo, not both; it would be Nitschke or Robinson, not both. The 2014 Packers were a complete football team. They had it all, relative to the salary cap era in which they played. Oh, but for those last four minutes.
Joshua from Philadelphia, PA
Vic, you've encountered and interacted with an incredible amount of people. You tell stories of these interactions and the lasting impressions they've had on you. Do you still maintain strong relationships with any of these people?
I was in Jacksonville this past weekend for a member-guest golf tournament at Sawgrass Country Club. I was fortunate to have a surprise meeting with Tony Boselli in the grill room. It felt wonderful to see an old friend whose words filled so many of my stories. I love the old guys.
Dave from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, old Mountaineer Field in Morgantown is my favorite Stadium of all time, too! So many great memories for me as a Mountaineer fan. It was the ultimate small, old-bowl stadium. Tony Dorsett called it a “Snake Pit.” Were you at the 1975 Pitt vs. WVU game when West Virginia kicker Bill McKenzie beat Pitt with a 38-yard field goal with four seconds on the clock? That is my fondest memory of that grand old stadium.
I remember it well. Bobby Bowden said it might've been the biggest win of his career because without that win he doubts he would've gotten the Florida State job.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, will Aaron Rodgers get his fairy tale ending with the Packers?
Those kinds of endings are few and far between. I covered Dan Marino's last game, a 62-7 loss in the playoffs. Terry Bradshaw's fairy tale ending was an elbow injury that left him to wobble two touchdown passes before leaving the field forever. Peyton Manning won the Super Bowl in his final game, but his performance was so poor it was difficult to watch and hardly fairy tale like. Brett Favre's fairy tale ending was a trade and controversy that left half of the fan base that loved him angry at him. Joe Namath finished on creaky knees in Los Angeles, across the country from where his fairy tale began. The worst final act, however, belongs to Johnny Unitas. I covered it in 1973 when, back in his hometown, where his fairy tale began on a Pittsburgh sandlot, he was benched at halftime in a blowout. It was painful to watch Unitas stumble into retirement wearing lightning bolts on his helmet instead of the Colts horseshoes he made famous.
Mark from New London, WI
Is the value of the pass rusher on the verge of declining? With the short passes, mobile quarterbacks and offensive linemen rules, it seems like the ability to mitigate a premium pass rusher is easier than beating a shutdown cover corner.
Rushing the passer has never been more important, because the sooner the quarterback is forced to throw the ball, the less likely it is he'll throw the ball deep and make a big play. Pass defense begins with rushing the passer. First you rush, then you cover.
Leif from Frederic, WI
Vic, with the draft behind the Steelers and not committing an early pick to the running back position, what do you think the Steelers do about Le'Veon Bell? Do you think the lack of a high draft pick gives him leverage?
The Steelers need to turn to James Conner and the power running game. The Steelers need to become the Steelers again.
Chad from Troy, MI
Vic, with all states now permitted to allow sports gambling, will this be good or bad for the sport, and why?
Gambling would destroy football, just as it once destroyed college basketball. Why? Because gambling corrupts.
David from Danville, CA
Which book gave the most compelling insiders portrayal of its respective sport, Ball Four by Jim Bouton or Instant Replay by Jerry Kramer?
Bouton's description of Yogi Berra scratching himself over a table of cold cuts is the most realistic portrayal of a postgame locker room in sportswriting history.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
What did you like most about the three teams you covered?
I liked the Steelers' toughness. They played football their way. They imposed their will on their opponents and it made for great writing because the players believed in it, reveled in it and loved to talk about it. The Steelers teams I covered had a personality like no other teams I've covered. The Jaguars were new and searching for an identity. They quickly found it. They were the anti-Steelers, and I liked that about my new team because it created a great contrast between the two stages of my sportswriting career and made for writing I enjoyed. The Packers were new in a completely different way. The team from the smallest market in the NFL was in no way mom and pop. The Packers are the epitome of corporate efficiency. Covering them involved formal guidelines and I came to appreciate the manner in which the Packers operated. It helped me get a feel for the new NFL, which is to say a more antiseptic approach to covering the league.
Anthony from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, you offered the Packers' success will come at the heels of their addiction to Aaron Rodgers. Is Joe Philbin the guy to do that? From 2007-2010, the offense was known to have a late-season running game surge.
Generally speaking, cold-weather (outdoor stadium) teams turn harder to their running game late in the season. The 2014 Packers, the best Packers team I covered, had a dominant running game late in the season. It's what Mike McCarthy wants. Focus on Coach McCarthy. It's his team. He calls the shots.
Adam from Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Vic, what are your thoughts on the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on sports gambling?
Gambling is an opioids-like threat to our culture. If allowed to operate without regulation, gambling will collapse wagerable athletics and create a devastating subculture. The Supreme Court got this one wrong.
Isaac from Nashville, TN
Vic, one thing you didn't mention in your assessment of Capers' tenure: inside linebackers. When I think of really successful 3-4 units from the last few years, they always had one or two top-flight ILBs. I think Capers had some decent players at that position in Green Bay, but never better than decent. Am I reading that right?
I think you are. Most pundits would tell you inside linebacker is a two-down, grunt position -- the outside linebackers are the true stars of the 3-4 defense -- but here are some of the names of inside linebackers I've covered: Levon Kirkland, Chad Brown and Hardy Nickerson. Ryan Shazier played inside linebacker in a 3-4; so did Ray Lewis. The Packers' inside linebackers have been the two-down type. They couldn't rush or cover and, frankly, I didn't think they were all that good against the run, either. The team didn't value that position enough to address it -- other than A.J. Hawk -- which I thought was a mistake because low in the draft order is where you find the good inside guys. You can even find them affordably in free agency. James Farrior was a free agency bargain. In my mind, if you're going to play a two-gapping, 3-4 defense, you can't stop the run without top inside linebackers, as the Steelers proved late last season after Shazier was lost to injury. And if you can't stop the run against the Vikings, you won't have to worry about stopping the pass because Mike Zimmer won't stop running it. The Packers need to get better inside.
John from Peoria, IL
Vic, I need some help. A restaurant in my burg offers southern cuisine with which I'm not too familiar. I see they sell shrimp and grits. Got any advice on how I should order that particular plate?
It's simple. You get shrimp, and you get grits underneath it. The only thing I would suggest is ask if you have to peel the shrimp. If they come peeled, don't order it.
Bob from Mystic (wherever that is)
"Ask Vic" is the most credible news site of any I follow. Thank you for this gift.
"Ask Vic's" greatness is great.
David from Hilliard, OH
Vic, love your takes on the Packers' upcoming season and the Rodgers addiction analogy. My question is about the recent passing of Chuck Knox. He was always one of my favorite head coaches in the league. Did you ever have any contact with him? Any stories to share?
Coach Knox is from Sewickley, Pa., a town just outside Pittsburgh. He'd chastise his players with "That's sixth-grade Sewickley." Coach Knox liked to run the ball, and I like coaches who like to run the ball. What I came to find out is Coach Knox also liked a little gamesmanship. It goes back to training camp 1978, when Coach Knox traded a tight end named Paul Seymour to the Steelers for wide receiver Frank Lewis. Seymour flunked his Steelers physical -- fallen arches -- and the Steelers tried to return Seymour to Buffalo and nix the trade, but Coach Knox claimed the trade was not contingent on Seymour passing his physical -- Coach Noll claimed it was an unwritten rule all players had to pass a physical to finalize a trade -- so Coach Knox refused to return Lewis to the Steelers. It was good writing. A little gamesmanship is always appreciated. The two teams opened the season against each other in Buffalo. Thank you for the memory, Coach Knox.
Omar from Morelia, Mexico
During your time in Jacksonville, did you ever have any exotic visitors in your yard, like gigantic alligators?
I owned a house in Jacksonville Beach that included a retention pond on the property. I got a phone call in the press box from my wife, who said we had an alligator in the pond next to the house. We were in the process of selling the house and closing on another one, and I told her to call Bubba (the licensed alligator hunter) and get him to get that alligator out of the pond. The house closing was a few days later and Bubba had yet to arrive. When the deal was done, I asked the closing attorney, "Is this over?" He assured me it was and the house now belonged to the new owner. I said to the new owner, "Soon, a man with a gun, a rope, a large hook and a chicken will be coming into your yard." The guy gave me a puzzled look. "Congratulations! You are the proud owner of a 10-foot alligator."
Kevin from Stillwater, MN
I read as much Packers coverage as I have time to. I've noticed there's much antipathy towards Bob McGinn. I don't understand it. His reporting on the hire of Gutenkunst seemed right on to me, and I've enjoyed many other articles written by him. What's the deal?
Bob is as good as they come. If you don't like reading Bob, you're looking for a friend, not the truth.
