"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Sean from North Fond du Lac, WI
Vic, what should we make of the Bleacher Report article regarding McCarthy and Rodgers? Did you notice any of this during your time?
My last season covering the Packers was 2015. At that time, there was no talk of the kind of intense dysfunction that's being reported now. I detected three instances of friction, which I've cited in this column: 1) the sideline flap in Cincinnati in 2013; 2) Aaron Rodgers' criticism of the late-game play-calling in the 2014 NFC title game in Seattle; 3) a playful but somewhat snippy comment by Rodgers in 2015 that he didn't understand a play call by Mike McCarthy because "he speaks with that Pittsburgh accent." It was obvious Rodgers had an edge for his coach, but Rodgers is an edge kind of guy and that's what makes him the intense competitor he is. Coach and quarterback not being best friends isn't a news flash: Noll-Bradshaw, Shula-Unitas, Landry-Staubach, Reeves-Elway; Otto Graham told me he had to be held back from going after Paul Brown on the sideline, and even Lombardi and Starr had a confrontational moment. The Sports Illustrated story late last season detailed a McCarthy-Rodgers relationship that had deteriorated to the point of being damaging to the performance of the team. After reading that story, Mark Murphy's decision to fire McCarthy was understandable. He had to get rid of either McCarthy or Rodgers; Murphy picked the one who was replaceable. The Bleacher Report story goes into even deeper detail, but it largely tells us what we already knew: Rodgers was warring with his coach. I think the assertion the root of Rodgers' bitterness being the draft-day snub is the most important piece of information in the story. If that's true, the relationship was poisoned from the beginning and McCarthy never stood a chance of earning Rodgers' respect. Otherwise, the Bleacher Report story merely confirmed what Sports Illustrated first reported: There was trouble in paradise.
Brian from Waukesha, WI
Tom Matte said Unitas told Don Shula, “You just take care of the defense and I’ll take care of the offense.” Unitas also told his young head coach to never send plays into the huddle. Unitas and Shula made it work despite their well-documented animosity toward one another. It seems Rodgers and McCarthy did, too, achieving more championships than Unitas and Shula did. And now here comes the future.
Unitas went so far as to call a time out when Shula sent a play into the huddle. The story is Unitas went to the sideline and asked Shula if he wanted to play quarterback, and then said don't ever send a play into my huddle again.
Chad from Troy, MI
Vic, settle an office debate: Does Otto Graham deserve to be rated as a top five all-time QB?
I have him at No. 4 behind Brady, Unitas and Montana.
Jon from Indiana
Why would Tyler Dunne publish a piece that can be so damaging to careers? No great player or coach is without ego. It's their greatest strength and most glaring target when perfection fails. But to seek out ex-players and misleading rumors to vilify the last two years' results is tabloid journalism at best. I have no respect for tabloid journalism.
The fans want it and that's why it's written. Bleacher Report published an Antonio Brown story a day for nearly three months, even though 99 percent of those stories put a new top on old information. Why did they do it? Because the stories got clicks. Readers love controversy and Dunne's story was a unique-visits bonanza. It's OK for you not to like journalism that exploits controversy, but it's unrealistic in the digital-media era to hold non-mainstream media to a higher standard than its readers.
Mark from Wauwatosa, WI
The recent lengthy article from Tyler Dunne in Bleacher Report portrays an animosity between Rodgers and McCarthy that apparently has existed for many years. How does a dysfunctional relationship that, at a minimum, disrupts team unity and reportedly forces players to "pick sides" be allowed to continue for so long? Where is the GM and other management in addressing this?
After what NFC title game did you expect McCarthy to be fired? After a 15-1 season in 2011? Mark, the Rodgers-McCarthy "marriage" put a lot of happy pictures in the Packers' family photo album. The issue was addressed after just two losing seasons, the first of which was the result of the injury that caused Rodgers to miss most of the 2017 season. I think Mark Murphy moved with courageous expedience. Apparently, he knew things we didn't and decided he would no longer allow it to continue.
Scott from Lincoln City, OR
Vic, I've never had it before but somehow I caught OL fever. My son likes Kansas State's Dalton Risner. Who are Tony's top three?
Tony's top three offensive linemen are Andre Dillard of Washington State, Juwaan Taylor of Florida and Jonah Williams of Alabama. "I think it's Jonah Williams at 12. Can play RT/G," Tony said.
Maggie from Kenosha, WI
How do you think the Packers, Steelers and Jaguars are poised in their respective divisions this year?
The Packers and Jaguars were ultra-aggressive in free agency. Anything less than making it into the postseason would be a disappointment. The Steelers did some patching that might make them competitive, but I don't see them making it into the postseason. Their arrow is pointing down.
Dan from Waupun, WI
Vic, I wish the Packers locker room (baloney) would've never surfaced. Modern media sucks.
Packers fans want happiness. They want to believe all is well in the land of Lambeau make believe. That's why I describe Packers fans as being winsome. The reality is the Packers are no different than any other team. Their players would've been other teams' players if other teams had drafted them. Nobody magically changes when they walk into Lambeau Field. Was Jim Taylor happy when he asked Lombardi to trade him? Was Brett Favre happy when he got into a flap with Ted Thompson that resulted in Favre being traded? Modern media didn't create the friction between Rodgers and McCarthy. Frankly, we were slow in reporting on it. The Cincinnati sideline outburst was grossly under-reported, and the Seattle play-calling disagreement should've been an offseason-long story. You want the illusion. Good reporters seek the truth.
Dave from Chippewa Falls, WI
There have been stories about Coach LaFleur's opening comments to his team before the first practices. Here's hoping he doesn't tell them how special it is to be in Green Bay. I'm sick of that drivel. It's special to be playing in the NFL, yes. But if they want it to be special to play in Green Bay, do something special. Just being there isn't anything. What would you be saying to your team?
Say? Talk is cheap. The first full-pads practice would begin with a live-to-the-ground Oklahoma drill. That would make Green Bay a special place to play, right? Complacency ends and accountability begins when the pads pop. Please, somebody complain.
Brett from Lakewood, CO
Is Tyler Dunne's story good journalism? Is it necessary journalism? Where does a piece that tears down reputations fit in with what is expected or required of a journalist?
The truth is the pure defense. I'd just like to see someone not named Anonymous tell us the truth.
Terry from Jaspar, IN
Vic, how will the Bleacher Report article and all of the associated talking-head speculation impact Mike McCarthy’s pursuit of another NFL head coaching position?
I don't think it'll bother the Vikings.