"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Leo from Hamburg, Germany
Could you share some of your thoughts on the ESPN interview with Mike McCarthy?
When Coach McCarthy was fired, I wondered why Mark Murphy didn't wait until Monday morning to pull the plug. What was the rush, I thought? Well, maybe he was afraid if he slept on it he wouldn't do it. Clearly, Murphy wanted to make a change. What does it matter how or when it's done? You're firing a guy! There's no nice way to do it. Hey, the checks keep coming, right? If Coach McCarthy had asked me to advise him following his dismissal -- I'm kidding, of course -- I would've told him to drop out of sight. No ad in the newspaper, no return to Lambeau Field and farewell to the team. Avoid drama, I would've told him. He hates drama, right? Coach Noll said cast no shadows. I've always liked that approach. The interview with ESPN resurrects the whole thing, and I'm not sure that's good for Coach McCarthy or for the Packers. My reaction to the story? The complacency and accountability issue is what chafes me. I'll make sure that at least in this column last year's players are held accountable for this year's results.
Richard from St. Augustine, FL
Vic, would you enlighten your readers about how you came to be in the right place at the right time regarding your career? In Pittsburgh, was it the excitement of the Steelers organization? Jacksonville, the newness of a small market team? Packers, a great tradition and great ending to your career? Low Country peaceful bliss to spend your days reminiscing?
I got lucky every step of the way. At Kent State, a student from my hometown snapped a picture that won a Pulitzer Prize and made a degree from the Kent State School of Journalism look real, real good on a resume. The first NFL team I covered won four Super Bowls in six years and provided me with amazing subject matter. It also happened at a time when the NFL opened its doors to reporters. They were the best interviews and during the best access of my career. The Jaguars launched a new career for me: website reporting. I remember Wayne Weaver asking me if I'd do his website, as a sidelight. A few years later, it was my full-time job. The Packers closed my career by distinguishing it with the pedigree of a special place and a special tradition. Yeah, I spend my days in the peaceful bliss of the Low Country, remembering interviews with Joe Greene, a middle-of-the-night pep rally in Jacksonville, and those final four minutes in Seattle. Memories make us rich, even the ones that hurt.
Enrique from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, why did the Jags draft Matt Jones in the first round as a wide receiver? I still don't get it.
They fell in love with him. They saw a tall, athletic player making one-handed catches at the Senior Bowl and they decided he was the star they needed to bring it all together. They caught wide receiver fever. They drafted Reggie Williams in 2004 and Jones in '05. They kept throwing receivers at Byron Leftwich with the hope of making Leftwich the franchise quarterback they envisioned when they drafted him with the seventh pick of the '03 draft. In Jones' case, I think there was more to the pick than Jones' ability to play football. The Jaguars were struggling to sell tickets and Jones would've been a popular player had he become a star. It was an attempt to catch lightning in a bottle. I never saw the lightning.
Alan from Nixon, Ontario
I saw a news piece that said referee John Parry packed it in. Maybe it's just me but it seems like lately a lot of referees have retired or gone to TV stations. Do you think there's a reason for all of these retiring or ship-jumping refs? Or is this just really a game of replacement?
TV offers a more rewarding career. It's also a good deal for the NFL. They train these guys and graduate them to TV, where they can advance the message the NFL wants to send to fans about rules and interpretations. Officials are a dime a dozen, but men with the panache to stylize their profession are special. Gene Steratore is the best. He's the star of stars. Parry has a reputation for being a good talker. We'll see.
Gregory from Milwaukee, WI
Who have been your all-time favorite athletes outside of the NFL?
Roberto Clemente was my boyhood hero. Sports were different back then. They weren't nearly as national in scope as they are today. Clemente was the No. 1 player in Pittsburgh sports during my youth, and I was in love with his flair for playing the game. I loved the way he ran out from under his hat as he rounded second and raced for third. I thrilled at seeing him chase down a ball in the right field corner, and then wheel and throw, stopping the runner halfway between second and third. I loved the cocked-head batting stance and the basket catch and underarm toss to the infield. I was home from college when I awakened to the New Year's Day headline he had died in a plane crash. I think I stopped being young that day. His last hit was his 3,000th. Some people just have a flair for the dramatic.