Dave from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, recently you answered a question about the Jaguars that you never understood the fascination with the goofy Duval County reference to Jacksonville and that only Jags fans get it. Well the rest of us think the same thing of the Steelers fans and their silly yellow towels. We don’t get it if we’re not from Pittsburgh. By the way, Steelers fans get the Duuuval chant! At least the few thousand that stayed for the end of the game at Heinz Field last season. My brother, sister in-law, nephew, nieces and sons in law can attest to it! They stayed and confirmed that I did hear Duuuval in the television in the fourth quarter.
Sam from Sussex, NJ
What are your feelings toward regret? Do you have anything you currently regret but would like to remedy before your time is up? Do you have anything you regret but the time to remedy it has passed? I very much appreciate your opinions on both football and life, so thank you.
We all have regrets. I regret not having spent more time with my family. The Packers regret having blown a 19-7 lead with 3:52 to play in the 2014 NFC title game. Some regrets can't be fixed. You live with them.
Jim from Maple Grove, MN
Vic, the most extraordinary thing about the 2010 season I remember is the Packers never lost a game by more than one score, and I want to say they never trailed by more than one score. How extraordinary is that, especially on this side of the 1978 rules change? How did this team compare to the 2005 Steelers?
Neither one was great. They just got hot when it counted.
John from Jefferson, WI
Vic, you mentioned the owners traded away the game in return for the money. Was it worth it?
We'll find out the next time they have to negotiate a CBA. What's left to give?
Brian from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, in your newspaper days, when the NFL had an offseason, what other things did you cover? What were your favorites besides football?
When the season ended, I covered basketball. I covered a St. Johns-Pitt basketball game (the Chris Mullins team) the night my youngest son was born. In the spring, I covered the Pirates. I covered some U.S. Open golf tournaments and I was in the press tent at Oakmont the night O.J. went for a ride in the white Bronco. "Why are they showing a white Bronco on TV?" I said to reporters parked in front of the press tent TV. I had just come in off the course, where the heat was so stifling Colin Montgomery nearly died. "O.J. is in it," came the answer. "Why is TV showing a white Bronco with O.J. in it?" I tried again. "Because O.J. is a fugitive from the law," came the answer. I sat down and watched the white Bronco on TV until they made us leave the tent. One year I was covering the PGA at Oakmont when they announced in the press tent Pope Paul had died. Myron Cope struggled with his hearing and he was shocked by the news. "He was just a young man," Cope said. "Huh," came the reply. "Boog Powell. They just said Boog Powell died." Being a sportswriter means I never had to work a day.
David from Madison, WI
What do you think about James Franklin's comments about exiting the Pitt-PSU rivalry game to ostensibly better his team's strength of schedule rating for the CFP? Has he no shame?
It is also Joe Paterno's shame he cost the state of Pennsylvania its most intense and treasured rivalry. Shame on Penn State for what it's done! The "Grand Experiment" is garbage. One day, I hope they meet again in a meaningful game, and I hope Pitt nails Penn State to the cross on which it belongs.
Kabir from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
A recent article cited Ben Roethlisberger's evolution from game manager to field general. What are the distinctive characteristics of one versus the other? How does one recognize when a quarterback has made that transition?
Roethlisberger's time as a game manager was short-lived. In year three of his career, he went from 2,385 yards passing the previous season to 3,513 yards passing. From that point on, he was "The Man."
Jason from Loganville, WI
Vic, what would you say was the best advice someone has given you in your lifetime?
Joe Greene told me, "Take the high road."
Mark from New London, WI
If forced to choose, would you rather watch World Cup soccer or the royal wedding?
How about watching Webb Simpson play 18 holes of golf without anyone challenging him?
Ben from El Paso, TX
Not a question but a sincere thank you. The response to the fact/fiction question I asked was fantastic. It reminded me that during the weeks leading up to the 2013 game in Chicago was when I discovered your column. I have been reading it ever since. In my opinion, you got it right.
We live for the drama.
Fed from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, when will fans get a clue. I remember hearing you on the radio in one of your last seasons in Jax. Someone asked you about Torry Holt (who had signed with the Jags at the end of his career), if he would help the young receivers. His answer was, "I'll help mentor them, all right. I'll mentor them right to the bench." Isn't this Big Ben's mentality? Shouldn't it be?
It's absolutely the right attitude.
Pat from Seneca, SC
Do you have any favorites among college football stadiums?
Old Mountaineer Field at West Virginia is my favorite.
Todd from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, if the Packers make the playoffs, NFC championship game, Super Bowl, win the Super Bowl (one of these scenarios), do the readers get to admonish you for your prediction this year is a Packers rebuilding year? Or is the ego too damaged?
Do as you please -- I think my ego can handle it -- but first let's get the facts straight. I've gone on record as saying this is not a rebuilding year. That's too strong a word. No team with Aaron Rodgers as its quarterback is rebuilding. My expectation, for lack of a better word, is for the Packers to be a playoff contender. To go beyond that at this stage, in my opinion, would be foolish. This is from the book What Happy People Know: "Happiness depends to a significant degree upon expectations. If you inflate your expectations, you're begging to be unhappy. Happy people keep their expectations under constraint." I consider myself to be a happy person. Why do you choose to be unhappy?
Jonathan from St. Joseph, MO
Who's to blame more for the disconnect between players and media? Coaches or the Internet?
The popularity of the game is to blame. Pro football has become so popular it no longer needs the media to help promote it. Once upon a time, baseball was the national pastime and football was the college game. Back then, the media was treated lovingly, for the obvious reason. "Write anything you want; just spell the name right," was the NFL's PR mantra. These days, the media is treated as an intruder, regardless of what it writes. Football has its own kingdom. It walks through a different door than everybody else. Once upon a time, we all walked through the same door.
Nathan from San Diego, CA
What’s your early take on the talent on Green Bay’s defense this year vs. last year?
It's decidedly better. The Packers spent their first three picks in this year's draft on defensive players, and they added a big-time defensive lineman in free agency. The big difference, in my opinion, is the Packers' first two picks this year were picks 18 and 45; last year they were picks 33 and 61.
Paula from Minneapolis, MN
I found an article about George Atkinson's defamation suit against Chuck Noll. It said calling it a three ring circus would be charitable. Did you cover the Steelers then? Any thoughts you would like to share?
Yeah, I covered the Steelers then and I'll never forget the Monday press conference when I heard Coach Noll utter the immortal words, "criminal element." For the record, Atkinson was just a tool in the legal process. Al Davis was the driving force in the lawsuit. He used he lawsuit to drive a wedge between Noll and at least one of his players, Mel Blount. The league was concerned about the appearance of one team suing another team. It didn't bode well for Pete Rozelle's leaguethink philosophy. My concern was for the No. 1 law of the mass media: Public figures are subject to public criticism (New York Times vs. Sullivan). If the Raiders had won that lawsuit, the precedent could've become crippling for the American free press. Fortunately, justice prevailed.
Nick from Oswego, NY
Just bought my first house, and now I need to buy my first mower? Any suggestions?
Don't buy one with a bag attachment.
Aaron from Wausau, WI
I became a football fan after the 2011 CBA came into effect. You've mentioned it several times, so I'm curious. How have you seen it change the game and the league?
The players gave the owners the money concessions they wanted. The owners gave the players the game.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Vic, in regards to the Packers, what will you be watching for the most in training camp and through the first three preseason games?
All eyes will be on the defense. I suspect Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine will test his young cornerbacks with man coverage and in challenging matchups, to see how much they can handle. We should get a pretty good read on the young guys (King, Alexander and Jackson). They hold the key to improvement on defense.
Mike from Somerset, WI
Vic, there have been comments Green Bay's best offseason acquisition has been Mike Pettine. This implies it's Dom Capers' fault for the defensive failure. Did Capers' scheme become outdated?
It was "outdated" long before he came to Green Bay. The zone blitz was fresh in 1994, during its Blitzburgh days. NFL coaches don't need 23 years to figure out how to attack a scheme. When Coach Capers came to Green Bay, Charles Woodson was at the top of his game, Nick Collins was a playmaking safety and Clay Matthews was a new star on fresh legs. That's why Coach Capers' scheme was successful early in his time as Packers defensive coordinator. Why did it begin to fail? In my opinion, there was a sharp decline in talent. Look at the cornerbacks he was given: an undrafted guy with concussion problems, a baseball player who played safety in college, and a basketball player with one year of football experience. Two of his high-pick defensive linemen -- Jerrell Worthy and Datone Jones -- were busts, and the Packers have struggled to find a pass rusher to complement Matthews.
Tim from Sun Prairie, WI
Do you agree with McCarthy that DeShone Kizer would have been a 2018 first-round pick if he had stayed in school last year?
I don't. Lamar Jackson was the last pick of the first round of this year's draft, and I consider Jackson to have been a much better prospect than Kizer.
Kristian from Denmark
Vic, when you say "restorative year," what do you think needs to be done/ added to the team for it to be less dependent on catching breaks, to more reliably move into championship territory?
It needs to get off its Aaron Rodgers dependency addiction. Since the Packers won the Super Bowl in 2010, everything has revolved around Rodgers. The Packers have been a one-man team, but if you look back at the 2010 season, you'll see the Packers held opponents to seven or fewer points six times. Yeah, they won with defense back then, not just with Rodgers. The Packers need to win games with something more than Rodgers' right arm. The Packers need to win with defense and the running game. That's what I mean by restorative. They need to restore the overall strength of their roster.
Chris from Lexington, KY
Yahoo Sports recently released offensive tweets posted by Josh Allen back in 2012 and 2013, when he was in high school. The tweets aren't even on his account any longer. In your opinion, is this fair news, or unethical reporting?
It's mean spirited, but the truth is the pure defense. This falls under the category of "some mistakes we never stop paying for." It also just happened to a young reporter covering the Carolina Panthers.
Mike from Bridgeport, CT
Jags vs. Pats at 4:25 is going to be CBS and Chatty's featured game. It's as good as prime time and will be nationally televised. A fun, challenging schedule for the boys from Duval.
"Boys from Duval" is a reference to the Jaguars and Duval County. I've never understood the fascination with the reference to Duval County. It's kind of goofy. Nobody outside of Duval County knows what it means. You're right about the schedule.
Don from Oak Creek, WI
What was the biggest change in the way you covered stories and/or approached your role as a journalist covering a team from your first years in the business to your final years in the business?
The creation of the Internet allowed me greater freedom in framing a story because I wasn't faced with newspaper space and tense constraints. With the Internet, I could write and post a story now and then replace it with a new, updated version an hour later. During my newspaper days, I had to write in the future perfect tense because stories had to be written for, at the least, a 24-hour shelf life, and I never knew how circumstances might change before I wrote my next story. Sometimes circumstances changed as the newspaper was being printed.
John from Sioux Falls, SD
We've got some time to kill until things get interesting again, so let's go back in time a little bit. What did you think of the book Paper Lion by George Plimpton, when it came out? Great inside look at the pro game of the '60s? Or did you see it as a gimmick? Many thanks.
It didn't interest me a whole lot because it was clearly contrived and wasn't an accurate representation of whatever it was the book was trying to portray. I read it as a kid, but even then I knew the book lacked believability. It was good for people who didn't know the book was baloney. The book reached out to the casual fan, and the NFL needed more casual fans for the league to become competitive with baseball and college football, so I'll give the book credit for helping to drive pro football's surge in popularity.
Jeremy from Jacksonville, FL
While it's been continually upgraded, the stadium in Jacksonville is approaching 30 years old (half of it is even older than that). This was briefly touched on during the state of the franchise presentation and it piqued my interest then, and even more so after the Wembley deal was announced. Do you think the team and the town will start planning a rebuild, or is the Jags' time in Jax limited to the remaining life of the "Gator Bowl?"
Eventually, a new stadium will be built in Jacksonville, but I don't think that time is near at hand. First of all, Everbank Field offers competitive revenue streams, including suites, clubs, the Bud Zone, etc. The facility also offers a large footprint, which has allowed it to upgrade the grounds adjacent to it to accommodate the team's training needs. The locker rooms and signage have been updated, so I don't see a deficiency other than the stadium's original problem, that it yawns too much side to side, which causes its upper decks to be distant from the field and giving the stadium a less-than-intimate feel. Everbank has served Jacksonville well. It's housed the Jaguars for 23 years, hosted a Super Bowl and continues to be the site of the Florida-Georgia game. It also possesses something else: a big piece of my heart. I have fond memories of the 16 years I worked in that stadium, and I look forward to visiting it next November.
Jerry from Savannah, GA
Vic, what’s the story behind the picture of you on the airplane? Who took it?
I'm on the bus on the way to the airport following a game in my final season covering the Packers, which would've been 2015. A co-worker took the picture and sent it to me. I know it's my final season -- it might even be my final game -- because I'm not wearing a tie. In the last few games of my career, I decided not to wear a tie. Hey, what are they gonna do, fire me? I quit, right? My goal was always to have my game story and column written and posted before the wheels were up on the plane. As this picture is of me on the bus, I can confirm I was writing my game story. I always saved my column for last, as writing the game story helped me achieve perspective.
Beau from Lancaster, PA
Vic, fans often use "we" when referring to their favorite team. Did you use "we" when you were employed by your three teams?
I was employed by the Packers and the Jaguars. I covered the Steelers for a newspaper. I have never, ever referred to a team I was covering as we or us. To do so would be an embarrassment to me and an insult to my profession and my colleagues, and it would be a betrayal of my readers' trust. The teams I've covered wouldn't have liked it, either. I always believed they wanted me to be a credible link to their fans, and I don't know how a media member can achieve credibility with the fans by surrendering his or her objectivity. In my opinion, any fan who wants a media person to refer to his or her favorite team as we or us is looking for a friend, not the truth.
Dave from Chippewa Falls, WI
Would you have gone for two against the Cardinals?
No. I consider that to be an act of desperation and it's just not in my personality to let it all ride on one play. That's not to say I don't understand why a coach would go for two in that situation, because I can make a strong case for doing it. I just don't like the desperate quality of it. I think it sends a bad message to your team that could have a lingering effect on its performance.
Anthony from Chicago, IL
Vic, I don't quite have a question, just a quick story I think you'll find pretty cool. I work for a family-owned company in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago as a mattress salesman, and every once in awhile I have an athlete stop in to buy something. A couple of days ago, I had a gentleman walk in to buy a couple of pillows. While writing up the order, he mentioned his name was Taylor Gabriel, the receiver that was just signed by the Bears. While we were chatting in the store, I had another guest who was looking to purchase a bed for her daughter, who is blind. As we were going over pricing, the guest was visibly upset, saying she couldn't afford the mattress she wanted. Overhearing this, Mr. Gabriel stepped in and decided to buy the mattress for her. Both of us were stunned, and my other guest was so happy she was brought to tears. Needless to say, even as a Packers fan, I will be rooting for Mr. Gabriel to make a Pro Bowl this year. Also, thank you, Vic, for enlightening me to some of the more subtle nuances of this beautiful game.
Ben from Chicago, IL
What football topics interest you these days now that the draft has occurred?
This is speculation time, and any and all versions of speculation are permitted and justified. Free agency is over, the draft has been concluded and we have a pretty good idea of what each team will be taking to training camp. Opinions are what interest me from now until kickoff on opening day, at which point the baloney stops, except I won't say baloney.
Leif from Frederic, WI
Vic, best and worst pick from the Steelers draft.
I think Mason Rudolph will become the Steelers' best pick. I think he immediately upgrades the backup quarterback position and I think there's a strong possibility he can become "The Man" when Ben Roethlisberger retires. Terrell Edmunds, the Steelers' first pick, might be their worst, but only because the feeling is they reached for him. The Edmunds situation is interesting. The Steelers obviously fell in love with him and have a particular role in mind for him. I suspect he's going to be used as a "box safety," which means the Steelers would go light at linebacker. The other safety the Steelers drafted, Marcus Allen, is a similar type of big, heavy hitter. Still, Kevin Colbert wouldn't have reached for Edmunds if he didn't have reason to do so. I suspect he had information that another team was hot on Edmunds for the same reason the Steelers were, and would've "reached" for Edmunds, too.
Ben from El Paso, TX
For a sports journalist, where is the line between covering drama and creating it? How has it changed since you started your career?
If you're referring to the difference between fact and fiction, the truth has always been the line that separates the two. The truth is the pure defense. Otherwise, I know of no such line because I've never created drama, only found it in circumstances that otherwise would've gone unnoticed. As a reporter allowed to get close to the team and cover it on a daily basis, I consider it to be my obligation to find the drama and present it to my readers so they might more fully appreciate the game we love. I've written about a journeyman receiver named Johnnie Dirden, and how he described to me his attempts to hide from "The Turk" on cutdown days. Dirden was acting out a somewhat daily drama. His story gave my readers a feel for the intensity of training camp. The Aaron Rodgers saga in 2013 is an example of drama. I didn't create it, but I made sure I heightened it and sensitized my readers to it. Why? Because it was real. My reporter's instincts told me, "Vic, get this right because we are heading for something dramatic and defining." Would you agree the game-winning touchdown pass against the Bears was such a moment? I saw the lights explode!
Jake from Knoxville, TN
In terms of roster-building, offenses and defenses are both placing ever greater emphasis on versatility. What do you think is going to be the next step in the strategic progression of the game?