Jason from Austin, TX
Is it allowed for a team to trade a player or draft pick for cap money?
No, cap space can't be traded. I think that's why the rules require a player's bonus amortization to remain with the team that trades him.
Greg from Cuenca, Ecuador
Do you have a feel for how many players are first-round talent this year?
I asked Tony Pauline your question and he said he had first-round grades on 25 players.
Ron from Boise, ID
Two website stories caught my eye. One was the plans Dallas has for Cobb and the other was McVay being excited to put Matthews to work. I find these stories a form of a slap in the face. Why do some media publications feel the need to rub salt in the wounds of its base?
Free agency is about re-purposing players and giving their careers newness. It's news.
Steve from Hudson, WI
I agree with you when you point out trading a first-round draft pick for a player is a bad idea. I totally hated trading a first-rounder for a backup QB years ago, but Favre did OK. Can you share a time when you went horribly wrong on a draft or trade prediction? For the record, I also thought over-paying an old DE was stupid, but Reggie was worth it. That's when I learned I would be a terrible GM.
How's that John Hadl trade working for you? And how about that Joe Johnson signing? I stand by what I wrote: "Teams usually don't trade players who are worth first-round picks."
Mark from Wheaton, IL
Vic, I really appreciated your stance last week on Robert Kraft. Would you have been able to make that statement while working for one of your former employers?
I discussed this type of issue in the column that launched this new "Ask Vic." While writing for the Packers, I had to stay away from bulletin board material, for the obvious reason. Commenting on Kraft as I did would've created bulletin board material, and it would've made Mark Murphy's efforts within NFL administration more difficult. Hey, no writer has complete freedom. A newspaper reporter who decides to take on the publication's No. 1 advertiser isn't likely to have his story published. I believe I've been consistent with my fundamental beliefs. I'm a best-available-player guy who has a cynical view of free agency. I believe in players, not plays, and in commitment and patience. All of that was true when I worked for packers.com and it's still true today.
Steven from Doctors Inlet, FL
I don't believe many football fans comprehend "the speed and fury with which the game is played," and the only way to appreciate the violence is to be down on the sidelines. One Sunday, I was on the field standing next to John Henderson and Marcus Stroud while they were rocking the cage before their introduction. These men were frightening. When the game kicked off, the thunder of the attack to the ball carrier and the collisions that ensued were brutal. How often do things not work out for good prospects because they don't have the courage for this type of game?
It happens often. It's not a game for the well-adjusted. If you don't believe me, Google "John Henderson face slap." That's not normal.
Dustin from Pittsville, WI
I absolutely love the draft and have enjoyed your blog's take on everything football. My question is what's your definition of a "big guy?"
I reserve that reference for offensive and defensive linemen, which would include an edge pass rusher.
Nick from Owego, NY
Swann or Stallworth?
Stallworth was more durable and had the longer career. In addition to being a big-play wide receiver, Swann had outstanding punt-return ability. I'm going to say Swann because he was a purely selfless player. If he caught one pass for four yards and the Steelers won, he was satisfied.
Chad from Cooya Beach, Australia
Vic, I’m 32 and my wife is about to have our fourth child. I fear for my children’s future in such uncertain times. Rapid climate change, economic instability, social disconnect, etc. Did you have similar worries when you had children, or do you believe we are on the edge of massive change for humanity?
I'll defer to my mother's generation of mothers, who lived in fear of having a child stricken with polio. It was an insidious disease that struck without warning or mercy. I can still see the kids with the sticks. It's still heartbreaking. And then, suddenly, it was gone; it was completely gone. I think Jonas Salk is the greatest hero of my generation. As you prepare to welcome your fourth child, read about Salk.
Steven from Racine, WI
I think the Packers are three good players away from being legit contenders. What do you think?
Two might do it. They need a star on offense to pair with Rodgers, and I think they need a road-grader on that offensive line.
David from San Francisco, CA
Tell me what I deserve to hear about the AAF, Vic.
It had no chance. It was silliness. Why did anyone think it might actually work? I tried to limit my comments on it because the whole thing was a waste of time. Rich people can be really stupid.