I think we're headed for multiple quarterbacks in the game at the same time, the result of college football producing so many run-pass types. It would be a scheme nightmare for defenses to face a two-quarterback set, since one of them would be the equivalent of a running back, or even a receiver. If I was a head coach, it would be one of my offseason projects. I'd ask my offensive coordinator to create a two-quarterback series of plays. I don't think the Steelers went far enough with the "Slash" stuff. I think there's a lot more left in that concept, especially if you have two quarterbacks with that kind of run-pass ability. In time, I think that will become the norm.
Jeff from Sun Prairie, WI
What do you think the NFL would be if players could sign anywhere they want coming out of college but there was still a salary cap?
The rich, glitzy teams would grab the headlines and slowly destroy their caps. The meek would inherit the earth.
Dave from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, you’ve covered some terrific wide receiver tandems, including the great Steelers Hall of Famers Swann and Stallworth and the Jaguars' Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell. I saw the former play on television and the latter play every home game live in Jax from 1996-01. What are your thoughts on these two dynamic receiving duos?
I had this conversation with Keenan several times. I would tell him the big difference was Swann and Stallworth won four titles. Swann and Stallworth were each big-play, long-touchdown-pass receivers, whereas Keenan was the consummate possession receiver, but I also saw Keenan make a lot of big plays with possession receptions. Keenan and Jimmy got the stats, Swann and Stallworth got the rings. That's the big difference.
Aaron from Wausau, WI
What were some memorable Joe Greene quotes?
"Don't you understand? There's some honest to God human confrontation going on out there."
Eric from Lansing, MI
Tell us a memory about the NFL you don't write about.
It's from 1977. I was a young reporter sitting at a table in a San Diego restaurant with some big names in my profession. Through the door walks Pete Rozelle, who sees our table and walks over to say hello. He begins going around the table and shaking each guy's hand, acknowledging them by name. I'm thinking to myself, "This is going to be embarrassing; he's not going to know my name." When Pete gets to me, he says, "Hi, Vic, how are you?" I never felt better in my life.
Justin from Canton, NC
Vic, I couldn't agree more on players having an edge. When did it change? When did fans start wanting their players coddled more than coached and pushed? Imagine if our bosses all kept our feelings at the forefront of their minds and not the profit margins. I loved your quote from Poslunszny from his childhood. A lot of us that played had a moment like that at some point.
Fans want to believe the players feel what the fans feel, but they don't and they shouldn't. Fans feel love. Love doesn't win football games. Tom Coughlin once fined a player (Ben Coleman) for walking down the hallway with me and laughing. Coughlin said it was "out of media time." Seeing it angered me, he added, "Hey, I don't want guys walking around here with smiles on their faces."
Dan from Golden, CO
"If Mayfield isn't the Browns' starting quarterback by midseason (I think it'll be earlier), the Browns will have made a terrible mistake." Couldn't disagree more. The Rams waited on Goff, who was way more groomed and ready to start than Mayfield, and that seemed to have been a huge benefit to him.
Coach, the Browns didn't win a game! The Rams were competitive. How about the Eagles and Carson Wentz? If the first overall pick of the draft can't play on a team that didn't win a game, worry will quickly replace optimism.
Rich from Grand Rapids, MI
Pettine coached under Rex Ryan, whose dad (Buddy) created the "46 Defense" because, in his words, his team was not good enough to get pressure with a three or four-man rush and "if we have to send eight, we'll send eight, but we're not going to let you sit back there and pick us apart." I'm not suggesting the "46" is in the Pack's future, but it sure is easier to send more than four (or even five) if you have the cover guys behind it. If you can't rush, then cover. I am hopeful for a sea-change in the Pack's pass defense fortunes.
Back in the Buddy Ryan days, the league still permitted defensive backs to cover, so you could hold your coverage long enough to sell out to the blitz and not get burned. I don't know if it's possible to cover receivers that way in today's game. Look at the Jaguars. They had the top cover corners in the playoffs and they got clobbered by Roethlisberger and Brady. The "46" the Bears played was the equivalent of "Cover Zero," and you can't play that in today's don't-touch-the-receiver game. In my mind, disguising coverages and blitzes is the key to pass defense in today's game. Show blitz and drop, show coverage and blitz. The quarterback must be confused, and the quarterback must be confused badly.
Tom Elk Port, IA
Vic, perhaps you’ve answered this question before, but when and why did the draft get whittled down to seven rounds. Is seven the right number?
The seven-round draft is a product of the salary cap era. It's the number of rounds to which the players and owners agreed. Yeah, I think it's the right number. Undrafted free agents are the equivalent of extra rounds of the draft.
Ben from El Paso, TX
Who was the most memorable rookie you covered or interviewed?
Tony Boselli was a rookie who played and talked as though he was a five-year veteran. In his first-ever game, he stoned Sean Jones. Boselli was immediately one of the best pass-blockers in the league. In the locker room, he was a sensational interview. He loved to talk about football and his grasp of the game was the equal of his talent for playing it. He immediately became a go-to player for me. Tom Coughlin nailed it with his selection of Boselli as the second pick of the 1995 draft.
Paul from Cumming, GA
I'm surprised by Big Ben's indignance at the Steelers' decision to draft a quarterback. Does Ben need a spelling lesson from Hollywood Henderson?
Roethlisberger is showing his insecurity. It's what drives him and I don't think the Steelers are surprised or upset one bit their quarterback has acquired an edge about the selection of Mason Rudolph. Why do fans think it's the team's duty to pacify the quarterback? A chip on the shoulder has always served Aaron Rodgers well. It's an edge game. Every player needs one.
Tom Bismarck, ND
A positive spin on our backup QB situation has come from Cleveland's head coach. This year's No. 1 draft pick, Baker Mayfield, will not be starting for the Browns. Instead, Hue Jackson will be going with Tyrod Taylor, presumably because Mayfield isn't quite ready for the NFL. That would lead most to believe he thought Kizer was ready coming out of college. Any true Packers fan should then recognize the Cleveland QB guru thinks our backup QB was more NFL ready than this year's top draft choice. Neat. Please explain why I'm wrong?
Your logic is a little twisted. Would Kizer have started over Taylor? The real error in your theory is you're buying into Jackson's baloney. If Mayfield isn't the Browns' starting quarterback by midseason (I think it'll be earlier), the Browns will have made a terrible mistake.
Jerry from Savannah, GA
Vic, who’s a past or present QB who equals Big Ben’s drama level?
That's easy: Terry Bradshaw. Brad rose from the dead better than any quarterback I've ever covered or seen play. He left a playoff game against the Colts in the first half with an injury everyone thought was game-ending. When the two teams came back out onto the field for the second half, no Brad. A few minutes later, he came sprinting out of the tunnel and didn't miss a down the rest of that game or in the postseason until Larry Cole knocked him unconscious on a long, game-clinching touchdown pass to Lynn Swann in Super Bowl X. With Brad, everything was dramatic, including his final game in 1983. The day before the game, on the way to practice, he told me he couldn't throw at all. He said he wouldn't raise his arm above his shoulder at practice, and he didn't. The next day, in the final NFL game ever played at Shea Stadium, he drove the Steelers 80 yards and threw a touchdown pass, and then drove them 79 yards and threw a weak and wobbly touchdown pass, and as he left the field he said to Chuck Noll, "I'm done, Chuck." He never played again. The thing about Brad is he was so tough you never knew where reality began and ended. His flare for the dramatic was exceeded only by his toughness. One week after breaking his left wrist, he was under center wearing a cast. I remember him rising from the dead in St. Louis in 1979, much as he did against the Colts in the '75 playoffs. Roethlisberger has that same flare for the dramatic, but his toughness is without question so we never know where the real Roethlisberger begins and ends. I'll never forget Cincinnati fans showering him with debris as he was carted off the field (I think he was being carted) in that infamous playoff game a few years ago, following a pile-driving tackle by Vontaze Burfict. Everyone figured Roethlisberger was done, but he rose from the dead and led the Steelers on that wacky game-winning field goal drive. He's every bit as quirky as Bradshaw and I love it. The game needs flavorful characters.
Rey from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, do you miss asking questions to the players? Did you have a signature question and, if you did, who answered it best?
I don't miss interviewing today's players; they've been gagged by their teams and don't have much to say. "I just want to contribute" doesn't work for me. My signature question was: "What are your thoughts on (today's game or whatever the subject is)?" If a player wouldn't or couldn't answer that question, then I moved on to another player. Why waste time interviewing a player who has no thoughts? Lots of guys were good at answering the question. Joe Greene was probably the best. Joe always had thoughts and they were always quote worthy.
Brad from Basalt, CO
Vic, in an era when average time from snap to release is in the 2.3-second range and looking to get quicker, can an edge rusher even get to the quarterback in time? Is pressure up the middle becoming more important?
Pass rushers get their sacks on the few times the ball doesn't come out quickly. Pressure up the middle has always been important because you don't want the quarterback stepping up in the pocket, you want him stepping out of the pocket.
Alden from Jacksonville, FL
You always mention, "Get 'em good or get 'em gone." You should check out an article called "Age Played A Bigger Role In The NFL Draft. It’s About Time." It's about how draft prospects are getting younger due to the rookie wage scale instituted by the NFL. What do you think about this?
The article suggests younger is better, though in a somewhat twisted way. What I would say is teams are relying more on the draft than ever before because it's the most effective means for keeping your roster young and your salary cap manageable. Since the 2011 CBA, it's not only a young man's game, it's an affordably priced young man's game.
Dan from Waupun, WI
Will the Jacksonville tax payers have to pay more tax to help Khan buy a new stadium? Will American tax payer money be used? We see it with companies like McDonalds. Sports is cashing in on more free (tax) money. I hope Trump closes the hole.
Kal from Redondo Beach, CA
I've read more than once that CB Josh Jackson is primarily a zone coverage guy. He squats. What are your thoughts on that assertion, and what type of coverage does Coach Pettine favor?
Most good defenses have a shutdown corner and a squat corner. The shutdown guy is in man coverage -- Revis Island is a good way of saying it -- and the zone corner squats or stops at 10 yards and gets help over the top from the safety. Having used three high picks on corners in the last two years, I have to believe the Packers will find a shutdown type among the three, which will allow them to squat on the other side. The irony of that system is the squat guy is usually the one that makes most of the interceptions and touchdown returns because he's in position to jump routes.
Curt from Grants Pass, OR
I'm a little surprised at the Saints' first-round maneuvering. Did they stumble on a player whose value was much more than 14th, or is this the sound of the train warming up to leave the station?
When a team trades away a first-round pick in the next year's draft to move up in this year's draft, it's for one reason: They believe the player they've targeted is a difference-maker. Clearly, the Saints are in love with Marcus Davenport. Hey, the Saints drafted pretty well in 2017. Maybe they know what they're doing.
Alex from Arvada, CO
Your expectation of this upcoming season being restorative was quite shocking. The way I see it, the defense is much stronger (on paper) with a new, young and proven coach, better front line, better corners and two new pass rushers (Biegel and Gilbert). On offense, they get Aaron back (who was 4-1 before the injury) with his two new running back weapons, and swap an old and slow wide receiver with a still fast and athletic nightmare to cover tight end. And you can't underestimate getting Philbin back; you know how well that offense played when he was coaching. What am I missing here?
James from Fleming Island, FL
I had the opportunity to watch a replay of the Jaguars/Steelers divisional playoff game again. It's strange Big Ben didn't received much attention for the great game he played.
He might be the most underrated quarterback in NFL history.
Steve from North Hudson, WI
Which of your three teams had the best overall draft?
I think Tony Pauline would say the Packers had the best draft, and I would agree due to the first-round pick the Packers acquired in the trade with the Saints. Be that as it may, the Steelers picked a quarterback, Mason Rudolph, and because of the importance of that position, the Steelers' draft has strong upside potential. I applaud the Steelers' decision to begin preparing for life after Roethlisberger. It may require several picks before they find their next quarterback, but you're not going to find him without trying.
Thierry from Paris, France
Vic, I keep reading Jaire Alexander is playing bigger than his size. I like the two cornerbacks drafted by the Packers, however, you used to say to be cautious of this type of player, as the game already is physical enough for big guys. Should we be concerned or just enjoy his other skills?
Prior to the rules changes of 1978, cornerbacks were measured for their physical toughness because they were integral in run support and pass coverage was all about jamming receivers in the bump-and-run technique. These days, cornerbacks are judged by their ability to mirror receivers. Today's cornerbacks are basketball defenders. They have to be able to move with their man and have the quickness to go for the steal. I don't see playing big as a requirement or a danger at the position. Now, if you're equating playing big with playing high, that's a different story. Cornerbacks in today's game need to go up and make a play on the ball.
Derek from Eau Claire, WI
How many NFL teams do you think fall into this category: "If we stay healthy and catch a few breaks when we need them, we can win the Super Bowl."
That would describe all of the teams that have an elite quarterback. The Packers have an elite quarterback, and if they can keep him and their key players healthy, and catch a few breaks when they need them, it's not outlandish to think they can win a championship. That is not, however, my expectation for this season at this time. I see the Packers in a restorative year, and my hope is they'll be able to compete for a playoff spot.
Ben from Chicago, IL
Vic, is it safe to assume that in picking at 14 the Packers made out much better than they would have at their typical position in recent drafts?
If they were picking at their usual spot at the bottom of the order, I doubt they'd have that extra first-round pick in 2019. Picking high is a huge reward for losing. Anybody who thinks otherwise either doesn't get it or elects to kid themselves.
Zach from Chicago, IL
Which team do you currently believe has set themselves up best for a Super Bowl run this year, or a continued run of success?
The Rams would be the consensus answer to the first part of your question, but I'm more interested in the second part. The five teams (Browns, Jets, Bills, Cardinals and Ravens) that picked quarterbacks in the first round interest me. Which of those teams will have changed the course of their franchise's history as a result of their quarterback choice?
Eric from Lansing, MI
Coach McCarthy has no weaknesses, you say. That is high praise, except he has to be judged by special strengths if he is going to win. Apart from your often repeated "McCarthy is a leader of men," what is his greatest strength?
He has the best offensive mind of any coach I've covered. I love what he does by formation. He's a master at creating mismatches. Coach McCarthy uses schemes to scheme personnel, which leaves defenses to scheme schemes.
Nate from Pueblo, CO
One position, Vic. One position! How many teams wish they only had one position to upgrade?
No team is one player or one position away. That fact has been confirmed to me over and over during the years I've covered football. Dedicate all of your attention to one position, and a rash of injuries will decimate another position. You take what the draft gives you, and then you patch at what the draft couldn't give you. That's life in the seven-round, salary cap era.
Stephen from Chicago, IL
Josh Jackson seems like a steal. Did the Packers get two first-round talents? Or did he land where he should have been picked?
I like the Jackson pick as much or more as the Jaire Alexander pick. Give me Jackson and Marcus Davenport and my expectations for the Packers this season might not be as guarded as they are, but I sure like that extra first-round pick.
Craig from Subiaco, AR
Vic, in your last column you stated the Packers fixed their cornerback problem with this draft. Did you think the same thing when they drafted Randall and Rollins? If not, what's different in your mind?
Randall and Rollins were attempts to catch lightning in a bottle; they were projection picks in what was a weak NFL draft class. There's no such wildness with the Alexander and Jackson picks. They're groomed and ready to go.
Blake from Normal, IL
Vic, we talked about arrows on Monday. On that same theme, what direction is the arrow pointing for the Bears?
Mitchell Trubisky will determine the direction. I think it's pointing straight up. I think Roquan Smith can make the Bears defense a force. The rest of their draft? Mezza mezza.
Derrick from Rockaway, NJ
Who was the most successful "Mr. Irrelevant?"
My favorite is a short, stout guard named Tyrone McGriff. He had a nice career, but it's his "Mr. Irrelevant" story I like; it was fun to write. He was the last pick of the 1980 draft. The Steelers had defeated the Los Angeles Rams in the previous season's Super Bowl, which meant the Rams picked next to last in the '80 draft. Newport Beach, Calif., is the home of the "Mr. Irrelevant" event, and the Rams liked the PR benefits they could've enjoyed by drafting "Mr. Irrelevant." They passed on their pick, hoping the Steelers would pick and the Rams could then follow with the final pick of the draft, but the Steelers wanted the free trip to Calif. for their pick, so they passed on their pick. The Rams then picked and the Steelers followed by selecting McGriff. The kicker to the story is McGriff is the only "Mr. Irrelevant" who elected not to attend the event.
Dave from Savage, MN
The new Packers punter says his plant foot doesn't leave the ground when he punts, and when you look at the video, it doesn't. It looks very different. The only other guy I can remember like that is Reggie Roby. Am I missing anyone? Any good punting style stories?
I covered a punter named Craig Colquitt. He was a two-step punter whose style was stiff looking. It's possible his plant leg didn't leave the ground. The charm of the two-step technique is it's so difficult to block a two-stepper's punt, defenses don't even try.
Brad from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, what are your overall thoughts of the Jaguars draft? I feel this is a true BAP draft. There may be no starters this year, but quite a few jars on the shelf. It made it very clear this is first and foremost a young man's game.
I love the Taven Bryan and Ronnie Harrison picks. The Jaguars' strong defense got stronger.
Adam from Wausau, WI
You said the Packers needed to get faster at wide receiver. It appears they got bigger and faster at wide receiver in this draft. What's your take?
They used the shotgun approach at wide receiver. They drafted the same guy three times. It's similar to what they did at running back last season. The theory is one of the three will address the need at the position.
Nancy from Pluffer, MA
The term "country strong" is meant to describe someone who has a natural strength, not necessarily developed in the weight room. What player throughout your career would you say was the best example of "country strong?"
It's Carlton Haselrig. He's the most naturally powerful player I've ever covered.
Stephan from Vienna, Austria
After the draft, in which direction is the arrow pointing for your three teams, in your opinion?
They all addressed need with value picks, and that makes me believe they each have north-pointing arrows. The Packers fixed their cornerback problem, which I believe is the most dramatic cure of the three teams to which you are referring (Packers, Steelers, Jaguars). The Steelers focused on their safety problem and drafted two prospects with one theme in mind: Get tougher. Terrell Edmunds and Marcus Allen are big, physical safeties. The selection of quarterback Mason Rudolph in the third round gives the Steelers' draft home run potential. Rudolph is a run-pass-option quarterback who'll fit nicely in the Steelers' offense and the team's future. The Jaguars drafted a player I believe has J.J. Watt potential. Taven Bryan is a powerful, mauling type of defensive lineman who'll make a strong defense stronger. You can never have enough big guys and the Jaguars needed to get a young cornerstone player for their defensive front.
Dave from North Potomac, MD
All cover and no rush? Does Green Bay already have the rush they need?
You can't draft everybody. The Packers had a choice to make: Pick rush and draft Marcus Davenport, or pick cover and maneuver to select Jaire Alexander. Mike Pettine will try to create a pass rush the same way Dom Capers tried to do it: Create confusion and chaos by disguising coverages and blitzes. By fixing the cornerback problem, the Packers will allow themselves more coverage time to get home with the rush. Be that as it may, I share your concern for the failure to address the pass rush.
Jon from Bloomfield, NJ
I'm rooting for all of the new starting quarterbacks. The current generation of QBs is fairly old, so the NFL really needs the young franchise signal-callers to develop. Has there ever been a QB drought in the history of the NFL, other than times when players were at war?
Other than a few guys at the top, such as Matt Ryan and Matt Stafford, I think the pickings got a little slim at quarterback from 2006-2010. I consider it to have been a mini-drought that caused a lot of teams to waste picks and push some panic buttons at the position. It underscores how fortunate the Packers were to have selected Aaron Rodgers in 2005.
David from White River Junction, VT
Scrolling through Saturday's draft picks, I noticed quite a few kickers, punters and even the Packers long snapper. Is that a reflection of a lack of depth in this draft class or is something else going on?
When teams are picking kickers and long-snappers in an era of declining kicking-game importance, it almost has to be the result of the class having been weak at the playing positions. I couldn't help but notice how quickly this draft ran out of name-recognition players.
Pete from Minneapolis, MN
What if Vince Biegel turns out to be the reincarnation of Deacon Jones?
What if he doesn't?
Vincent from Seattle, WA
What did you think of the new GM's first draft?
It's very original and I like that. Brian Gutekunst was clearly picking from his board and not from popular opinion. It's a working man's draft class. What the class lacks is a sexy pick. It doesn't include a quarterback, for example, or a high-round wide receiver about whom fans can obsess and make wild predictions.
David from Hilliard (wherever that is)
Vic, what is the best thing about this draft for the Packers?
The problem at cornerback has been fixed.
Kevin from Silverdale, WA
Vic, the only draftnik who had us picking Alexander was Mike Mayock. He seems to have a talent for guessing our picks.
Mayock is good. I trust his evaluations. His weakness is his delivery lacks pizzazz. He's kind of a banker/draftnik. I've always gotten the feeling he's used his draftnik status to audition for a GM job. Ultimately, that might be good for him, but his ultra-serious delivery doesn't mesh well with the fun aspect of the draft process.
Dave from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, I grew up in West Virginia about 75 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. As a West Virginia Mountaineer fan, I listened to Jack Fleming call WVU games on the radio. I know he also called Steelers games, including “The Immaculate Reception.” Any thoughts on Jack?
Jack was a friend. He called me "Country Boy," which I considered flattering because Jack was a country guy through and through. In my opinion, Jack's claim to fame as the Steelers' play-by-play man is he's the guy whose voice you hear in replays of the "Immaculate Reception." Curt Gowdy blew the call. He didn't know where the ball was or what had happened. Jack's call was spot on, step for step: "Hang onto your hats, here come the Steelers out of the huddle. Terry Bradshaw at the controls. Twenty-two seconds remaining. And this crowd is standing. And Bradshaw, back and looking again. Bradshaw, running out of the pocket, looking for somebody to throw to, fires it downfield, and there's a collision! It's caught out of the air! The ball is pulled in by Franco Harris! Harris is going for a touchdown for Pittsburgh! Harris is going. Five seconds left on the clock. Franco Harris pulled in the football. I don't even know where he came from!" Jack's "15 minutes" of fame were the result of 17 seconds of clarity.
Joe from Bloomington, IN
Ward went fourth, Mayock had Jaire as his top cornerback, and the Packers get a first-round pick next year in the process. Too good to be true?
If you favor cover over rush, the Packers' draft is a windfall for you. Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson and last year's top pick, Kevin King, give the Packers a trio of young cornerbacks who should secure the position deep into the future. The extra first-round pick? Maybe it'll be used to draft Aaron Rodgers' successor.
Adam from Oshkosh, WI
Vic, with Gutekunst netting a first-round pick in the 2019 draft from the first-night trades, shouldn't that pick be included in the evaluation of Davenport-Alexander?
It absolutely should be included, but it likely won't because draft classes tend to stand on their own.
Seth from Kenosha, WI
Cornerbacks in the first and second round. Is it any different this time?
It's very different this time around because Alexander and Jackson aren't projections. They aren't a baseball player and a basketball player. Alexander and Jackson are football players and proven cornerbacks.
Joseph from Hollywood, FL
Quote from Jaire Alexander: “I’ve played against bigger receivers who are 6-5. It doesn’t really matter. My mentality is I’m going to beat the man in front of me. That’s just a part of being a student of the game. I don’t pay any attention to size or anything like that.” I like this kid!
Acta non verba.
Dan from Houston, TX
Well, Vic, how did Gute do?
I posed that question to Tony Pauline and this is his answer: "Solid to real good. A lot of potential on the third day, while filling needs on days one and two."
Jeremy from Lethbridge (wherever that is)
Vic, what do you make of the Steelers not drafting a linebacker for the first time since 2009?
It's a shocker, just as it shocks me the Packers traded away from a pass rusher for the second consecutive year. The Packers focused on their problem at cornerback, and the Steelers focused on their problem at safety. I think the message is you can't fix everything. Also, the Steelers might be telling us they plan to use their safeties as hybrid inside linebackers.
Andy from Thompsontown, PA
Vic, how did Jason Cabinda go undrafted? He was great this year. I thought he would fit in as an edge man for someone. I think you even mentioned him in your column.
I was asked about a run-stuffing inside linebacker. Cabinda isn't an edge rusher, he's a grunt, and that's why he went undrafted. The inside guys are two-down players and, therefore, undervalued. The Raiders acquired a lot of value in signing Cabinda as an undrafted free agent. You can find those inside guys among the undrafted.
Matt from Madison, WI
I've read your column since you joined packers.com through to the new "Ask Vic" and I've never had a question that someone else hadn't already asked. Well, I have one now. It seems to me the message sent by the Packers' first-round trades is Brian Gutekunst doesn't think the fix is a one-year proposition, and he'll need more talent than fans want to believe. Do you think he sees this as a two-year fix, therefore, the extra first-rounder next year will pay off more? It would give them a shot at a top quarterback, if Kizer doesn't work out.
I think that's a fair evaluation. I sense patience in Gutekunst's selections. I feel no sense of panic. He had a plan and he executed the plan. I think acquiring value was at the heart of his plan.
Derek from Eau Claire, WI
Can you speak to the evolution of trading draft picks?
Prior to the creation of the salary cap, trading was about talent evaluation. These days, it's also about money.
Mike from Somerset, WI
Vic, another year in which very few mock drafts were even close. It’s laughable the same people that missed on their mock drafts will now assign grades to the experts making the picks.
"Gutekunst will either trade up from 14 or stay put and trade back into the first round. Mark it down." I love the quirkiness of the draft. Why can't we just live with the suspense?
Bill from Staten Island, NY
I'm wondering if Tony Pauline had anything to say about Jaire Alexander either before or after the pick? Your thoughts on leaving Edmunds and James on the table?
Alexander's name wasn't mentioned in connection with the Packers by Tony or any draftnik I had read. Alexander is truly an original pick by the Packers. They targeted him as a possible pick, and I suspect that when other prospects they had targeted were selected in front of the Packers, the Packers traded to where Alexander fit. Without a doubt, he's a need pick, but Brian Gutekunst went to great lengths to pick Alexander where he fit and recoup the full value and more of the Packers' original pick position.
Seth from Kenosha, WI
What does the trade value book say about the net result of the Packers’ trades in the first round?
I don't need the numeric points table to tell me the Packers hit a value home run with their two trades in round one. Ultimately, they acquired a 2019 first-round pick for moving back just four spaces and exchanging some window-dressing picks.
Jerry from Kansas City, MO
The closer I follow the draft, the more I realize I have no idea what is going on. How would you assess the Packers' approach to round one?
It was all about need and value. The two had to meet. What that approach tells me is the Packers have the right guy running their personnel department.
Bret from Milani, HI
So I guess Green Bay chose cover over rush again. Maybe we’ll choose rush twice next year. What do you think of the trades and the pick?
The trades are sensational massaging of the draft process. I give Brian Gutekunst an A+ for his management of round one. The pick, Jaire Alexander, is considered by everyone whose opinion I've read to be a top talent. Most importantly for me, Alexander is a premium-position player. Here's what bothers me: For the second consecutive year, the Packers traded away from a pass rusher. I think it was a mistake trading away from T.J. Watt last year. What will be my opinion of trading away from Marcus Davenport this year?
Ben from Hilo, HI
Which first-round QB has the best chance for success based on the team that drafted him?
I think Josh Rosen is a perfect fit for the Cardinals.
Brandon from St. Paul, MN
What was the most surprising move of round one?
The Browns' selection of Baker Mayfield surprised me. I just don't see him as a No. 1 overall talent. I don't see the size and I don't see the arm. I see a system quarterback. That's my opinion and I will be very willing to say I'm wrong if Mayfield turns out to be the player the Browns think he'll be.
Matt from McNaughton, WI
I was hoping someone would fall to 14 for crazy reasons like QB hunger or need-based drafting. Maybe the playing field is as level as ever. Which, if any, teams got lucky and stole a player in your opinion?
Sam Darnold fell into the Jets' laps. The Bills got their quarterback and then grabbed a playmaking linebacker, Tremaine Edmunds, who I thought would've been a great fit for the Packers. The steal of the first round, in my opinion, is Lamar Jackson. I love his talent. If I'm looking for a new age quarterback, Jackson's my guy. Jackson is going to make for an intriguing comparison to Mayfield: First pick of the draft vs. the last pick of the first round playing against each other twice a year. I think the Ravens got the right guy.
Aaron from Wausau, WI
What do Gutekunst's trades and pick tell you? Seems like he knew how to get the player he wanted for the price he wanted to pay.
Gutekunst's maneuvering tells me he knows how to work the system. It tells me he's a veteran of the draft process.
Roger from Auburn, CA
Do the Packers have something against pass rushers? Last year they passed on Watt and this year they passed on Davenport. Your thoughts?
Davenport-Alexander will define this draft for the Packers, just as Watt-King will continue to define last year's draft. Defense is all about rushing the passer. Passing on the guys who do it is not how you get better at it. It concerns me.
Ray from Port Elgin, NB
Vic, did we miss a golden opportunity to get a blue chip player in Tremaine Edmunds? I get that we got some nice draft capital in the trade, but with how good New Orleans is, chances are that pick will be in the 28-32 range next year. When will we get the chance to pick this high again?
Maybe the Packers saw Edmunds as an inside guy only. Most of what I read about Edmunds projected him to be a playmaker, which means he'll be a featured player who'll stay on the field on third down regardless of where he plays. At the end of the day, it's all about the teams' opinions of the players, not the draftnik's opinions. Based on the Packers' moves, I have to believe they like Alexander better than Davenport and Edmunds.
Morgan from Kaukauna, WI
Vic, what do I feel?
You feel anxiety for what the Packers didn't draft. Remember this: You can't draft everybody. If the Packers had drafted Davenport, you'd be anxious about their need at cornerback.
Tim from Lancaster, PA
The Browns just did the most Brownsian thing imaginable. Mayfield can't hit the honey-hole. What are they doing?
He's not a honey-hole quarterback. He's a magic-wand quarterback. He'll move around, buy time, allow his receivers to come open and make plays with his legs and arm. He's a Russell Wilson type of quarterback, but does he possess Wilson's durability? Quarterbacks who make plays with their feet get hit, and they hit hard and sometimes late in the AFC North.
Randall from Watsonville, CA
"I have a photo on my wall of a game from a long time ago and I'm amazed at how few people are on the sidelines, compared to the crowded sidelines of today." For you to have framed this photo, it must be very interesting. I'd love to see it. I wonder about the story it would tell.
It's from the final game played at Three Rivers Stadium. In the final minutes of that game, my media friends scraped the number placard (37) off the seat I had long occupied and sent it to me, along with a picture from that game. I had the picture and the number placard framed. It sits directly in front of me at the desk in my study. It's as though I'm looking out the press box window onto the field.
Stephen from Jacksonville, FL
Did somebody harpoon the whale on its way back out to sea? The Wembley deal scares me, Vic.
It concerns me, too. I worry that if the Jaguars experience a downturn in fortunes, as they did shortly after I left Jacksonville, London would become an attractive option. I wish the ownership's focus was concentrated solely on Jacksonville. Be that as it may, I love the Taven Bryan pick. A strong defense just got stronger.
Ben from Chicago, IL
Vic, are there any scenarios in which a team intentionally doesn't turn in a pick in order to pick at a later slot? For instance, a team with pick 32 could save some cap money and pay less guaranteed money by picking first in round two.
In 2003, the Vikings had the seventh pick of the draft but twice allowed the clock to expire before they selected defensive tackle Kevin Williams with the ninth pick. Why did they do that? Because they knew the Jaguars at eight were going to select Byron Leftwich and the Panthers at nine were going to select Jordan Gross, so the Vikings effectively moved back two spaces to select Williams, the player they had targeted.
Steve from Montclair, NJ
Now that teams can trade compensatory picks, do you expect more trades by teams trying to find the best values?
Trades have been increasing in number for several years. Why? Because teams are attempting to fit themselves to the player they wish to pick. It's a means for addressing need without relinquishing value. Trading is proof teams are drafting according to the best available player philosophy or, at the least, value is king. When you reach, you pay more for a player than his worth should dictate, plus, you don't get the full value of your original selection.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, what was the atmosphere like around Lambeau on draft day? Were the experiences pretty similar in Jacksonville and Pittsburgh?
My draft days in Pittsburgh were spent prior to the keep-the-media-out days. While I was in Pittsburgh, the media largely had access to coaches and personnel people between picks when everybody was hanging out in the lunch room. I could get some tips from scouts back then because there was nothing I could do with the information since it was prior to the invention of the Internet. The Internet changed everything. It introduced ultra-stealth to the draft. The media atmosphere at Lambeau Field is largely as it was in Jacksonville during my time there. The media is housed in a large auditorium, where they watch the draft on TV monitors and supplement their coverage with comments from coaches and personnel people who are brought to the media room to answer questions following team picks. I liked it better in my old days in Pittsburgh, but everything about my business has changed and it's never going to be again as it once was.
Dave from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, glad to see you’re coming to Jacksonville for the Steelers vs. Jaguars Sunday night matchup. I’m glad Coughlin, Marrone and company have embraced tough defense, create-turnovers and run-the-ball football. What type of football team are the Steelers trying to be?
The Steelers are trying to be what they've always been, but they lack the personnel to be that team. I think we saw Steelers football last season when they played in Cincinnati, but it wasn't something they could sustain after they lost Ryan Shazier. Identity is not something you can will to happen. You have to have the talent to be what you want to be. The Steelers were soft on defense last season. They need to be faster and tougher on defense.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Vic, you're the GM. With the exception of the QB position in this year's draft, what would be your top 3-5 players of interest for Green Bay to select in round one?
The Packers need a pass rusher. If they can't get a pass rusher, then get a cornerback. If they can't get a cornerback, then get a tackle. Pick No. 14, especially considering the number of quarterbacks that will be overdrafted ahead of the Packers' pick, is too high not to spend it on a premium-position player.
Sean-Luc from Oceanside, CA
What do you tell a fellow Packers fan who refuses to accept this is a rebuilding year?
I don't think it's a rebuilding year. I think rebuilding is too strong of a word to accurately represent where the Packers are. I would tell a Packers fan to have hope, but be cautious and realistic with your expectations.
Mark from Green Bay, WI
Why does Goodell insist on being in charge of all discipline? I would have a discipline committee: two people nominated by the NFLPA, two nominated by the owners, and an NFL referee. I would have an appeals board. I do not understand why in this country management must always see the union as their enemy.
Here's where I stand on players doing bad things: If they're not in jail, put on the pads. I prefer to leave justice to the people who are trained and paid to uphold it. In cases involving crimes against the game, I support the commissioner having full power to discipline violators as he deems fit.
Eric from San Francisco, CA
Which team do you think could make the same leap the Jaguars did last year, going from a losing record to a playoff run? My pick would be the 49ers, now that they have "The Man."
The 49ers are poised to become the surprise team of the year, though it will surprise few.
Matthew from Stockholm, Sweden
Vic, what are your thoughts on the Packers defensive line? With stars in Daniels and Wilkerson, a budding star in Clark, and Lowry and Adams providing quality depth, I think it is the strength of the defense. Can the front wreak havoc on a consistent basis? I saw it in flashes against the Seahawks and Bucs.
The first thing I need to know before I can answer your question is how will Mike Pettine use his defensive linemen. Will they be used as hold-the-point two-gappers, as they were used under Dom Capers' direction, or as penetrate-and-disrupt gap-controllers? Two-gappers don't wreak havoc, they eat blocks so the linebackers can wreak havoc. I like the Packers' talent up front. I think there's a significant decline in talent from the line to the linebackers.
Adam from Wausau, WI
The new GM needs to make a statement with his first draft. Prediction: Gutekunst will either trade up from 14 or stay put and trade back into the first round. Mark it down.
OK, it might happen, but why does Brian Gutekunst need to make a dramatic statement in his first draft? I think he needs to draft good football players. I think that's the only statement he needs to make.
Maggie from Kenosha, WI
Vic, you're on the clock. Make your first-round picks for the Packers, Steelers and Jaguars.
I asked Tony Pauline your question and this is what he said: Packers--Minkah Fitzpatrick or trade up for Denzel Ward. Steelers--Rashaan Evans or Lorenzo Carter. Jaguars--Will Hernandez or Dallas Goedert.
Karl from Albuquerque, NM
Vic, which saying do you agree with more, and which is more important, a good pass rush will make a secondary look good, or a good secondary will make a pass rush look good? Or is it a egg or chicken argument?
I think a good pass rush will do more for a defense than a good secondary.
Adam from Chicago, IL
What do you make of Jason Spriggs?
He needs to get stronger at the point of attack.
Steven from Montclair, NJ
Is the term "War Room" insensitive to use during this weekend? Or are we being overly sensitive?
I don't see anything wrong with it. Ted Thompson was opposed to it and I thought he was being overly sensitive. Hey, it's the draft. It's a crapshoot. Let's have some fun, OK?
Eric from Wausau, WI
Vic, if you could go back to the mid-1970s and see today's game from your perspective as a beat reporter for the Steelers, in what ways would today's game be unrecognizable?
The size of the helmets and shoulder pads would be laughable. Also, the first time a safety was flagged for a head shot on a defenseless receiver, my mouth would fall open. "What was wrong with that?" I'd say. One more thing: I have a photo on my wall of a game from a long time ago and I'm amazed at how few people are on the sidelines, compared to the crowded sidelines of today.
Roger from Houston, TX
What intrigues you most about this draft?
It's the quarterbacks. What teams will pick them and how might the quarterbacks push better players down the board?
Mitch from Milwaukee, WI
If Aaron Rodgers retired today, who would you consider to be a better quarterback, Brett Favre or Rodgers?
I think the answer to your question is a matter of personal preference, otherwise, the two men have enjoyed parallel levels of success. Do you prefer drama or consistency? I'll take the consistency. Rodgers would be my choice.
Jeff from Alexandria, VA
Is football becoming like basketball, where fans follow individuals rather than teams?
That happened a long time ago, when Fantasy Football became popular.
Roger from Chesterton, IN
My cousin is a construction worker in Chicago and he was recently doing renovations at Soldier Field. They showed up in their hi-visibility vests and Virginia McCaskey told everyone to take off the Green Bay Packers yellow vests, get orange vests, or find new work. Might be snow on the roof, but there's fire in the furnace. Thanks for your writing. You've given me perspective and great understanding that goes beyond football.
I think the Bears might be ready to hold up their end of the rivalry, and that would help re-launch it. As it stands right now, it's the most overrated rivalry in the NFL.
Matt from Christchurch, NZ
Is rugby the future of football?
I attended a dinner this past week at which Auburn Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele was the guest speaker. Steele has also coached at Alabama, Tennessee, Clemson, LSU, Florida State, Baylor and the Carolina Panthers. He's one of the most respected names in the coaching profession and he's one of my Edisto Island neighbors. I asked Kevin what he thought the concussion thing will do to college football. He said he wasn't sure what the specific impact would be, but the game will be unrecognizable in 30 years. I would agree.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, a preseason Internet prediction gives the Packers a 13-3 record, a first-round bye, a victory over the Vikings and an NFC Championship loss to the Panthers. How likely is this scenario?
It's possible but that would not be my expectation.
Dick from Watertown, SD
How about next Thursday's column is delayed until after the first round?
I'm going to do a column on Thursday and on Friday.
Stephen from Jacksonville, FL
The Jaguars finally got some teal pants. Does this news make you happy? Is it time to abandon the First Communion look?
I love the all-white and all-teal uniforms and wish those were the Jaguars' only two options. I don't like the black-pants looks and, in my opinion, five options are too many. In my opinion, uniforms are all about identity and the Jaguars need to embrace one. The really good news is the ugliest uniforms in the history of football are gone. The half-painted, primer-paint helmet has been replaced by the clean, shiny model of past successes, and the Jaguars will no longer look like Joe's Bar and Grill.
Jerry from Kansas City, MO
As a fan of Dorsey and Wolf, I am interested to see if their leadership can turn the Browns into a winning team. What do the Browns need to do in the coming season to prove they've turned the ship around?
They need to draft a quarterback and establish him as the future of the franchise. If they can achieve that goal in 2018, they'll be on their way to winning.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
What do you think of the Packers' schedule?
The first two games are a daunting challenge. They smacked me right in the face. I don't think the Packers can win the NFC North without winning both of those games.
Sam from Saratoga Springs, NY
I've seen a lot of people express the opinion (and even expectation) Pettine is going to whip the Packers defense into shape and we'll see a different animal on that side of the ball. We have a transcendent QB, we have what seems to be a solid running game, we have a great offensive line, we have play-making pass catchers. In your opinion, what are we missing? What is going to be the key to getting back to the Super Bowl this year, and do we have it now or not?
I see a great quarterback. I don't see the rest of that stuff. I see questions. I believe you're thinking with your heart.
Jerry from Savannah, GA
Vic, some would argue it’s not in the Packers’ best interest to have the face of their franchise disgruntled. Isn’t that a valid point?
I don't think it's a big deal. The chatter ends when the playing begins. At that point, the scoreboard talks the loudest. That's why I say the baloney ends, except I don't say baloney.
Mike from Fort Wayne, IN
Considering all the safety concerns with football, do you think baseball will ever become "America's Game" again?
If football changes too much, it'll open the door for other sports to take market share. I think the NFL needs to be very careful about its pursuit of safety. I think the league is at the doorstep of going too far with the rules changes. As I've written, football's popularity wasn't built on it being safe.
Bianca from Brazil
Vic, say you replace Roger Goodell as the next NFL commissioner. What would be your first move?
I would try to establish a relationship with the players that would allow me to appeal to them to help protect the game. I don't think the rules changes and all the fines are achieving their intent. I think it has to come from within, so to speak.
Eric from Baker, FL
Over the years of reading your column, I've found you hold Coach McCarthy in high regards. My question is, what do you think some of his weaknesses or faults are?
I don't think he has any weaknesses as a coach. I think he needs more talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball. That's been his weakness, not enough talent on the defensive side of the ball.
Joe from Los Angeles, CA
Vic, will you ever attend a regular season game again?
I think I'm going to attend the Steelers at Jaguars game on Nov. 18.
Brad from La Crosse, WI
Have you ever been out in your kayak and suddenly thought, "Maybe I shouldn't be out here!"
Yeah, it was a couple of years ago, two days before Christmas. I was paddling on Scott Creek and all of a sudden a dolphin popped up out of the water near my kayak. Its wake made my kayak wobble. I turned around and paddled home.
Amis from Norwich, UK
Josh Rosen might be the most talented quarterback in this coming draft, but his personality is putting teams off because he has opinions. Is it fair (or wise) for teams to avoid him for this reason?
One of my scout friends was working in Kansas City in 1983, which was the year of the great quarterback draft. The coach, John Mackovic, told my scout friend to go to Penn State and work out Todd Blackledge and then go to Pitt and work out Dan Marino. Mackovic was committed to making one of the two quarterbacks the Chiefs' first-round pick. Well, my scout friend worked out the two quarterbacks and reported back to Mackovic Marino was clearly the better prospect. Mackovic agreed with my scout friend but said he was going to pick Blackledge because Marino's personality wouldn't be a good fit. How'd that decision turn out for the Chiefs? Hey, draft talent. Personalities change with maturity.